Standard doesn't scale as well as Advanced? You don't need to read your texts? We are here to debunk 7 most common HSC English Standard myths!
We’re sure you’ve heard of these 7 common English Standard Myths before… We’re here to debunk them for you so you can achieve your best English marks!
The biggest HSC misconception is that you can’t get a good ATAR if you’re doing a lower scaling subject like English Standard.
Scaling refers to the standardisation of raw HSC marks. This means that raw marks are often converted to a UAC score based on the difficulty of the subject and the student’s performance.
If you want to learn more about HSC scaling, take a read of our Beginner’s Guide to ATAR and Scaling.
Scaling exists because it is unfair to say that achieving an 80 in English Advanced is the same as achieving an 80 in English Standard when English Advanced is much more difficult than Standard.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should choose your subjects based on scaling.
Instead, you should study the English level that is most suitable to your skills, performance and interest.
It is better to consistently achieve 80% in English Standard than it is to consistently achieve 50% in English Advanced. Scaling will not save your marks if you aren’t doing well.
If you ask any previous student who did well in their HSC, you will find that they didn’t achieve a high ATAR because of their subject scalings, but because of their performance.
This is a combination of skills, interest and dedication for the subject.
English is a time-intensive subject. So, you need to ensure that you are willing to put in the time and effort to study English.
Here are some things that you should consider when choosing your English level:
Our ‘Should I Study HSC English Standard or Advanced?’ article breaks down the differences between English Standard and Advanced to help you decide which subject is better for you.
Many students think that they can get away with finding textual analysis online instead of reading the text themselves.
However, this is a big rookie error!
Firstly, you will have a very superficial understanding of the text. You won’t be able to break down the text and understand it in depth.
Secondly, you aren’t able to cultivate your own perspectives and judgement about the text. This means that your arguments will be generic and weak.
Thirdly, you won’t be able to remember details about the text. When you engage with the text, you are committing details like textual evidence, character traits and contextual points in your mind. This will help you answer a variety of different questions.
Not only do you have to read your English texts, but you must also read them at least 2 or, ideally, 3 times to get a good grasp of it.
It is crucial that you are engaging with your text, and not simply skimming it.
So, let’s see how we can effectively read your prescribed and related texts for English. At Matrix, we teach our students the Matrix Method for studying English:
The first reading refers to the first time you read or watch your text.
It is all about enjoying the text and understanding it as a whole.
After your first reading, you should:
Your second reading is about finding meaning in the text. This is where you start jotting down notes as you read.
Now, you are breaking the text down to its nitty-gritty details.
This means that you need to return to your identified key scenes or highlighted areas and analyse those passages or parts of the text.
Your aim is to find examples from the text that best reflect the ideas you are interested in.
Identify the techniques present and figure out how it creates meaning.
It is crucial that you are documenting your reading process in your notes. So, how do you write notes for each reading?
The most common issue with studying English is that students memorise a “master essay or creative” for their exams.
However, this is ineffective because:
Remember, teachers aren’t assessing your ability to memorise an essay, they are testing your knowledge and understanding of a text.
Take a read of our ‘5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Memorise Your Essay’ article to learn more about why memorising essays is a big no-no.
Here are a few steps you should take to prepare yourself for your English exams:
You need to read your text at least 3 times to fully understand it. We already went through these steps in detail in the previous myth.
So, let’s quickly summarise it:
You should aim to have one set of master study notes that you are constantly updating throughout the year and a set of exam notes to help you prepare for your exams.
Your master study notes are there to help you find information about your text. It is detailed and good for revision because everything is summarised in there.
On the other hand, your English exam notes are much more concise and only contains the most important information.
So, how do you write English master study notes:
This is a sure way of ensuring that you create strong English study notes:
To learn more about how to write study notes, take a read of our Ultimate Guide to Writing Perfect Study Notes.
We discuss these 3 exam note-taking methods in detail in our How to Write English Exam Notes article.
It’s important that you spend time memorising the key techniques for each theme in the text.
Aim to memorise 3 main sets of evidence for each theme first. Then, once they’re committed to your memory, try to memorise more.
This will help you prepare for a wide range of questions in the exam as you are able to recall techniques for any theme.
