How To Use The English HSC Rubric To Ace Your Exam!

This blog was written by Donia, one of Beyond's English HSC tutors.

English exams have to be one of, if not the most daunting and stressful exams to exist. The unpredictability of the essay and creative writing questions can be extremely overwhelming, especially when having to complete a mountain of other subjects that all have its challenges. At least for them, there is a right and wrong answer, whereas with English anything is possible.  One of the best ways to improve your marks is by udnerstanding the English HSC rubric.

On the bright side, the unseen text section can be a useful tool to help boost your mark. Most people either underestimate or overestimate the unseen text component, which in both cases are as bad as one another.

By underestimating it, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to increase your overall mark. By overestimating, you focus too much on a component that is not worth as much.

Well how do you ace the unseen component in the exam using the English HSC rubric?

1. Get to know your English rubric!

Before you begin unseen questions, it is crucial to be familiar with the common module rubric. Have it with you at all times when drafting and creating practice responses to help you learn and memorise it. Focusing on the terminology that appears on the rubric will help you understand what they mean. It will also guide your responses to ensure you are ticking all the relevant boxes the HSC markers are after. Visit the NESA website or ask your teachers for the rubric if you don’t have one already!

students studying for HSC English
At Beyond Tutoring, our HSC English classes focus on helping students break down the rubric and apply it within their short answer and essay responses!

2. Start Planning!

Just like any great event or important day, effective planning is needed to achieve your goal (have a read of our blog on planning the 6 weeks prior to your HSC). Prior to completing questions, have a rough plan as to which terms in the rubric are exemplified throughout the unseen text. You can create this plan mentally, or write them down either in a book, or on the side of your mock exam paper. Writing them down exercises your brain and allows you to remember finer details better. Once you have become comfortable with the idea, you can switch to mental planning.

Focus on human emotions in the unseen text that the composer describes, and link it back to the theme in the question. Any anomalies or paradoxes the persona may be portraying, any techniques that allow the composer to encourage us to view the world differently are all concepts to consider. Familiarising yourself with these skills and tactics, will prove beneficial in the HSC exams as it allows you to structure your responses in a coherent manner.

teacher tutoring students for HSC English exams
Make sure you constantly seek feedback from your English teachers and tutors, so your marks can improve even more!

3. Highlight key themes in the question and make essential links to the English HSC rubric

Once you begin writing, the first thing you should do is highlight what the question is asking for! This will ensure you focus on analysing the techniques that help the composer explore the experience. While simultaneously including elements of the rubric. By doing this, you save yourself from falling into a pointless rant that wont score you any marks. Instead, you now have more time to shape your answers to perfectly match the question. Refrain from wasting your time talking about aspects in the text that are not present in the rubric.

Similarly, making essential links is perhaps the most crucial step that can boost your grade from a band 5 to a 6! Throughout your analysis, ensure that every example includes a link to the composer’s purpose in exemplifying key aspects/terminology in the rubric. Remember, your rubric should be your guide to help you answer the questions and show the composer’s authorial intention.

4. Conclude Your Response with the Rubric

The purpose of the rubric is not simply to help guide students’ responses, it is what the markers refer to when grading papers. Thus, it is crucial that students try their best to explicitly link their responses directly to the rubric. Doing so makes it clear to the marker that you have not neglected the rubric, rather you have a thorough understanding of how the text explores it. It also makes your paper clear, easy to read and follow through, leaving you with a higher grade. Including a sum up sentence of how the text portrays any aspect of the English HSC rubric could also really help your response if you were struggling to create links in your analysis. 

Need extra help for HSC English?

For many students, the stress of HSC can be overwhelming, particularly without the right approach to studying. With a growing number of students in high school classrooms, it becomes difficult for students to get the attention that they need.

At Beyond Tutoring, we employ young, dynamic high-achievers who will help you boost your marks and spark passion for all of your subjects!

Our HSC classes focus on dissecting key concepts, so students have a deep understanding, rather than simply memorising notes

Contact us today so we can help you transform your life!

Stay In Touch!

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates and blog highlights, and to stay informed of upcoming events and promotions.