2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1 Sample Answers

In this article, the Matrix English team shares their 2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1 sample answers. Use these responses as a guide to see what would score highly for the 2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1.

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Matrix English Team
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The Matrix 2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1 Sample Answers for the English Standard Common Module are here!


2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1 Sample Answers

It’s that time of year! Have you seen the 2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1 yet?

In this article, we share our sample answers for Section 1 of the 2021 HSC English Standard Exam Paper 1 to show you the sort of response that would score highly. You can find the paper here on the NESA website.

Read on to see sample responses for all of the 2021 unseen section questions.

Question 1 (4 marks)

Text 1 – Feature article extract

Explain the ways in which the writer represents Karlie Noon’s unique experience.

Despite writing in the third person, this text provides consistent insight into Karlie Noon’s perspective and unique experience. The syntax of the opening sentence places her name first, emphasising her perspective on the sky, rather than the sky itself. Her particular insights are foregrounded in phrases like “she sees more” and “she has gleaned this knowledge”, implying that her specialist knowledge is particular to her and is the result of her unique experience. Direct quotation enables the writer to highlight Noon’s voice and her connection to “my ancestors”, the importance of which is underscored by the use of the possessive pronoun “my”. The text refers to Noon’s “innate love of maths”, a lexical choice that indicates her personal, unique experience of discovering this love within herself. The verb to “rekindle” this love implies that it was always present and smouldering within her, representing her as uniquely talented. Imagery of perception recurs in Noon’s statement that “I was able to disconnect learning from school and see them as separate things”, reflecting her unique appreciation of her educational history. The article calls attention to her distinctive identity as someone with access to both “scientific knowledge” and “Indigenous culture and traditions”, represented on her person by the “tattoos” which are alluded to in the final paragraph. Each of these details suggests that she is uniquely positioned within her field and able to draw on a highly individual set of experiences in her work.

Question 2 (6 marks)

Text 2 – Prose fiction extract

Analyse how the writer represents a childhood memory.

The vividness of the memory described is evoked by both the concentration of sensory imagery (“cool sand”, “the spectacle of it”, “The big whooshing of the water”) and the narrator’s precise recollection of colourful details like the fact that the crab was “teeny” and the memory of “colourful bathers.”

The writer begins by describing the landscape, as if seen through the narrator’s “Fresh eyes.” The immediacy of the opening establishes an intense, excited tone. An element of suspense is introduced in the phrase “one too many a beach memory”, which suggests the narrator would prefer not to remember this event. This impression is enhanced by the tactile image of “sticky tension” rising. The narrator recalls not only the details of this episode but also their sensory and emotional impact, commenting on “something magnificent about to unfold.” The switches into present tense (“Mum announces we’re off…”) imply that the narrator is experiencing a vivid recollection that feels as if it is occurring now. This immediacy is reinforced through the use of dialogue, which enables the reader to experience the conversation between the narrator and David as if from a first-hand perspective, immersing us in the story.

There are several examples of hyperbole in the extract, such as the reference to David’s “mixture of stifled fear and pure excitement”. These represent the childhood memory as intense and associated with genuine risk and peril. The sentence “And we were off” begins with a conjunction, adding to the improvised and conversational feel of the extract. The reader is given the impression of being taken into the narrator’s confidence.

As the extract approaches its climax, the narrator focuses on the physical sensation of dread: “the feeling of promised unease filled us from the toes up.” This visceral, tactile image indicates that the childhood memory still has power to disturb their peace of mind. The ellipsis in the final line enhances the suspense and the repetition of “close” implies a very narrow escape. Despite the vivid colour and positive associations of the early part of the extract, the overall impression the writer creates is of a childhood memory they would rather forget.

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Question 3 (3 marks)

Text 3 – Nonfiction extract

Explain how Daniel Gray uses language to invite the reader to share his experiences.

Gray uses inclusive language, such as the plural pronoun “us”, to invite the reader to share his experiences. He appeals to a commonly understood, shared experience (“there we are, in a shop”) and enhances the reader’s ability to identify with this narrative through the use of tactile imagery: “We can tickle spines and open up to brush pages.” The range of metaphors he uses to explore a reader’s relationship with a book – two “wrestler[s]”, a “kangaroo” and her “joey”, books being like “siblings” – is sufficiently wide and varied to appeal to an equally wide and varied group of readers. The tone is conversational and inviting – an effect achieved by omitting the definite article from the beginning of several sentences, such as “Most obvious is…” and “Chances are…” The choice of adjectives in phrases like “saintly thud” and “luscious scrape” makes the passage more lively and vivid, engaging the reader’s interest and assisting them in summoning these aural images to mind. The intertextual reference to “Charlie Bucket unwrapping a Wonka Bar” builds rapport with the reader who is assumed to recognise the allusion. Gray’s enthusiasm for reading and assumed common ground with the reader both contribute to the inviting tone of this text.

Question 4 (3 marks)

Text 4 – Poem

How effectively does the use of imagery convey a human experience?

The combination of similes and metaphors in this poem effectively conveys the persona’s experience of receiving this piece of rock while simultaneously inviting the reader to reflect on similar experiences of their own. The simile “difficult work / like lowering yourself into a bath” connects two apparently juxtaposed ideas to create a puzzle for the reader, reflecting the confusing and seemingly paradoxical nature of the experience described. A further contrast is evoked by the image of “the enormous past, a vast plateau, on which the present moment holds still – / full and complete.” The combination of the adjectives “enormous” and “vast” reinforces the sense of scale which, in turn, communicates the experience of awe. The enjambment at the end of the line “…holds still – ” draws attention to the image of pausing for a moment in the midst of something “vast” and overwhelming. In the following stanza, the image of being “wrapped in the loose embrace” of the natural environment draws attention to the experience of closeness with the natural world which this gift of quartz evoked for the persona. The metaphor of “our young lives… winks in the deep night” reinforces the themes of enormity and the brief span of human life which the persona experiences in sharp contrast to the quartz, which symbolises the longevity of the natural world. The final image – “The quartz bloomed” – represents the persona infusing their own body heat and, by implication, something of their lived human experience into this inanimate object. This implies a kind of kinship of closeness between human beings and the earth itself.


Question 5 (4 marks)

Text 5 – Prose fiction extract

How does Ocean Vuong represent the relationship between the characters?

The intimacy between the two characters is represented by the “real quiet” tone the grandmother adopts, accompanied by her “grinning” expression. The gesture of cutting her hair is portrayed as one which symbolises their closeness, while her nickname for her grandchild – “Little Dog” – is playful and familiar. Despite the narrator dismissing Lan’s stories as “rambling”, he later comments “we collaborated”, suggesting a closeness and shared endeavour. The narrator’s admiration for his grandmother’s storytelling technique is made evident in the final paragraph where he describes how “the blank walls around us did not so much fill with fantastical landscapes as open into them”. This represents the grandmother’s storytelling as artful and almost mystical, conjuring “mythologies” into being in place of “blank walls”. Although the narrator refers to his “task” of cutting his grandmother’s hair and claims that he is “paid” in stories, this mercantile imagery is undercut by the vivid metaphor of the walls “opening” into a world of myth which he uses when describing the power of her stories, implying a sustained willingness to hear them “for the umpteenth time” because he is so moved by them.

Written by Matrix English Team

The Matrix English Team are tutors and teachers with a passion for English and a dedication to seeing Matrix Students achieving their academic goals.

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2023. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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