Your 28 Day HSC English Adv Study Plan | Free HSC Study Planning Kit

It's a month until your HSC English Exam and you're starting to stress. Are you prepared? Have you had enough practice? Well, this 28 Day HSC English Adv Study Plan will act as a guide to help you figure out your study needs to prepare for your English exams!


This is the last leg of the marathon! Are you feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how to approach your HSC English exams? Don’t worry! Our 28 Days HSC English Adv Study Plan is here to break down this process, so you can focus on your exams… not planning to study for your exams!


Here’s a quick breakdown of your 28 Day HSC English Adv Study Plan:

Remember, you will need to allocate your time accordingly to your subject urgency. This means that you might need to study multiple subjects within the same day or spread out your studies over a few days.

For example, you may choose to spend more time to revise your weaker subjects or content-heavy subjects, and combine your ‘more confident’ subjects within a day.

Just ensure that you give yourself enough time to go through all your subject’s content carefully.


Here is a sample calendar that you can use for inspiration for your own planning for your English studies:

Note: Bolded activities will take approximately 5-7 hours, whereas the unbolded activities should only take approximately 30 minutes. These unbolded activities are supposed to be small additional activities to help you further develop your English studies!

Week 1English Paper 1 and 2 preparation and notesRe-read / re-watch texts

Add notes

Re-read / re-watch texts

Add notes

Re-read / re-watch texts

Add notes

Re-read / re-watch texts

Add notes

Rest & Relaxation (R&R)
Week 2Revise and memorise Paper 1 and 2 notes

Scaffold responses for Paper 1 and 2 past papers

Read through solutions for Paper 1 and 2

Discuss texts and issues with friends

Add to notes

Memorise / revise notesR&R
Week 31x Paper 1 past paper (exam conditions)

Complete / scaffold 2-3x Paper 1 past papers (untimed, open book)

Read solutions

1x Paper 2 past paper (exam conditions)

Complete / scaffold 2-3x Paper 2 past papers (untimed, open book)

Read solutions

Seek feedback for Paper 1 and 2 responses

Revise notes

Work on feedbackR&R
Week 42x Paper 1 past paper (exam conditions)

Read solutions

Review notes

2x Paper 2 past paper (exam conditions)

Read solutions

Review notes

Discuss texts and issues with friends

Revise notes

Exam week Revise Paper 1 notes



Remember, this is just a guide. Feel free to add or remove some activities, or move them around.

Your calendar should be based on your study needs.

We go through how to figure out your study subject goals in our Get HSC Ready in 28 Days guide.




Before Week 1: Housekeeping

Before you begin your 28 Day Study Plan, you need to do some housekeeping first! This step is all about figuring your goals, exam dates, weak and strong subjects and subject priorities.

  1. Figure out your goals: University. Degree. ATAR.
  2. Rate your subjects based on your rank, confidence and urgency (The reverse ATAR calculator will help you figure this out)
  3. Allocate your time
  4. Set your study subject goals
  5. Write your 28-day study timetable

This is a quick summary of our Get HSC Ready in 28 Days guide. You can read it for more details.


Download your 28-day study planning kit, here!


Week 1: Preparation and notes

The first week is all about preparing yourself for some intense study sessions! We will organise your notes, target your English weak spots and familiarise yourself with the HSC English exams.

Note: You can choose to work on these steps within a day, or spread it out over the course of a week. It depends on your preferences and subject urgency!

  1. Organise current notes (15-30 minutes)
  2. Familiarise yourself with the exam (15-30 minutes)
  3. Target weaknesses (60-90 minutes)
  4. Write exam notes (60-120 minutes)
  5. Re-read or re-watch your texts (120+ minutes)

Back to top

Next section: Revision and Quiz


Step 1: Organise current notes (15-30 minutes)

The first step is all about making sure your current English notes are up to date and are organised neatly.

This is an important step as it ensures that you don’t have any missing gaps in your knowledge and that your notes are easily accessible (and not all over the place).

Remember, you shouldn’t be writing new notes in this section! This is supposed to be a clean up of your current notes that you’ve been writing throughout the year.

So, how do we do this?

