Matrix Blog

English 11-12

How to Stay On Top Of Your English Advanced Study To Get A 99.95 ATAR

In this guest blog post, Matrix Graduate and former scholarship holder Chloe Beydoun, shares how to stay on top of your English Advanced study and ace Year 12.


About the author

Name: Chloe Beydoun

School: Sydney Girls High School (2018 Alumnus)

ATAR: 99.95

Uni Degree:  Medicine at The University of Sydney (2nd Year)


How to Stay on Top of Your English Advanced Study

As the only compulsory subject in the HSC, mastering the skills of the English courses is crucial to HSC success.

Contrary to popular belief, success in English is not reserved for those who are ‘naturally talented’, but is, instead, guaranteed for those who consistently work at it and approach it as less of a chore.

So, in this blog post, I will take you through some of the key steps I followed to ensure I could stay on top of my English Advanced studies.


  1. Read your texts
  2. Read and annotate the syllabus
  3. Mindmapping
  4. Engage with your peers
  5. Engage with the work of others



1. Read your texts

Despite what you may be informed of by your peers, it is simply impossible to reach a deep level of understanding for the key concepts in English Advanced without actively engaging with the elected texts firsts.


1. Use a highlighter and a pen

The most effective way to read texts was to follow them along with a highlighter and pen in hand.

Each time I came across certain quotes or ideas that I felt were insightful, I would highlight them or jot down my initial thoughts.


2. Read the text ‘for leisure’

This is performed, not strictly with the syllabus or themes of the text in mind.

Instead, I approached the text as if I were reading it for leisure.

You will soon find that much of what was striking to you, will more than likely underpin the analysis you will make.

In this way, you are approaching the text from a standpoint that is less singular, formulaic or done-before.

Instead, you are setting yourself up to engage with the text deeper than the surface level analysis or plot summaries offered by Sparknotes and the like.


3. Read the text at least twice

You should ideally have read the text relevant for a given module before you begin studying it at school.

In the most ideal case, you will have come to the text twice:

  1. First to read it for leisure and to gain an understanding of the plot
  2. Then reread it with textual analysis in mind.


Want to achieve English success like Chloe did?

Learn from HSC English experts with Matrix. We will break down your texts and the module content, guide you through essay, creative, and discursive writing and give you actionable feedback that will bring your marks to the next level. Learn more now.

Start HSC English confidently

Expert teachers, detailed feedback, one-to-one help! Learn from home with Matrix+ Online English courses.


2. Read and annotate the syllabus

The first motivation for this step is the fact that all of the questions you will face over the course of the subject will be drawn directly from the syllabus.

The second motivation is that you now have a framework for drawing together all of your thoughts on the text.

Again, this is a step you want to have completed before the module begins being taught at school


1. Highlight key phrases

At the beginning of each module, I would print out the English Advanced module syllabus for the relevant text and go along and highlight the key phrases or terms.


2. Use a dictionary

Be sure to have a dictionary handy as some of the words may be unfamiliar or may be phrased in such a way that makes them appear synonymous when in fact they are not.

For example, the terms ‘anomalous’ and ‘paradoxical’ (which appear in the Common Module syllabus).




3. Mindmapping

A really handy tool for gathering your thoughts on English Advanced and staying on top of your studies is drawing a mindmap for each of your texts. This way, you can come back to it and annotate whenever you come across new ideas.

To do this, you need to elect an A3 page for each text.

Then, as you read the text, you can jot down some important character or plot information, as well as quotes and any other striking features of the text.

Similarly, when you begin to approach the text formally, you can add information about the themes to your mindmap.

At the end of the module, you will have a comprehensive mindmap which you can turn back to as a refresher in the lead up to assessments, trials and the HSC.




4. Engage with your peers

Contrary to the typical approach to English Advanced studies, the best way to stay on top of the workload is to form a study group – perhaps with your school mates or Matrix peers.

This will help you stay accountable for your work and with whom you can brainstorm ideas on the text.


1. Run through a list of questions together

In Year 12, I found it useful to form a study group with 5 other students in my class. We would meet up once a week for an hour or so, and run through a list of questions we each had devised over the week about the text.

This way, I was forced to actively engage with the text throughout the week, in order to make a contribution to the study group.

Furthermore, I was privileged to gain insight into the perspectives that other students had.

Often, our interpretation of the text is moulded by our personal experiences and values. So, it is always rewarding to listen to and consider the perspectives of others.


2. Play the devil’s advocate

In these study groups, it’s also helpful to take an argumentative approach.

Instead of simply agreeing with each other, my study group members and I would actively attempt to play devil’s advocate for each other’s ideas.

This proves useful, given that the most successful English Advanced essays are those which are resistant to any counter-arguments as they are well-supported and thought-out.




5. Engage with the works of others

Leading on from tip 4, a great way to keep on top of your English Advanced study is to consider ideas outside of your own.

I always recommend jotting down and trying to write an entire essay using your own ideas first.

Then take into account essays your peers have written.

My friends and I would always swap our essays during the term and give feedback on each other’s work.

The exercise was great as it meant another pair of eyes could critically consider your work. And, it meant that you could get insight into the other ways in which textual analysis could be carried out.



Final tips:

All in all, staying on top of your English Advanced study is about continuously engaging with your texts over the course of the year.

It’s a great idea to fully immerse yourself within a text before you begin to start considering analysing it.

Even something as simple as watching Youtube videos on the text or reading reviews while you make dinner or take the bus will prove helpful in the long haul.

Written by Guest Author

We have regular contributions to our blog from our Tutor Team and high performing Matrix Students. Come back regularly for these guest posts to learn their study hacks and insights!


© Matrix Education and, 2018. 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Get free study tips and resources delivered to your inbox.

Join 75,893 students who already have a head start.

Our website uses cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. Read our cookies statement.

OK, I understand