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English Trials/HSC Help! (1 Viewer)

girlwithnoname

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Hi everyone!

So I am really struggling with English Advanced at the moment. It feels like no matter how much I sit down and practice, watch youtube/edrolo videos, peer mark, or get feedback from my teacher, my marks never seem to improve and they've been pretty stagnant all year (and for my schooling life for that matter), usually sitting 1-2 marks short of an 'A' grade. I'm finding it really confusing as teachers seem to provide me with different feedback, and I don't actually know what to do to improve my marks. I have a pretty good understanding of my content (texts), but since we don't really get taught English skills per se, I think that's where I'm struggling.

I suppose my question is, how do English teachers (internally and NESA markers) actually mark trial/HSC papers? In my opinion, the criteria is so subjective, I don't understand how they can possibly gauge each response fairly and consistently.

For example, the comparisons for 'B' range and 'A' range responses might be:
Analyses vs. effectively analyses
Evaluates vs. skilfully evaluates
Presents a thoughtful response vs an insightful response
Demonstrates an informed vs well-informed understanding

How do teachers determine what constitutes as thoughtful vs insightful, or simply analysing compared to effectively analysing? There are no 'objective' criteria in English (due to its subjective nature), as in there is no recommended amount of techniques, quotes etc. So I guess, how do I do better? What do I need to do to differentiate myself from the B range to the A range? Is anyone else struggling to understand this type of subjective criteria?

Any advice is much appreciated. 😊
 

fuzi

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Heyo!

Okay, for starters, I very much get what you mean and what it feels like for you, my English Advanced marks have been very hit or miss throughout the year.

Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks I've learned from my advanced teacher on how they actually do mark things, or what distinguishes that A range response from the B range.

1. Making the question your own! This one is a bit difficult to explain at times, but what it means is don't turn the question into a statement and use that as your thesis. Be more specific, be more insightful. For example, rather than "author uses language to explore the importance of memory in shaping human experience", may be you could something like "author's fragmented structure shapes an insightful representation of the significance of memory in human motivation." To be honest, I'm still not the best at this in terms of English Advanced so my example may not be the best, but hopefully it's a step in the right direction!

2. Evaluate. Evaluate. Evaluate. Even when the question doesn't ask for an evaluation, in an essay, does not hurt to evaluate. For one thing, a lot of the rubric statements say evaluate in them so you're showing knowledge of the rubric in some ways, for another, in term's of Bloom's taxonomy, when you evaluate, you should be doing everything else the question asks you to anyways. So when you evaluate even if the question doesn't ask you, you're going above and beyond the question.

3. Sustained response, so basically the structure, flow, etc. of your essay. For the A range, they are almost always answering the question in some way or another or logically building to it.

4. Complexity and clarity in expression. Do you bust out the thesaurus? A bit, yes. That isn't to say to use synonyms at every turn and pack your essay with words even you don't understand, but changing things up from the usual "effective", for example, goes a long way and shows that you use language deliberately. Other things like nominalisation (turning verbs into nouns, i.e. acknowledges to acknowledgement) and avoiding vagueness, so don't start a sentence with "this provides...", for the marker, grammatically "this" isn't referring to anything.

These are some of the tips I've learned and I hope they help! A lot of the time being specific in what you're saying with clarity and a unique perspective on the question shows that deeper insight and an understanding of nuance in the text. At times what even distinguishes that low A from a high A is the expression :))
 

girlwithnoname

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Heyo!

Okay, for starters, I very much get what you mean and what it feels like for you, my English Advanced marks have been very hit or miss throughout the year.

Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks I've learned from my advanced teacher on how they actually do mark things, or what distinguishes that A range response from the B range.

1. Making the question your own! This one is a bit difficult to explain at times, but what it means is don't turn the question into a statement and use that as your thesis. Be more specific, be more insightful. For example, rather than "author uses language to explore the importance of memory in shaping human experience", may be you could something like "author's fragmented structure shapes an insightful representation of the significance of memory in human motivation." To be honest, I'm still not the best at this in terms of English Advanced so my example may not be the best, but hopefully it's a step in the right direction!

2. Evaluate. Evaluate. Evaluate. Even when the question doesn't ask for an evaluation, in an essay, does not hurt to evaluate. For one thing, a lot of the rubric statements say evaluate in them so you're showing knowledge of the rubric in some ways, for another, in term's of Bloom's taxonomy, when you evaluate, you should be doing everything else the question asks you to anyways. So when you evaluate even if the question doesn't ask you, you're going above and beyond the question.

3. Sustained response, so basically the structure, flow, etc. of your essay. For the A range, they are almost always answering the question in some way or another or logically building to it.

4. Complexity and clarity in expression. Do you bust out the thesaurus? A bit, yes. That isn't to say to use synonyms at every turn and pack your essay with words even you don't understand, but changing things up from the usual "effective", for example, goes a long way and shows that you use language deliberately. Other things like nominalisation (turning verbs into nouns, i.e. acknowledges to acknowledgement) and avoiding vagueness, so don't start a sentence with "this provides...", for the marker, grammatically "this" isn't referring to anything.