If you need help memorising key techniques and themes, take a read of our 7 Tips to Improve Memory article.
Too often students overlook the importance of writing practise essays and scaffolding because it’s “too stressful” or it “takes too much time”.
However, it is crucial that you are always practising, practising, practising!
You want to develop your ability to respond to a wide range of questions so that you are prepared to tackle any question that’s thrown at you in the exam.
Practising essay writing also sharpens your creative thinking skills and tests your recall of different techniques.
If you are crunched for time, write up some scaffolds for the practice questions instead.
You can find questions from past papers, question banks or by asking your teacher for questions.
Here are some of our question banks:
You aren’t born ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at English.
It is a skill that you learn and cultivate with time and practice.
So, don’t lose hope when you’re unhappy with your English marks. Instead, put in the effort to improve.
Here are some tips to help you improve your English skills.
Each English Module has a different focus and tests different skills.
For example, English Adv Module A requires you to compare a pair of texts, whereas Mod B requires you to judge a text’s value.
If you write a whole Mod B essay without critically analysing the text’s values and textual integrity, you cannot achieve a Band 6!
This is why it’s crucial that you know exactly what the syllabus rubric is requiring you to do.
So, when you are reading through the syllabus, get out different coloured highlighters to identify:
Examples are drawn from NESA Year 12 English Advances Common Module Rubric.
It’s vital that you know exactly what to expect when you are sitting your English exams. You need to know its structure in order to be comfortable with the structure of the exams, the questions types and the time limit
The biggest issue with sitting English exams is that students can’t manage their time properly!
You only have 40- 45 minutes for each essay in the HSC. There is no extra time to figure out what the structure of the exam or what types of questions you may be asked in the exam.
So, it is crucial that you familiarise yourself with the exam before you sit it!
To do this, you need to:
You need to know a vast variety of techniques in order to easily analyse texts. This is not only useful for your assigned texts, but also your unseen texts in Paper 1.
So, familiarise yourself with a variety of different literary, film and visual techniques by:
We have a plethora of different techniques, their definitions and examples:
Don’t leave your weaknesses until the night before your exam! Tackle them early so you can continue to advance through your English studies.
To do this, you need to:
So many students fall into the trap of doing their assessments the night before it’s due because they “work better under pressure”.
However, your first draft will have grammatical and spelling errors, verbose and wordy sentences, unclear structures, and unrefined ideas.
That’s why you always need to plan, draft, redraft, edit, get feedback and polish your work.
This means that you have to begin your assessment tasks early: ideally, 3-4 weeks before it’s due (oras soon as you are given a notification)!
At Matrix, we teach students the foolproof Matrix Method for Studying English to produce polished work:
We already went through the first three steps in Myth #2. Now, it’s time to break down the last 4 steps to writing a polished English response.
Planning and scaffolding is a vital step to producing high-quality English responses. It helps you formulate a strong thesis and arguments because you have time to think through the question carefully.
Not only that, it will save you time as well!
Think about it. If you plan properly, you won’t need to waste time looking for evidence or thinking about your next idea to write about.
So, to do plan and scaffold, you need to:
Here is an example of a scaffold:
Notice how the student formulated their thesis and ideas, and even found techniques to support them. This means that once they start writing, they don’t need to stop and think!
Your first draft is supposed to be a draft. This means that you shouldn’t be editing as you write your response.
Instead, aim to get all your ideas and thoughts out on paper.
So, don’t worry about grammar, spelling or sentence structure! Just get everything out, because you can always go back and edit after.
Yes. There will be many mistakes in your first draft (because, surprise, it’s your first draft). But don’t worry. This is what this step is all about.
Take your time to rewrite your draft.
It is a good idea to give yourself a day or two before you go back and re-write your response. This will give you a fresh mind to see areas where you can improve.
So, to re-write your draft, you should:
Now, it’s time to go back and proofread your work. This means that you need to:
You should proofread your work a couple of times to ensure that you picked up all your minor mistakes.
Just because you redrafted your work and edited it, doesn’t mean that it’s ready to be submitted.
Instead, get a few pairs of extra eyes to read over your work and get a second opinion.
Criticism isn’t a bad thing! It’s there to help you improve. So, don’t take it personally.
