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What you need to know about HSC English in Year 12

By Simon Hennessy on 6 February 2020NSWblogHSCEnglishSubject advice

With plenty of changes to the English syllabus in recent years, it’s only natural that questions are being asked by students over what exactly they can expect from the subject in Year 12. As a result, we’ve decided to put together a comprehensive guide including the key info you need to know about what awaits in your English Standard HSC.

Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

The HSC covers four modules, and the first of these is the common module, “Texts and Human Experiences.” This module asks students to respond to texts which convey the full range of human experiences. This module is ‘common’ because everyone that is studying Standard English in NSW does the same topic and answers the same questions in the HSC exam.

For this module, you’ll study a prescribed text and a related text, which should not be presented in the same medium (e.g. if one’s a novel, the other should be a film or poem). You can find the list of prescribed texts here (on page 10 and 11), and as for related texts, check out our post on potential related text options.

You’ll have three assessments on the Common Module. The first will happen during term time and will likely be an oral or creative task. Assessments two and three will appear in your HSC trial and HSC exams in Paper One. Section One will involve analysis and response to unseen texts, while Section Two will be an essay question on your prescribed text.

Module A: Language, Identity and Culture

Module A is concerned with examining how language shapes our sense of identity and culture. This examination is done through the study of one prescribed text (the options found here on page 12), as well as through material that shines a lot on textual conventions and language structures and features.

Only 3 modules will have in-school assessments attached, so you may have an assessment that can take one of several forms (essay, multimodal presentation, an imaginative recreation, or a combination of the above). Either way, you will be set an essay question in Paper 2 of the HSC Trial exam for this module.

Module B: Close Study of Literature

This one is just what it sounds like; students closely studying a prescribed text, developing responses to the ideas and writing characteristics in the text. The prescribed text list can be found here on page 14.

In terms of assessment, the same set of circumstances applies as it did to Module A – you may have an in-school assessment in one of the mentioned formats, or you may not. You will have an essay question to tackle in Module B for the HSC Trial Exam and the HSC, which is likely to be very specific to the text you studied.

Module C: The Craft of Writing

Module C is all about improving your writing skills and process through the analysis of other writers. You will be expected to draw on your own wider reading, but will have to cover two short prescribed texts, found here on page 15.

In terms of assessment, you may (same as Module A and B) face an internal assessment focusing on Module C in one of the above-mentioned forms. However, there’s a chance you will have a portion of marks for an assignment on a different module go towards assessing your “craft of writing,” - i.e. your Module C.

In the trial exam and the HSC, you are likely to be asked to complete two tasks. The first will be a creative piece, and the second will be a reflective essay explaining the creative choices you made and linking them to influences from your studied texts.


All of the above! Or at least keep this guide handy for when you are structuring your approach to English study for the year ahead; it’s pretty key to know exactly what you’re preparing for. Good luck!

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