These are some of the tips I've learned and I hope they help! A lot of the time being specific in what you're saying with clarity and a unique perspective on the question shows that deeper insight and an understanding of nuance in the text. At times what even distinguishes that low A from a high A is the expression :))
Oh my goodness, thank you so much, you are a lifesaver! These are such great tips, especially the first one, I'm going to need to practice elevating my thesis statements to a more 'insightful' level rather than sorta reiterating the question. It can be really hard to come up with a good thesis on the spot!

In regards to your last point, when you say avoiding vagueness such as in 'this provides...' is it fine to use a 'this' sentence if you are being specific about your previous point/explanation? For example, in a 1984 essay, after explaining the relationship between Winston and Julia, would it still be considered sophisticated to lead on with something like 'This relationship dynamic between the couple crafted by Orwell depicts..."?

Again, thank you so much for the tips, really really appreciate it! 😊
 

fuzi

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Oh my goodness, thank you so much, you are a lifesaver! These are such great tips, especially the first one, I'm going to need to practice elevating my thesis statements to a more 'insightful' level rather than sorta reiterating the question. It can be really hard to come up with a good thesis on the spot!

In regards to your last point, when you say avoiding vagueness such as in 'this provides...' is it fine to use a 'this' sentence if you are being specific about your previous point/explanation? For example, in a 1984 essay, after explaining the relationship between Winston and Julia, would it still be considered sophisticated to lead on with something like 'This relationship dynamic between the couple crafted by Orwell depicts..."?

Again, thank you so much for the tips, really really appreciate it! 😊
All good! In that instance, I would say that it's okay since you're specifying the relationship dynamic after it, though I did do something like that once and my teacher didn't mark me down for it anything but they did tell me to be careful of it
 

girlwithnoname

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All good! In that instance, I would say that it's okay since you're specifying the relationship dynamic after it, though I did do something like that once and my teacher didn't mark me down for it anything but they did tell me to be careful of it
Okay I'll be wary of this in the future and try to avoid it where possible! Thank you so much!
 

Ethereum

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In the HSC, the English markers are far more lenient and, in most cases, will not be pedantic when marking essays. You are not expected to craft a Shakespearean equivalent piece in the span of 40 minutes, let alone something of 'perfection' which a 20/20 essay internally marked requires. All the HSC markers are looking for is a short and clear thesis that ANSWERS the question. While this may seem obvious, plenty of students I know take English as a subject of regurgitating complicated words that only muddle their argument. Overall, answer the question and be succinct as markers have a short amount of time, I believe 5 minutes, to mark your response. From previous years, I have found that a 17 - 18 in internal tasks is correlated with a band 6, so do not stress and keep practising.
 

girlwithnoname

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In the HSC, the English markers are far more lenient and, in most cases, will not be pedantic when marking essays. You are not expected to craft a Shakespearean equivalent piece in the span of 40 minutes, let alone something of 'perfection' which a 20/20 essay internally marked requires. All the HSC markers are looking for is a short and clear thesis that ANSWERS the question. While this may seem obvious, plenty of students I know take English as a subject of regurgitating complicated words that only muddle their argument. Overall, answer the question and be succinct as markers have a short amount of time, I believe 5 minutes, to mark your response. From previous years, I have found that a 17 - 18 in internal tasks is correlated with a band 6, so do not stress and keep practising.
Phew, this is a huge relief. I think what I'm most worried about is actually internal exams (as opposed to hand-ins), because I have done okayish on the hand-ins (16/20 and 12/15) but in my Mod A exam I received a 15/20 which is the lowest I've ever gotten in English. This makes me really worried for my upcoming trial. I have crafted practice essays with feedback from my teacher and have gotten it to a 20/20 level, but there's no way I can replicate something of that nature in my trial exam. Thesis statements don't come to me quickly, and I struggle with making them 'clear' because the idea doesn't really come to me until I'm already writing my paragraph, if that makes sense. I'm definitely guilty of throwing in sophisticated language (in exam settings) which might hinder the clarity of my argument, I'm just worried it'll sound 'basic' otherwise. I really, really want a band 6 in English but I'm worried my internal marks in the trial are going to stop me from getting it. Hopefully you're right in that the HSC will be more lenient and that can hopefully boost my marks. :(
 

Run hard@thehsc

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@girlwithnoname whats your current approach to the different mods. Do you have an idea of what your general structure of the body paras will be (i.e. the main conceptual focus, evidence, context, mod links etc)?
 

pikachu975

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In the HSC, the English markers are far more lenient and, in most cases, will not be pedantic when marking essays. You are not expected to craft a Shakespearean equivalent piece in the span of 40 minutes, let alone something of 'perfection' which a 20/20 essay internally marked requires. All the HSC markers are looking for is a short and clear thesis that ANSWERS the question. While this may seem obvious, plenty of students I know take English as a subject of regurgitating complicated words that only muddle their argument. Overall, answer the question and be succinct as markers have a short amount of time, I believe 5 minutes, to mark your response. From previous years, I have found that a 17 - 18 in internal tasks is correlated with a band 6, so do not stress and keep practising.
Agreed, I got a band 6 and my language was far from beautiful, it was just all basic language. Maybe if you're shooting for 95+ you might need nice sounding sentences but my basic language got a b6. Basically I was memorising essays and doing bad because "I wasn't answering the question", so I decided to memorise quotes only and just spammed the question after like every quote/technique and somehow ended up doing well from that. Going back to basis definitely works - topic sentence, 2-3 quotes (forgot how many, depended on the module if it was comparison of texts or just 1 text e.g. poems) relating to the paragraph theme and the question, then linking sentence.
 