  1. Separate your notes based on the modules
  2. Categorise each module notes by themes and text
  3. Add additional evidence or analysis if it is missing from your notes
  4. Carefully go through the syllabus and add additional notes of any missing dot points
  5. Flag any areas that you are unconfident about, so you can return to them!


Step 2: Familiarise yourself with the exam (15-30 minutes)

It is vital that you know what to expect when you enter your HSC English exams. You don’t want to walk in and be completely shocked at the structure, questions and time limit!

You need to:

  1. Read through English Paper 1 and 2 past papers. You can find the 2019 English HSC papers here.
  2. Understand the structure of the exam and different question types
  3. Identify commonly asked questions/focusses
  4. Read through sample answers and essays
  5. Take notes of unfamiliar/unconfident aspects of the exam


Here are some useful links to help you familiarise yourself with the HSC English exam:

Note: Past papers from 2018 and earlier are based on the old syllabus. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re useless!

You should still read through them and examine their different question types, sample solutions and marking criteria.

This valuable information can be easily applied to the 2019 English syllabus! Click here to view the past HSC English Papers and Marking Criteria (Scroll to ‘English Advanced’, and click the arrow down to see list of past papers).

We also have articles that break down the HSC English papers and modules:


Step 3: Target weaknesses (60-90 minutes)

When you were going through your notes and past papers, you would have come across some confusing areas. So, today is all about dealing with those issues!

We want to deal with your problems early, not the night before the exam!

How do I identify my weaknesses?

  1. Go through past assessments and exams and identify common errors or areas for improvement
  2. Identify confusing or unclear areas from your notes
  3. Rate your confidence level for different syllabus dot points

Once you’ve figured out your weaknesses, it is time to:

  1. Seek help from your teachers! Send them an email or meet them at school.
  2. Research your text. Find reliable sources and read up.
  3. Discuss the problem with your friends and find solutions together
  4. Add these findings in your notes
  5. Practise what you’ve learned with past papers!


Step 4: Write exam notes (1 -2 hours)

Exam notes are different from study notes. Whereas, study notes covers everything you learned in the year in detail…

Exam notes are short, concise and only contains the most important information you need for your exams.

They are useful when you are trying to memorise the key information before an exam because they are very specific.

Here are some useful ways you can prepare your exam notes:

  1. Create a list of the most important evidence for each theme of each text (prioritise your top 3, then your secondary 3 evidence)
  2. Draw a master mind-map, flow chart or table to show connections between different themes for each module
  3. Write up some essay scaffolds

You can choose to do all 3, or select 1 or 2 options. It is up to you to decide which method(s) will help you the most.

To learn more about how to write study notes, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Writing Perfect Study Notes. It also includes a Free Note-taking Kit to help you write and organise your notes


Step 5: Re-read or re-watch your texts (120+ minutes)

By now, you would’ve first read your Common Module texts a year ago! If that was also your last time reading it… then that’s a bit of a problem.

It is very important that you refresh your memory about your texts.

This will help you better remember the text and you may even find new discoveries about the text!

So, over the course of the week, take some time to re-read or re-watch your English texts.

You should:

  1. Refresh your memory about the events, characters, themes, main ideas and message
  2. Identify any high order or important techniques that you previously missed
  3. Take notes on any new and profound findings

Note: If you feel like you are short on time, you can always skim over your novels and/or dramas. It is up to you to decide the appropriate time you need to spend on your different texts and modules based on your needs.




Week 2: Revision and quiz

By now, you should have already identified your weak and strong modules. It is up to you to allocate appropriate revision time for your different English modules.

So, let’s see some methods we can use to revise for our English modules.

  1. Familiarise yourself with the syllabus (10-20 minutes)
  2. Review and memorise notes (90-120 minutes)
  3. Familiarise yourself with literary, visual and film techniques (30-45 minutes)
  4. Quiz yourself by reading through past papers (60-120 minutes)
  5. Learn with friends
  6. Continue to target weak areas

Back to top

Next section: Past papers


Step 1: Familiarise yourself with the syllabus 10-20 minutes)

Each module requires you to focus on different elements.

For example, Module A: Textual Conversations require you to compare two texts and analyse their exploration of societal values and perspectives. On the other hand, Module B: Critical Study of Literature requires you to evaluate the relevance of text and their textual integrity.

