Part 14: Breakdown of The Year 12 Assessments and HSC (2018)

In Year 12, it is important to be aware of what your assessments will be in advance so you can plan your study time accordingly well before the assessments are upon you. In this part of the Guide, we look at how many assessments you will face in Year 12 and what they will entail.

year 12 english assessments

What are the The Year 12 Assessments?

In this final part of the guide, we’ll give you an overview of the Year 12 English Assessments and different parts of the HSC. Students in Year 12 often lose sight of the bigger picture and don’t think about how all of their assessments fit together and how they should plan ahead to deal with them. Have you planned out what assessments you have, when they are, and what Module they are for? You’re not alone.

Most students get caught up in the immediacy of Year 12 and end up being reactive rather than proactive.

To succeed in Year 12, you really need to be on top of your assessments and schedule from day one. This may sound daunting, but we have your back.

In this article we discuss:

The Year 12 English Assessments

Year 12 assessments are made up of internal and external assessments. The external assessment is the HSC which is comprised of Paper 1 and Paper 2. Your internal marks comprise 50% of your HSC Mark and your HSC Examination result comprises the other 50% of your HSC Mark. Your HSC mark will determine which performance band (out of 6) you will be placed in.

Internal Assessment Weighting

The internal assessments may differ between schools, but the number of assessments each student faces is mandated by NESA to be either 5 or 6. The policy of standard assessment and reporting is done so that all students in NSW in Year 12 undertake the same number of assessments with a specific weighting (meaning distribution) of marks.

Table: Weighting of Assessments
Component Weighting
Area of Study 40
Module A 20
Module B 20
Module C 20

In addition, the assessment tasks must assess a selection of English “Modes” – or types of skills. Those specific skillsets include – listening comprehension, reading comprehension, speaking and oral presentation, viewing/ representing, and writing. The marks assigned to these tasks also need to have a specific weighting.

Modes that must be assessed Weighting
Table: Weighting of the Modes Assessed
Listening 15
Speaking 15
Reading 25
Writing 30
Viewing / Representing 15

NESA does not mandate which assessment will be had for which Module. This means that there is little consistency between schools as to what Module will have a listening task or require a speech.

Generally speaking, the writing task – which is the essay component – is usually only assessed during the HSC trials. Students normally only have one oral task, either a Viva Voce or a speech. Listening tasks are either coupled with short answer responses or a longer, essay response. For their representing task, you will likely need to make a collage or image that demonstrates a key idea for the Module or AOS text you are studying.

Students normally have an assessment for each module and then have the HSC Trials count as the fifth internal assessment (though some schools occasionally have 6 assessments to allow for an additional essay task).

If you would like to know more about HSC marks, scaling, and learn how your ATAR is calculated, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to ATAR and Scaling. If you want to work out what marks you’ll need to for the ATAR you’re chasing, you should use our ATAR calculator.

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The HSC Trial Examination

All HSC students sit an HSC Trial examination. This is essentially a dry-run of the HSC that carries a much smaller weighting than the proper HSC Exam. Depending on when your school sits the HSC Trial exam, not all the HSC English Modules may be assessed.

The HSC Trial exam will have two papers:

  • Paper One which will be an Area of Study Paper, and
  • Paper Two which will assess the other Modules you have completed.

The Trial papers will have the same structure as the HSC Paper.

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The HSC Examination

The HSC Examination is sat by every student in Year 12. It is currently sat over two days, usually the first Monday and Wednesday during the examination period.  The HSC Exam for English Advanced has two parts:

  • Paper One which is focused on AOS, and
  • Paper Two which addresses Modules A, B, and C.

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Let’s have a look at what is involved in these papers.

Paper One

Paper One has three sections, all of which are focused on AOS. Each section assesses a particular skillset – essay writing, comprehension, and creative writing. Students receive 2hrs writing time and 10 minutes writing time. This paper is worth 45 marks.

  • Section One – This is the comprehension and short answer section. This section will comprise a number of written and visual texts. Students will get 10 minutes reading time, they will then have 40 minutes to answer a series of questions on the texts. This section is worth fifteen marks.
  • Section Two – This is a creative task. You will be given a stimulus and have to write a creative piece in response to it. You have 40 minutes to respond to this section, but you should aim for 30 or 35 minutes. Most students prepare 2 or 3 creative pieces and mould them to suit the stimulus. This section has fifteen marks up for grabs.
  • Section Three – This is the essay question. There is one question for the entire range of AOS texts. This question is usually drawn from the AOS rubric and is comprised of two statements and then an instruction. Students have 40 minutes to write this response. It is worth fifteen marks, also. It is not a good idea to memorise an essay for this question as it will draw on random parts of the syllabus document.

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Paper Two

Paper Two also has 3 sections, each section focuses on a different Module. Students will get 5 minutes reading time and 2 hrs writing time. This equates to forty minutes per section. This paper is worth 60 marks.

  • Section 1 – A question on Module A. There is one question for each text pairing. This is normally a very specific question on a contextual theme in your comparative study. Band 6 essays are usually very specific and clearly written specifically to answer the question.
  • Section 2 – A question on Module B. This is a text-specific question, too. These questions are usually very different. While the questions will follow a pattern for the different texts, each question will be very specific to a particular theme in an essay. These questions will often ask for themes that are not major and will require critical thinking to answer.
  • Section 3 – A question on Module C. Module C questions are usually one question for each section rather than for each pairing. These questions will actually be quite difficult as they address conceptual ideas about representation.

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Additional Essential Resources

Stage 6 English is large and complex. To be successful students should take advantage of as many resources as they can. Below are some free external resources that Matrix English Teachers and Students recommend.

A list of essential external resources

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What Next?

We hope you found this guide and the links provided to be a useful resource for aiding your English Studies throughout Year 11 and 12. Matrix hopes that you are successful in achieving your academic goals for English for the coming year.

Want to Rewrite Your English Mark?

Did you know the Trials are your last chance to ace you English at school?

If you’re struggling with your English marks now, you’d better get on top of it before you run out of time. But don’t worry, Matrix is here to help!

Our Trial HSC English Advanced Prep Course covers all the Modules in detail to help you boost your results. Learn how to maximise your Trial marks.


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