Short answer responses are undoubtedly a major part of any HSC Ancient History assessment task or exam.
While longer questions such as essay questions are the ones which are worth the bulk of the marks, nailing short answers will go a long way to you gaining that extra few marks and achieving that elusive Band 6 for HSC Ancient History.
In this article, I’ll thoroughly explain to you the process of breaking apart a question and analysing it thoroughly to ensure you write a top-notch response.
So let’s jump straight into it!
Step 1: Pay Close Attention to the Key Verb
This is something that is criminally overlooked by many HSC Ancient History students. It’s natural to skim-read a question when under exam pressure, but by doing so you’re placing yourself at a massive disadvantage.
The key verb provides you with valuable information on how to answer a question. It tells you in what form you structure the response and how detailed the response should be.
Key verbs are the words at the very fore-front of the question. Examples of common ones found in HSC Ancient History are:
- You must analyse thoroughly and put in a fair amount of detail into the answer
- Be as thorough as you can
- You must simply state
- No explanation or detail needed for identify questions
- Requires a detailed response but more importantly, you must make a judgement at the end of it
- If you do not, you’ll lose marks as the question isn’t answered
- You must analyse both sides of an argument and highlight the similarities and differences
- A table is a great way to answer compare questions
- You must go through the main features and characteristics of a particular thing
- Often used in questions where there are ancient buildings or artefacts involved
- Since there are many buildings and artefacts in the course, you’ll see this key verb a lot!
So as you can see, the key verbs are all uniquely different and actually provide you with great information on how to answer a question before you even get started.
Ignoring key verbs is one of the most common mistakes made by HSC Ancient History students.
You will lose marks if you do not abide by what the verb requires. Fortunately, it’s also one of those mistakes that’s easily fixable.
Just pay close attention to them and highlight them immediately.
Step 2: Use of Given Sources in the Response
Sources are to HSC Ancient History what techniques are to English. The use of sources is absolutely vital in HSC Ancient History and they must be highlighted and used effectively.
You must ensure that you extensively use the source specified by the question. No matter how knowledgeable you might be on the topic, never make the mistake of neglecting the given source.
For example, consider the following question from the core topic of the HSC Course:
“Outline the purposes of public buildings in Pompeii. Refer to Source C and your own knowledge of specific buildings.”
As you can see, the question specifically states that you must refer to Source C. This is independent from your “own knowledge”, which could include other sources.
There is also a specific way to introduce the given source.
Introduce the given source first and foremost. Also provide a description of what is actually in source C. An example of the above statement is this “…as shown by Source C. Source C shows an image of the public building in Pompeii known as …..”.
By specifically naming and providing a description of the given source, you’ve ensured that the requirement of the question is fulfilled and that you’ve extracted as much information as possible from the given source.
Using the given source(s) effectively is vital to getting full marks in an HSC Ancient History response.
Of course, you’re free to add in any other source from your own knowledge that you deem necessary. Which leads us into the next step…
Step 3: Use Your Own Knowledge
As stated, you must pay attention and give respect to the given sources. They’re there for a reason and must be analysed as much as possible.
For questions that require you to also use your own knowledge, use any other source(s) that you think will contribute to the response and add in relevant historical facts and/or information.
Note that not all questions require you to use your own knowledge. Some questions purely just need you to answer using just the given source.
Here’s a quick summary:
Following these 3 tips will ensure that your short answer responses are of the highest quality.
1. Pay very close attention to the key verb. Learn the definition of the common ones.
2. Respect the given sources. Name, describe and extract as much information from them as possible.
3. Have a firm grasp of the content. Using your own knowledge means referring to relevant historical facts and sources.
Looking for extra help with HSC Ancient History?
We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC Ancient History coaches and mentors!
We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!
Aditya Krishnaswamy sometimes found writing in the HSC tiresome, but is very fond of it nonetheless. Completing the HSC in 2015, he found that his experiences studying HSC Advanced Maths and English, Physics, Chemistry and Ancient History were begging to be shared with keen school-goers with the hunger for success. About to study Advanced Engineering at the University of Sydney, Adi hopes his time tutoring in two organisations as well as his time studying in 3 different countries across 2 continents in his 19 years of life can help you get through the pressurised odyssey that is the HSC. A lifelong follower of numerous sports (namely cricket, American football and rugby league), he might even be able to educate the sporty side of you!