girlwithnoname

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@girlwithnoname whats your current approach to the different mods. Do you have an idea of what your general structure of the body paras will be (i.e. the main conceptual focus, evidence, context, mod links etc)?
Yes, the approach I'm taking at this point is to kind of have overarching theses and adaptable techniques/quotes as evidence, which I sort of manipulate to fit the question given. I'm quite prepared for Module A, because in a comparative study, 99% of questions are about the 'resonances and dissonances' or some sort of 'reframe/reimagine' which is really easy to expand on for my text choice (Keats & Bright Star). The way I've formulated my study notes is mostly thematically, with example theses, and TEE tables (Technique, Evidence, Effect) for all of the modules. I'm somewhat having a hard time with the Common Module (1984), so many practice questions focus on a specific human experience or a very specific statement, and I have to formulate a thesis on the spot. Also true for Module B (King Henry IV) where most questions are a statement to agree/disagree with, and also force me to come up with an idea pretty much on the spot. Don't even get me started on Module C, I have not a creative bone in my body, and my approach has been to pretty much manipulate predetermined ideas, characters, etc. to the question/stimulus given. The unseen texts don't seem too bad, I 'create' rather than 'search' for the answer, but there's the occasional ones which throw me completely off.
 

girlwithnoname

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Agreed, I got a band 6 and my language was far from beautiful, it was just all basic language. Maybe if you're shooting for 95+ you might need nice sounding sentences but my basic language got a b6. Basically I was memorising essays and doing bad because "I wasn't answering the question", so I decided to memorise quotes only and just spammed the question after like every quote/technique and somehow ended up doing well from that. Going back to basis definitely works - topic sentence, 2-3 quotes (forgot how many, depended on the module if it was comparison of texts or just 1 text e.g. poems) relating to the paragraph theme and the question, then linking sentence.
Wow, that's great, however doesn't seem to be quite working for me sadly. I think I have a similar approach, in doing thesis, explanation, techniques/quotes, and linking sentence, all which correlate to the question. General feedback from my teacher is that there's no 'issue' per se in my writing, but it's instead a lot of little things that could be made better here and there, part of why it's so hard to improve it (I can't really see it in my own writing until my teacher makes it evident).

It would be really nice to get over the 95 mark, the main reason I want the band 6 is to achieve the ATAR I want (really want 99+ but will be happy with over 95 I suppose), and it would be nice to try and achieve the all-rounder award. I'm quite confident that I could achieve band 6s in my other subjects, it's just that I really lack in English and don't actually know HOW to fix the issue when I can't identify it in my own writing. I'm frustrated with how subjective English is as a compulsory subject, and how every teacher marks differently. In Year 11 for our multimodal presentation, one teacher said using 'flowers' was a good symbolic idea, and the teacher who marked my assessment said it was 'too literal' so I suffered bad marks even following teacher advice. In all my other subjects, its easy to read a textbook and respond to any question, but English is so much of a guessing game. I'm more than willing to put in the hard work to improve, it's just frustrating not knowing where to put the hard work.
 

pikachu975

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Wow, that's great, however doesn't seem to be quite working for me sadly. I think I have a similar approach, in doing thesis, explanation, techniques/quotes, and linking sentence, all which correlate to the question. General feedback from my teacher is that there's no 'issue' per se in my writing, but it's instead a lot of little things that could be made better here and there, part of why it's so hard to improve it (I can't really see it in my own writing until my teacher makes it evident).

It would be really nice to get over the 95 mark, the main reason I want the band 6 is to achieve the ATAR I want (really want 99+ but will be happy with over 95 I suppose), and it would be nice to try and achieve the all-rounder award. I'm quite confident that I could achieve band 6s in my other subjects, it's just that I really lack in English and don't actually know HOW to fix the issue when I can't identify it in my own writing. I'm frustrated with how subjective English is as a compulsory subject, and how every teacher marks differently. In Year 11 for our multimodal presentation, one teacher said using 'flowers' was a good symbolic idea, and the teacher who marked my assessment said it was 'too literal' so I suffered bad marks even following teacher advice. In all my other subjects, its easy to read a textbook and respond to any question, but English is so much of a guessing game. I'm more than willing to put in the hard work to improve, it's just frustrating not knowing where to put the hard work.
Yeah agreed I had no idea how to get higher marks in English without tutoring so I just tried editing my quotes that I had after each trial (we had 3 trials) but my marks didn't change heaps, they just stayed around the same. Maybe it would've been better with better language since the 95+ mark people seemed to have nice sounding essays but English is just so hard to improve in compared to other subjects since it's so vague. Also still not sure why it's compulsory, probably the most useless subject out of every one that I did.
 

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