Now, how do you get feedback?
You’re nearly at the finish line! Now, it’s time for you to read over your work once more and edit any other errors.
Once you’re happy with your response, submit it!
Just because you shouldn’t memorise essays for your exams does not mean that you don’t have preparation work to do!
The English exam question can ask you anything! The possibilities are so broad.
So, you need to be prepared to tackle any question.
This includes ensuring that you know the text extremely well, memorise importance evidence for different themes and practised writing a response in 45 minutes.
Let’s break down the steps for successful English exam preparation.
Ideally, you should be starting 3-4 weeks before your exam. This will give you enough time to refresh your memory about your texts, refine your notes, memorise them and practise exam-taking skills!
It is crucial that you re-read or re-watch your texts before the exam.
There is no way that you can possibly remember everything about a text that you’ve read a few terms ago.
So, re-reading your texts help you refresh your memory. You might even discover new eye-opening findings or change your perspective. This is all part of the process of developing a strong understanding of your text.
Take some time to go through your notes again. To do this, you should:
Your study notes that you’ve been accumulating throughout the year is too dense to memorise!
So, you need to write exam notes to extract the most important information to remember for your exams.
We already went through these above in Myth #3. So, let’s quickly summarise it:
Take your time to memorise your exam notes.
It is crucial that you memorise at least 3 evidence for each main idea of each text because you don’t know what the question will ask you.
So, it’s time to prepare yourself for any possibility!
It is crucial that you are working on past papers to prepare yourself for your English studies.
Aim to complete past papers:
Ensure that you do all three methods of completing past papers to ensure that you are building all the necessary skills to prepare you for your exams.
Note: If you want to learn how to study for English 28 days before your exams, take a look at our 28 Day HSC English Study Plan.
We know that studying for English requires lots of time and effort. However, this doesn’t mean that it will take up all your time.
It’s all about creating a well balanced study time table and using your time efficiently!
Many past high achieving students will tell you that they spend less than 4-5 hours studying for all of their subjects every day.
This is because they study smart, not study hard.
Studying smart happens in the classroom and at home!
So many students overlook the importance of paying attention during class. They think that class time is an opportunity to catch up with their friends and that they can always catch up on the work at home.
However, this is a big waste of time!
Instead of revising at home, you’re starting at square one! You don’t have the luxury of listening to your teacher’s explanations or asking them questions. Instead, you are fumbling through new content by yourself.
This means that your understanding of the content is not only weaker, but you don’t give yourself time to revise and store it in your memory!
Balance your subjects and your life events by creating a schedule!
Ensure that your timetable isn’t too strict to make time for life’s suprises.
You should have a:
It is vital that you are consistently reviewing your notes and practising it.
This will help move it from your short term memory to your long term memory!
So, to do this, you need to:
It is impossible to stay focused if your brother is screaming in the background or if your mum is cooking right in front of you.
So, you need to ensure that you have a dedicated study area.
This means that you shouldn’t be doing anything else apart from studying in this area, so your brain can associate it with focus and study.
This is why it’s not a good idea to study on your bed because the area is associated with sleep!
Sometimes a change in environment can improve your focus and motivation. So, don’t be afraid to move around your house, visit a library or study at a cafe!
As long as you can focus and study in the area, that is good.
If you want to have more efficient study sessions, then remove your distractions!
These include phones, social media, the TV, friends and family.
Install a website blocker and lock your phone away if you cannot control yourself.
After your study session, you can reward yourself.
Many students ignore the importance of eating healthy, hydrating yourself, exercise and sleep.
Just imagine it. You can’t possibly stay focused if you’re feeling bloated or drowsy.
Eating a nutritious meal helps your body restore used energy. This will help you stay focused and have more efficient study sessions.
Drinking water hydrates your cells… including your brain cells! This will help you stay alert and concentrate better.
Exercise increases oxygen flow to your brain, which means that they can function better. Studies show that 20 minutes of exercise a day is enough to improve your memory and concentration.
Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a day helps you relieve stress and improve your memory. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases stress hormone… which is something you don’t want to deal with on your exam day! Furthermore, when you sleep, your brain goes through a memory consolidation process which helps you retain what you’ve learned!