There are 2 main things that you need to focus on when you are reading a syllabus:

  • Module content:
    • eg. “comparative study of texts can reveal resonances and dissonances between and within texts”
    • eg. “composers (authors, poets, playwrights, directors, designers and so on) are influenced by other texts, contexts and values, and how this shapes meaning”
  • Skills:
    • eg. “develop appropriate analytical and evaluative language”
    • eg. “responding imaginatively, interpretively and critically students”

So, take out 2 different highlighters and highlight these aspects.

Note: Examples are drawn from NESA’s Year 12 English Syllabus, Module A: Textual Conversation.


Step 2: Memorise and review notes (90-120 minutes)

Before you jump into working on past papers, you need to revise!

So, get out your study notes (not your exam notes) and let’s revise:

  1. Read through a small chunk of information each time
  2. Do the ‘look, cover, test‘ method (i.e. read your content then try to recall the information without looking at it)
  3. Highlight any key information
  4. Asterisks any ‘iffy’ or confusing areas

Here are some memorisation tips you might find useful:

  • Read it out loud
  • Visualise the information
  • Use mnemonics
  • Give meaning to the content (i.e. make the content relatable)
  • ‘Test’ yourself by writing the content down onto paper
  • Teach someone


Step 3: Familiarise yourself with literary, film and visual techniques (paper 1)

Memorising evidence from your text is not enough. Paper 1 also requires you to analyse unseen texts!

So, ensure that you are familiar with different literary, film and visual techniques. To do this, you need to:

  1. Expose yourself to a wide variety of techniques
  2. Memorise the technique and its general effect
  3. Try to identify them when you are quizzing yourself or doing past papers

Remember, the more practice you have with identifying and analysing these techniques, the easier it will be to do it!

We have many articles that list different techniques, define them, and provide examples:


Step 4: Quiz yourself by reading through past papers (60-120 minutes)

This step is about quickly testing how well you understand the texts, remember their evidence, identify techniques and your application your knowledge.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to stress over doing past papers under exam conditions… yet.

So, let’s quiz your knowledge by:

  • Answering the questions in dot point form, or rough scaffolds
  • Read the solutions to see what the markers are looking for
  • Mark your work based on provided solutions

Remember to take notes of your mistakes, so you can keep track of your progress and identify ways to fix them.


Step 5: Learn with friends

Your HSC doesn’t have to be a lonely process. You have friends who are in the same boat as you!

Studying with your friends for English can be very beneficial because gain new insight about the texts.

So, call or meet up with our friends and discuss:

  • Texts: themes, ideas, evidence, perspective and thoughts
  • Past papers: go through different questions and mark each other


Step 6: Target weak areas

As you continue to revise and test yourself, you will find more weaknesses! It is important that you are continually dealing with them to improve.

So, as we already mentioned, you will need to:

  • Ask your teachers
  • Research
  • Discuss with friends



Week 3: Past papers, past papers and more!

This week, we are upping the ante!

  1. Complete past papers under exam conditions
  2. Complete past papers, open book
  3. Test your friends
  4. Seek feedback from teachers


You should aim to complete:

English Paper 1English Paper 2
  • 1x Past paper under exam conditions
  • 2-3x Past papers in your own time
  • 1x Past paper under exam conditions
  • 2-3x Past papers in your own time

Try to complete your Paper 1 studies within a day, and your Paper 2 Studies within the next day.

If you are running out of time, simply respond to the question in dot-point form.

Note: This is a rough guide. Feel free to do more or fewer papers at whichever pace you find is best. You know your subject strengths and weaknesses, so it is up to you to make decisions that are best for your HSC.


So, where can we find English past papers?

We provided some examples above:

Back to top

Next section: Past papers and revision


Step 1: Complete past papers in exam conditions:

We know doing past papers under exam conditions is stressful and requires a lot of effort.

However, this is important because it will help you improve your exam-taking skills.

You will improve your:

  • Time management (1 essay in 35-45 minutes!)
  • Writing speed
  • Ability to think on the spot
  • Ability to deal with stress
  • Ability to recall important information and evidence

So, what does it mean to complete a past paper under exam conditions?

