HSC English Blog – Standard and Advanced English

We know at The Thinking Cap Tutoring Centre how much students struggle with English, particularly in the years leading up to their HSC. Both standard and advanced English seems to be a universally tricky subject for all students across all schools.  However, we are here to help!

Standard English VS Advanced English

Studying at least two units of English in Year 11 and 12 is compulsory as declared by NESA. Hence, choosing between Advanced and Standard English is an important choice that must be well informed.

Standard and Advanced English

So what is the difference between Advanced and Standard English?

Standard and Advanced English have different scalings for the HSC and ATAR, where Advanced English scales higher. It is more ‘critical’ in its analysis and writing compared to Standard English. The most significant differentiator between the subjects is the difficulty and complexity of texts, analysis of texts, their meaning and language used. 

The texts studied in Standard English are more direct in their understanding and analysis, whereas Advanced English texts require a more profound analysis as it deals with more complex ideas. 

Which English course do I choose?

It is a crucial decision to make as it can significantly impact your ATAR and admission to University. When choosing between Standard and Advanced, you must consider a few points: 

  • Prerequisites for university – does the course you wish to study at university require you to have completed Advanced English? 
  • How in-depth is your understanding of literary texts? Can you analyse a text for a deeper understanding and meaning or just for its face value? 
  • How much time can you invest in studying for English? – Are you able to allocate enough time and expend a significant amount of effort to study for Advanced English and construct essays? If not, then Standard English may be a better option.

What does each course entail? Are there any similarities in content?

A comparison between the courses is evident below:

Standard English

Advanced English


Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

Students study the same content in both courses, with the only difference being the difficulty of the questions asked in Paper 1, Section 1 - Unseen texts.

Module A: Language, Identity and Culture

Module A: Textual Conversations

Standard English explores how the language used in a text represents identity, whereas, Advanced English is a comparative study of two texts.

Module B: Close Study of Literature

Module B: Critical Study of Literature

Standard English is a close study, whereas Advanced is rather critical and delves into a deeper understanding of contemporary society’s text and relevance.

Module C: Craft of Writing

Module C: Craft of Writing

Students study the same content in both courses, where students are required to respond creatively and reflect upon other texts and their writing.

Transitioning from Junior to Senior English

A common question students ask tutors is “what is the difference between Junior English (7-10) and Senior English (11-12)?”

Each year, the difficulty of English increases, and students explore more difficult texts by analysing how techniques lend greater meaning. In transitioning from year 10 English to senior English, students learn how to respond analytically and critically to their prescribed texts. There was a greater emphasis on understanding the text for its plot, characters, and themes in their junior years. Senior English focuses on the themes, values, context and relevance to contemporary society.

Study Tips to Ace Senior English

As mentioned before, English is a vital subject but seems rather daunting and challenging when it comes to studying. Students tend to become rather demotivated and minimise the effort they put into studying for the subject. 

Here are the best tips to consider to ace your English Exams. 

  • Study often and create a study timetable. 

Students are often examined first in English before their other subjects; thus, they should memorise their content and quotes well ahead of time.

Regularly studying for English will help students guarantee that they have memorised all the required content and make room for answering practice questions and past papers. A practical and detailed study timetable will prove to be your greatest asset when studying. 

  • Breaking down and Memorising your Syllabus

To effectively and accurately answer the exam questions, you must have a full understanding of the syllabus and its rubric statements. Break down each rubric into statements with each term defined and understood concerning the module. 

Ultimately, examiners opt for creating exam questions that have a direct link to the rubric. Thence, they must be memorised to ace and achieve the highest possible marks for each question. 

At The Thinking Cap, we emphasise on memorising and understanding the syllabus to optimise results across all subjects.

  • Understand your text for its values and themes. 

It is essential to understand the difference between a theme and value and identify them in each of your prescribed texts as they practically set up, to a certain extent, how you answer essay questions. 

  • Use Graphic Organisers or PEEL/QTE/TEE Tables 

Graphic organisers and tables are a neat way to memorise quotes as they set up the analysis of quotes that can be used and applied to essays. They minimise the amount of content that needs to be memorised and helps you walk into your exams feeling more prepared and confident as you can answer the questions with ease.


Practise makes perfect! Continuously and consistently answer past paper and practice questions to build up your confidence and familiarity with exam-style questions.  Break down the question, and understand what each part asks to ensure that your response successfully answers the question.

Resources That Are Good To Refer To When Studying For English

When studying for English and organising quotes and notes, it is vital that you feel like you have enough information to answer questions. Sometimes the information provided by your school is not enough. Hence, the perfect points of reference and resources include: 

  • School Notes. Although this may seem to be rather obvious, students forget that their notes and analysis from school are useful and a perfect start for studying. Students rely on external sources before they rely on their school notes, which should not be the case.
  • Art of Smart – they provide information on how to answer questions across all modules with crucial points to include in your essays that will guarantee top marks. 
  • Matrix Education – provide a detailed analysis of the module and break down the syllabus into statements that are easy to understand and answer.

Problems Student Face when Studying English

As English is deemed rather difficult in students’ eyes, they face many issues when studying and learning the content. 

Some of these issues entail:

  • Writing essays. 
  • Answering short answer questions 
  • Understanding content explored in the rubric.
  • Analysis of text for techniques, themes, values and context. 

If any students struggle with the above issues, The Thinking Cap Tutoring Centre is a perfect place to refine and build on these skills. The centre has various resources and tutors that can help students improve their marks by catering to their needs through Standard or Advanced English classes or One-on-One tutoring.

Share This

Related Posts