How Hamish Finally Tackled Creative Writing and Got a Band 6 in HSC English

🏆 Band 6 HSC English Result

Hamish went from Band 4 results in Year 11 to a Band 6 HSC result after turning his marks around by 20%. 

🎯 Learned to Target Assessment Criteria

Hamish’s practise with directive terms and exemplar responses helped him answer questions with accuracy. 

🙌 95.55 ATAR

By lifting his English marks, Hamish was able to smash the 95+ ATAR goal he had set at the beginning of the year! 

Orange curve
Yellow curve

The Challenge

At the end of Year 11, Hamish wasn’t confident that he could get the 95+ ATAR he wanted if he stuck with English Advanced. He was getting Band 4 results and had no clue how to crack the Band 6 wall despite all of the time he was putting into the subject. Even though Hamish knew how to make use of sophisticated language and ideas, he wasn’t getting to the core of what his assessments were asking of him and wasn’t critically engaging with his texts.


After reaching out to his teacher for support, he decided to try the first term of Year 12 before making the choice to drop. Hamish got in touch with Art of Smart to make sure that his hard work was going in the right direction. 

I think I walked in with that perception of English as just one of those subjects that’s so complex, it’s abstract, it’s its own sort of breed of a subject. I used to get caught in that. When I started doing the assessments, I never focused on the actual task.

Key Problems

💭 Hamish was willing to put in the hard work to improve, but didn’t know where to start 

🧭 Hamish didn’t understand how to meet the criteria for his assessments 

🤯 Hamish wasn’t a fan of creative writing and didn’t know how to approach Module C 

Our Approach

Hamish started working with Senior Art of Smart Coach Agapi in weekly sessions to get clarity on assessment criteria. By looking at exemplar responses and learning directive terms, Hamish was able to identify what he was doing wrong. Agapi set practise writing tasks and provided consistent feedback so that Hamish could improve.

Even though he felt uncomfortable with creative writing, Agapi encouraged Hamish to engage with Module C by explaining the structure behind persuasive, discursive, and imaginative writing. Agapi also helped Hamish create a library of themes, ideas, and examples to use for his assessments. In the lead up to his final exam, they scaffolded responses to many different questions that critically engaged with Hamish’s texts.


  • Responding to the question
  • Critical analysis of texts 
  • Tackling creative writing 
  • Preparing for timed essays 


  • Learning directive terms
  • Library of ideas and examples
  • Feedback loop 
  • Scaffolding essay structure

Learning Directive Terms

Library of Ideas and Examples

Feedback Loop

Scaffolding Essay Structure

The Result

After a year of hard work with Agapi, Hamish lifted his marks to a Band 5, and finally a Band 6 result for the HSC exam!

He was able to achieve an incredible 95.55 ATAR, meeting the goal he had set at the beginning of the year! Hamish has gone on to study Law and Criminology at UNSW. 

Band 6

Final HSC English result


Score for first Year 12 assessment 


Rating of how their teacher has improved student understanding and skills


Rating by customers on how likely they would be to recommend Art of Smart to a friend! 

With Art of Smart, Hamish saw a 20% improvement in HSC English Advanced 

I think I wanted to level up because I was getting that progress but I wanted extra guidance, someone I can work one-on-one with who can actually support me because although I had clarity on that task, there were still things I struggled with.

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