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5 Tips to Help You Nail HSC English

A certain type of student is called the “Band 4 Warrior” in HSC English. They study the text repeatedly, listen attentively in class and revise quotes so thoroughly they can say them in their sleep. But they can’t break past 16/20. If this sounds like you, Atomic Plus Tuition has five tips to rocket your HSC English grades into the stratosphere.

Outside Readings

One of the critical objectives of Stage 6 English is to “investigate and explain how composers draw on cultural, textual and linguistic resources to represent particular perspectives in texts.” It’s essential to research outside texts the composer drew upon or wrote themselves. For example, many HSC students study George Orwell’s 1984 and write about his critique of Nazi Germany. But with some key quotes from Orwell’s memoir on Spain, Homage to Catalonia, you can show a unique perspective on the composer, which your teachers will reward you for.

Here are some wider readings we recommend for commonly prescribed Stage 6 texts:

1984, George Orwell – Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell

The Complete Poems, John Keats – Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction, Michael


Ariel, Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Forget about synonyms, equivalents, metonyms, analogues…

Illuminating? Demonstrating? Revealing? Students often spend too much time worrying about rewording their analysis than the actual analysis itself. You could spend this wasted time exploring concepts and creating original sentences. Skip the dictionary if you’re looking to reach those Band 5 and 6 grades. Teachers want new ideas, not new words.

Revisit Past Work Often

You wrote a stellar essay in November, but by the time Trials come about, you’ve forgotten every single quote! This is a common problem but easily fixed with a calendar. After an essay is finished, spend an hour studying the text once or twice a month. It will ensure your knowledge stays fresh for the final exam.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen

Studies have shown that one of the best methods to retain long-term memories is teaching and discussing ideas with somebody else. Talking about the text with your classmates will lock in knowledge and make you more flexible come exam time.

Think Now

This tip is especially for Module B. A key objective of this module is for students to ”express their considered perspective of a text’s value and meaning,” Teachers want to hear your perspective, not the authors. Think hard about how the text

reflects your world, no matter how ancient the book or play seems. Don’t be afraid to include current events and politics in your essay to show how a text is valuable to modern audiences.

Those are our five tips to help you nail HSC English. If you’re interested in getting some personalised, face-to-face help to improve your HSC marks, call Atomic Plus Tuition at 0401 455 665 or email us at

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