Band 6 Essay Belonging To Us
How Achievable Is A Band 6 in English Advanced?
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Our first lesson with new students at Delta begins by asking them of their goals in English. By far the most common response is “to get a Band 6”.
Let’s take a step back and consider the process of mark calculation as a whole. Many students struggle to understand mark calculation, so their natural inclination is to go full throttle and aim for full marks in every assessment. Although this is the standard we aim for each student to achieve, it’s certainly not the most efficient strategy, often driving students to the point of burnout or breakdown. It’s very much a smart play to prioritise certain sections over others, as you’ll read further below.
What if I told you that you don’t need to get A-range marks across all your English assessments to get a Band 6? It’s completely possible. So the short answer to the title of this article’s question is: very.
The popular adage ‘study smarter, not harder’ exists to preserve the life and sanity for us all, but what this actually entails escapes the minds of many. And how do you study smart in English, a subject so seemingly subjective and unpredictable?
Firstly, dispel those assumptions and focus on honing your understanding of the complicated process of mark calculation — an awareness that will certainly carry over to your other HSC units.
Let’s get into answering the question that is undoubtedly on many of your minds: how are our HSC marks calculated and how can we go about maximising them? We need to understand the answer to this question first before we go into answering the next: how can we achieve a Band 6 in English?
When you receive your HSC results in December, you will see three columns: Assessment Mark, Examination Mark and HSC Mark. This is because the Board of Studies calculates the average of two elements (both equal to 50%) to find your final HSC Mark, and they are your:
- HSC Examination Mark: This mark reflects your actual performance in the final HSC exam
- Moderated Assessment Mark: This mark is based on the internal assessment tasks you have completed at school over the course of the year, of which your teacher submits to the Board of Studies after the trial exams. However, the Board has to moderate these marks to ensure the fair distribution of marks. This is to prevent schools from submitting % for every single student’s internal assessment mark.
An excellent simplification to help you understand the process of moderating is as follows: your assessment mark is essentially the exam mark of the person who achieved your internal rank in the external exam. For example, if you achieved an internal rank of 7th in English, your assessment mark will be the 7th best exam mark in your cohort.
However, the above is still a simplification and the BoS uses more complex statistical methods (which involve fitting a parabolic curve through the distribution of marks) that take into account the following:
- The rank of each student
- The gap between each rank (how much better a student is than the student below them)
Ultimately, you want to make sure that you minimise the mark range and maximise the average of your school cohort.
Now what about your own performance?
Your final HSC mark (e.g. a ‘90’ for a Band 6 in English Advanced) isn’t the actual raw mark that you achieved in the exam. Getting a 90 in English essentially means that you performed in the top % of the state (UAC Scaling Guide, ). Then what is the raw mark required to actually get a Band 6?
Generally speaking, a raw exam mark of 80–85/ will usually align to a Band 6 in English Advanced, though that depends based on the strength of the NSW cohort. This means that % of the state achieved a mark over 80–85/, resulting in a final aligned HSC mark of Let’s stick with a raw mark of 85/ as our target for a Band 6.
The HSC English Advanced Exam is made up of marks that are split into two papers and six sections.
Paper 1 is made up of three sections, each worth 15 marks.
Section I is Comprehension, wherein you confront a set questions designed to test your comprehension of unseen texts. This section tests concrete skills that are easy and fast to acquire. It is not unfair to say that full marks will come with consistent practice. So: 15/15 for Section I.
Section II is Creative Writing. Suppose you prepared a solid creative, but in the exam you come across particular difficulty incorporating the stimulus into your response. Nonetheless, you pull through with a B-range mark of 12/
Section III is an Extended Response. Now you’re pretty experienced with essay writing after preparing (at least) three essays for each of the Modules in Paper 2. But still, accounting for a less-than-desirable question, you get 13/
Your total for Paper 1 clocks in at 40/ Let’s keep in mind our goal of 85/ for a Band 6. With 40 marks collected in Paper 1, that leaves us 45 marks to go. We need to get a total of at least 45 marks in Paper 2 to get a Band 6.
Over three essays, 45 marks works out to be 15/20 per essay. That means you can get a mid-B-range mark for every single one of your Module responses and still achieve a Band 6 so long as you perform strongly in Paper 1. Paper 1 therefore is an excellent place to focus your revision.
While Paper 1 is certainly less demanding than Paper 2 — as it is shared with English Standard students — you must not give in to the temptation to ignore the former as easier. Do well in Paper 1 and you will do well in English.
