Best ways to improve your marks in Advanced English

As English is compulsory for every student in the state who wants an ATAR, it’s fair to say that it is a highly important subject. For those selecting the advanced English course in years 11 and 12, it is likely that it is a subject you enjoy (even just a little bit), rather than just the choice necessary to attain an ATAR. Enjoying the subject you are studying can significantly assist in making study easy and efficient. In this post I will discuss the most effective study techniques you can employ in your senior Advanced English course which will assist you in achieving your desired ATAR.


  1. Read the rubric and USE IT

The rubric, although not structured as simplistically as a more content heavy subject such as biology, should be used just as religiously. Reading and critically evaluating the rubric specific to the module you are studying will allow you to further grasp the profound concepts and ideas which characterise each distinctive module. Understanding exactly what the module is about may seem self explanatory, however, there are nuances within each rubric which enable you to access new avenues to interpret and explore each module. For example, module A may initially seem like a simple comparison between two texts, however, via the rubric it is evident that NESA requires a comparison of not only the text itself but also the context in which they were constructed and how such contextual disparities may influence each text. Please note that the English Rubric should NOT be used in the same way other rubrics are used such as dot points. The rubric is a holistic delineation of the course requirements with every point linking to the next. The rubric is most effectively studied from when analysed as a whole. Some ways of doing this could include summarising the rubric in a paragraph, making key notes on each aspect, highlighting the most integral sentences and constructing practise questions which involve every dimension of the rubric and formulating responses to these questions

  • Work hard from the beginning 

This may seem obvious, however, putting hard work into your assignments at the beginning of the year will help you in the future when you are studying for your HSC examination. This is because the assignments will be structured according to each module, allowing you to

  1. Gain a greater understanding of each module and its specific requirements 
  2. Allow you to assess your performance in each module 
  3. Provide you with a refined, edited and marked piece of writing for each module which can later be manipulated to form a generic* response which you can use in your HSC exam.


*generic: a basic piece of writing, which does not address (or loosely addresses) a question and can thus be tailored to any question in the HSC (if done correctly) 


  1. Read widely and regularly 

As tedious and boring as it may seem to some students, reading is the most effective tool you can use to improve your own writing skills. It is for this reason that NESA established the “Reading to Write” module in year 11 whereby students learn to closely analyse the works of composers whose style and voice in writing is considered to be of high calibre and thus form their own, distinct authorial expression. The act of reading, whether conscious or not, strengthens your writing significantly. Don’t just stick to your assigned texts in class. There are an endless amount of texts across a range of mediums (poetry, novel etc…) which you can explore. This is an opportunity to delve into your interests and discover the literary mediums and genres which engage you. Reading can easily become an enjoyable and exciting activity which is perfect when you can consider it study as well.


Ultimately, the English Advanced course isn’t designed to be easy. There is no loophole or simple route to achieving top marks. However, using the above tips as well as establishing your own, personal study methods will drastically improve your performance. Seeking help can also be of vital importance. If you feel as though you would benefit from an English tutor, I highly recommend joining First Choice Tutoring. Regardless of your skill level or confidence in English, a tutor can guide you through the confusing and challenging aspects of the HSC and assist in your academic success.

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