BlogStudyHow Tom Achieved an HSC English Mark Improvement of 56%!

How Tom Achieved an HSC English Mark Improvement of 56%!

When you get a bad result in an HSC English assessment, it can feel like a total kick in the guts.

You might think stuff like: “What’s the point. I should just give up now. Nothing’s going to change.”

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

In this video, Rowan talks to Art of Smart Alumni Tom. Tom is a student who went from 15% in HSC English to 71% by the end of his HSC journey!

We’re going to find out exactly HOW Tom made this incredible HSC English mark improvement and the exact steps he took to turn his results around.

Step 1: Developing Commitment
Step 2: Taking Notes
Step 3: Using a TEE Table
Step 4: Staying Motivated
Step 5: Memorising Quotes
Step 6: Practice Responses
Step 7: Getting Your Work Checked

Let’s jump in!

About Tom

Tom graduated from Barker College in 2019. He was originally receiving HSC English marks of 15%. However, he decided to get help from Art of Smart tutor Hannah. By the end of the year, he managed to turn his results around to an impressive 71%.

Step 1: Developing Commitment

Tom highlights that to commit himself to achieve an HSC English mark improvement he had to get committed and organised in other aspects of his life as well. 

His room was a mess, his bed was never made, and all this extra mess also cluttered his headspace.

So what he did was:

  1. Cleaned his room
  2. Fixed his diet
  3. Started working out 

All of these factors contributed to his sense of commitment. As a result, he developed the ability to actually give a damn about his schoolwork!

The ability to organise his life allowed him to move on to organising his schoolwork.

So how did Tom go about his actual HSC English study?

Step 2: Taking Notes

At the start of Year 12, taking notes wasn’t exactly one of Tom’s big concerns.

However, when he received a mark of 15% he decided it was time to pick up his game!

Originally, he started taking notes on his laptop. However, he did some research and found that in fact hand-writing your study notes is far more effective!

He would write his notes on loose paper and then file it in a binder.

When the HSC drew closer around Term 3 Tom threw the whole binder in the bin!

This is because he dedicated his time to re-condensing these notes. This is an extremely effective method for not only organising your notes but also refreshing the content in your mind.

Step 3: Using a TEE Table

Another shift Tom made in regards to taking better notes was a shift to focusing on ANALYSIS rather than just memorising QUOTES. 

Because he had spent the first half of the year just focusing on quotes when he actually put pen to paper in an essay the end product wasn’t too great.

To improve the quality of analysis, he decided to implement a TEE table into his note-taking process.

A TEE table forces you to provide the Technique, Example and the Effect/Analysis of your evidence when taking your notes. This means you aren’t just focusing on quotes.

Find out how to use a TEE Table here!

Step 4: Staying Motivated

By Term 3 Tom’s HSC English marks were sitting at around 35%.

This was a great improvement from the start of the year, however, it still wasn’t enough.

Now at this point, it would have been super easy for Tom to just give up on his HSC altogether.

So how did he increase his motivation to get him across the finish line?

Put simply, Tom always kept in mind his END GOAL:

To finish school and be successful.

In developing this end goal he would use WEALTH TRIGGERS. For example, looking at images of his ideal house or ideal car, in turn encouraging his desire for success.

By keeping this light at the tunnel he was able to convince himself that every bit of study he completed was a step closer to that goal.

Tom’s motto was: If I can pass the HSC, I can pass life.

This mindset transferred itself into his practical approach to the HSC.

So how did he prepare leading up to exams?

Step 5: Memorising Quotes

When it came to preparing for exams and memorising stuff one of Tom’s best friends were:


He would put sticky notes in the shower, on his bathroom mirror and on the fridge. 

6 hours sitting at a desk and reading notes just didn’t work for Tom. As a result, he used sticky notes to incorporate his revision of quotes and content into everyday life!

He would colour code specific quotes by theme. For example, orange notes would be relevant to power, or red notes relevant to love.

In addition to this, sticky notes for a specific theme would only be located in a certain part of his house. This meant he was staying active and engaged while studying as he would run from area to area.

This was an extremely helpful technique for Tom when memorising before exams and you might want to implement the power of sticky notes into your own approach too!

Step 6: Practice Responses

Tom’s Art of Smart tutor Hannah encouraged him to tackle practice responses in the lead up to exams. The approach she promoted helped Tom achieve such a great HSC English mark improvement.

Rather than writing a full practice response, Tom would write one paragraph and then move on.

He would do this a few times. Starting an essay response but never finishing it.

Each time he would take into account what he was doing wrong and what he could improve.

Rather than writing a full response, he would do a singular paragraph to a variety of different questions until he was confident that he could write a full response effectively.

This process allowed him to maximise his study time and produce a final top-notch response built off TRIAL AND ERROR!

Step 7: Getting Your Work Checked

This is one of the most important steps for all students.

Tom was lucky enough to have his amazing tutor Hannah to look over his work. She was able to highlight what he was missing in his responses and recommend strategies to improve his work leading into exams. 

Whether it be your own tutor, a teacher, friend or parent, make sure to get your work looked over by someone!

Looking for some extra help with HSC English?

We have an incredible team of HSC English tutors and mentors who are new HSC syllabus experts!

We can help you ace your upcoming HSC English assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

We’ve supported over 5,000 students over the last 10 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 19%!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational HSC English tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!


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