In case the capital letters didn’t scare you enough I will repeat it just so you can gauge the severity of this warning—do not pre prepare your essays. Unless you genuinely want to fail HSC English there is no excuse for going into your English exams with one memorised essay for each unit you have studied. Everyone wants a simple solution for writing band six essays that will be easier to learn than an entire year’s worth of work, but like everything in life, nothing good will ever come of taking the easiest route.

Students in years prior to the 2009 HSC may have got lucky, and their memorised essays may have been enough for them to pass, but unfortunately for students in the era of the new syllabus, the same tricks do not work. Every year, the board of studies publishes markers comments and other documents in which they give feedback about the quality of students’ responses from the previous year, and the most common comment is that markers know when they are reading a pre prepared response and punish students for attempting this. It is very easy to tell an essay that actually answers the question from one that is a generic essay about the topic that may just refer to the question in the introduction or conclusion.

The post 2009 HSC English course is designed to stump students who try to pre prepare responses. The board of studies is determined to fight back at criticisms that the HSC is simply a memory test and students that rote learn and churn out content can get better marks than students that actually learn and understand the content. They want you to realise that the course is so broad that there’s no chance your one memorised essay will answer the question sufficiently so there’s no point trying. You only have to look at the uproar caused by the 2009 paper one essay question for evidence of this. For the first time, this question asked students to refer to ONE instead of TWO related texts, and so students that had memorised essays were forced to adapt or were penalised for not writing in enough detail about their one text. The lesson from this is simple; the board of studies is out to get students who memorise essays, so just don’t do it. Ever.

Luckily for you lazy students out there, you will have this guide that should help you to write good essays from scratch that will get you decent marks in your HSC!