Higher School Certificate students emerge relieved from English Paper 1

HSC success: Ashleigh Lewis and Harry Keating. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
HSC success: Ashleigh Lewis and Harry Keating. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

CARDIFF High students have emerged “relieved” from their first Higher School Certificate exam, saying their performance had given them a confidence boost to tackle their remaining subjects.

Harry Keating,18, and Ashleigh Lewis,17, were among 58,097 students across the state to sit English (Standard) and English (Advanced) Paper 1 on Thursday morning.

Students had two hours to complete the three-section paper, which was based on their area of study: discovery.

“I’m relieved,” Ashleigh said. “It was easier than I expected because I was expecting totally different questions – I feel the questions were all adaptable and the short responses were good.”

Harry, who had an 85 minute break before heading into his Music 1 exam, said he was “pretty satisfied”.

“The adrenalin was pumping so reading the questions the first time I did not really absorb it,” he said. 

“There were a few little curve balls but the teachers prepared us for the worst so no matter what the paper came up with, we’d be ready.

“It was good to break the ice – it gave me a confidence boost for the rest of them, a lot of us thought ‘we want the next one, let’s go’, because that energy was present.”

Harry said “you had to be on your toes” for the first section, which asked for short responses based on supplied texts students had not seen before. 

“You really had to know your techniques and know how to draw them out,” Ashleigh said.

The second section asked students to choose one of five provided images of landscapes and compose a piece of imaginative writing that explored the relationship between place and individual discovery.

Harry and Ashleigh had both prepared pieces set in the desert, which was one of the images provided. 

“That took quite a bit of the pressure off,” he said.

In the third section, students had to write an extended response about the extent their prescribed text – at Cardiff, this was the film Frank Hurley:The Man Who Made History – and individually chosen text had revealed emotional and intellectual responses provoked by the experience of discovering.

Students will sit English Paper 2 on Friday, which requires them to write three extended responses based on prescribed texts. 

“I know my texts really well so I feel more prepared for that one,” Ashleigh said.

Harry hopes to study business or communication and Ashleigh hopes to study biomedicine or nutrition and dietetics. 

“I’m holding on to the fact it’s nearly over,” Harry said. “If you tried this hard for the entire year you might as well finish up strong and get the rewards.”  

Ashleigh agreed and said she was “excited” about the world of opportunities outside school.


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