  • It is closed book – no notes!
  • It is done under timed conditions
  • There are no phones, electronics or any other distractions
  • Don’t talk to your family members or friends
  • Find a quiet environment
  • Complete it like you are sitting the HSC Exam

You can choose to complete the whole exam within 2 hours or complete each section in 45-minute (Paper 1) or 40-minute (Paper 2) blocks.



Step 2: Complete past papers, open book:

Although doing past papers under exam conditions is beneficial, you should also aim to do them open book too. Both have different benefits that are essential for your HSC studies.

You should:

  1. Break down each question carefully and understand what it requires you to do
  2. Find the strongest and most appropriate evidence for each question
  3. Expose yourself to a wide variety of questions types
  4. Edit and improve your responses after viewing the solutions

So, how do we complete an open book past paper?

  • You can refer to your notes to help you find the strongest evidence (However, try not to do this too much! Test what you remember and don’t)
  • Write in full responses
  • Write in scaffolds once you are confident about answering a particular question type (Although, you should still aim to write in full responses when time allows it)
  • Read solutions
  • Seek help if you need it
  • Spend more time on challenging questions


Additional step: Test your friends!

If you have some spare time, you can work with your friends and test one another!

You can:

  1. Write HSC style questions with your friends to accumulate a bank of questions.
  2. Work through these individually and then mark each other’s responses


  1. Mark each other’s responses to past paper questions

Why do this?

  • Writing questions is helpful because it forces you to think deeply about the syllabus and its connection with the text
  • Answering your friend’s questions will expose you to a wider variety of questions
  • Marking each other’s work will help you write better as you identify their strengths and weaknesses


Additional: Seek feedback from your teachers

You should aim to seek feedback from your school and Matrix teachers as well! Send both your Paper 1 and Paper 2 responses to your teachers.

You should always:

  1. Highlight your concerns when you ask your teacher for feedback
    • eg. “I am not sure if my analysis is strong enough. Can you please give this response a look?”
  2. Be polite when asking
  3. Work on feedback

This is a sure way to identify weaknesses that you overlooked and find ways to deal with these.




Week 4: Past papers and revisions

This is your last week before your first HSC exam!

You shouldn’t be learning any new content this week. It is supposed to be a quick revision and practice week.

  1. Revision
  2. Past paper in exam conditions
  3. Scaffold answers
  4. Chill out

Back to top


Step 1: Revision

Since your exams are in a week, you should spend some time revising over your notes.

Revising your study notes will ensure that:

  • You remember the general information about the texts
  • You aren’t forgetting any important content

Revising your exam notes will ensure that you:

  • Remember your most important evidence
  • Know exactly where everything is located, so you are able to quickly identify them when you are revising them before your exam day


So, how do you revise your notes:

  1. Skim over your study notes to refresh your memory of the content
    1. Do the ‘look cover and check’ method for important parts
  2. Spend additional time reviewing modules that you are not confident
  3. Carefully go through your exam notes
    1. Highlight key points
    2. Annotate an information
    3. Memorise (by using our memorisation techniques above)


Step 2: Past papers in exam conditions

Continue to complete past papers in exam conditions.

Try to focus on refining your exam skills and exposing yourself to a variety of different question types.


Additional: Scaffold answers

If you have extra time, read over past papers and quickly scaffold answers for each question. You can write this down as dot points or do it in your head.

In another browser, cross-check your answers with the solutions. Pay attention to how they answer their questions and grade your response.


Day 28: Chill day

This is your chill day! It is very important that you are not cramming your studies today.

Instead, you should spend simply review your notes. You can also read over past papers and quickly scaffold answers in your head.

However, the main thing you need to do today is to relax!

Ensure that you are well-rested. Go for a walk. Eat healthy and nutritional meals. And sleep early!

Good luck with your Paper 1 exam!



Revise for your HSC English Advanced exam in 6 days

Our HSC Exam Preparation Course is an intensive 6-day course that goes through every English module to prepare you for your exams. Our experienced HSC teachers will provide you personalised feedback on your written work to sharpen your skills before your exams! Learn more about HSC Exam Preparation Course.


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