Of course, work to maximise your marks across both Papers — but know that a Band 6 isn’t always getting three A-range essays!
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A person belongs wherever he or she chooses. Discuss with relation to the texts that you have studied, and at least 1 supplementary text.
Our idea of belonging and affinity is a result of the choices that we make. We feel a sense of acceptance wherever we choose to belong. This is explored in Peter Skrzynecki’s poems Feliks Skrzynecki and 10 Mary St, through the poet’s depiction of the relationship between his father and himself. SUPPLEMENTARY TEXTS…
It is only through our own personal choice that we choose to belong, or in some cases, not belong.
Skrzynecki’s poem Feliks Skrzynecki explores the concept of belonging, highlighting that man has the choice to include himself in a community, or to live in isolation. Through the cultural independence of his father, the poet underlines man’s choice in whether he belongs or not. The garden, “loved like an only child”, is a symbol for Poland, the homeland of the persona’s father. His powerful, almost familial affinity with his homeland underlines his choice to not accept Australian culture, but instead to seek solace in his own world. This attachment, as the audience is told that the poet’s father has “swept its [the garden’s] paths ten times around the world.” Such hyperbole emphasizes Feliks’ strong connection with his garden: it is the only place in his world in which he truly belongs. Feliks is juxtaposed with his son, who begins to lose touch with his father’s culture. The persona, while “stumbling over tenses in Caesar’s Gallic War…forgot his first Polish word”. The Polish language is a motif for his belonging in his father’s world: the persona has begun to lose touch with his culture, and has chosen to belong in Australian culture. He is moving “further and further south of Hadrian’s Wall”, a historical allusion which is symbolic of the cultural barrier between the persona and his father. The further the persona immerses himself in Australian culture, the more disasscosciated he is from his father, and his father’s Polish culture. Feliks Skrzynekci portrays its two personas and their respective choices to belong in their respective worlds.
10 Mary Street provides its readers with insight into the concept of familial bonds, and our instinctive choice to belong in the home. Through the simile “I’d ravage the backyard garden like a hungry bird…” Skrzynecki compares himself to a fledgling bird safe in the security of his nest. Another simile, “rows of sweet corn: tended roses and camellias, loved like adopted children.” Hyperbolically emphasizes the strong connection felt by his parents; a sense of their strong belonging to their 10 Mary Street residence. Their home is the site of numerous “heated discussions and embracing gestures”, a testament to the liveliness and friendliness present in the house. Furthermore the cumulative listing of ‘kielbasa’, ‘salt herrings…rye bread… raw vodka and cherry brandy’ conveys a sense of cultural heritage present within the house. The address becomes an extrapolation of the lives that his parents were displaced from in Poland. The home is a reflection of the choices made by his parents in leaving their Polish heritage. Here Skrzynecki ‘for nineteen years… lived…’ his Australian life style, while his parents ‘kept prewar Europe alive with photographs and letters.’ This juxtaposition portrays the ‘adopted’ nature of the home for his parents as a refuge, and for the persona as a ‘home’.
A particular image juxtaposes Woods with her full-blooded Chinese cousin. In the image, Vanessa is a brown haired and blue eye, while her cousin is the stereotypical image of a black haired Asian. The image emphasizes upon the sense of alienation and displacement felt by the author living with her mother’s hard-line Chinese family. The inability of the persona to belong is evident in her disgruntled, sarcastic tone throughout the article. Her use of hyperbolic metaphor “from a big house in Turramurra, we are living in a Troll cave in Kingford,” suggests the antipathy felt by the persona towards her mother’s divorce. This is further emphasized through the irony of her anecdote ‘I steal to combat our poverty.’ In which upon her arrest her mother is ‘ashamed, for failing to teach me… for failing to make me warm and safe.’ When her mother buys her the item she had stolen. The narrator feels a profound sense of regret and guilt, instead choosing not to accept the item. Despite her mother having as ‘all the sensitivity of a Japanese Scientist harpooning a whale.” The persona chooses to ‘no longer begrudge her friend’s mothers who overflow with constant affirmation.’ She uses an anecdote to convey the strong familial bonds that overshadow her inadequate childhood. Her mother can only afford five chicken wings. Yet “my sister has two… I have two… mother has one, and in this sacrifice I see love.”
Hence through dichotomy of both familial love and growing anxieties, we are able to appreciate the power of choice in forming our sense belonging.