So, you’ve been struggling a little with English and your HSC English marks aren’t looking too great? 

Well, don’t stress! There’s still time to improve. 

In this video, David shares his story of how he improved his English result of 60% throughout the year to achieving a Band 5 in his overall HSC mark. So, it’s never too late to turn your HSC English results around with hard work and the right approach!

Let’s dive in!

Beginning Year 12
Moving Forward
Top 7 Tips to Improving Your HSC English Marks

Beginning Year 12

Beginning his studies in Year 12 English, David was enthusiastic and determined to achieve his best!

However, on receiving a 12 out of 20 for his first internal essay on Human Experience, David thought that “the world was ending.” Despite this, he shifted his focus from this setback to moving forward, progressing by preparing for Module A.  

Moving Forward 

David talks about how the best approach to improving your mark from an internal assessment is to reevaluate your current study routine and habits.

Something he didn’t do in Year 11 was actually make the effort to read each English set text – this was a habit he needed to change. So, he read all the required texts in Year 12 and even created TEE tables for the different modules.

Simple changes in routine and commitment really helped him to figure out what he needed to do when it came to exams. Let’s break down the various methods David implemented to turn his marks around!

David’s Top 7 Tips to Improving Your HSC English Marks

Tip #1: Use TEE Tables 

David used TEE tables when studying for English, which really helped when it came to essay structure during exams. TEE stands for:

  • Technique
  • Example
  • Explanation

Creating TEE tables can be really handy when writing out paragraphs for your essays!

For technique, you discuss the specific literary technique that the composer used in their work, while an example could be a quote from the text itself. The explanation is basically just the effect of this quote.

Looking at paragraphs in this way has pretty much built up the library of David’s textual knowledge, and provided him with a simple approach to writing essays. You can learn more about TEE tables here!

Tip #2: Try Tutoring 

David worked with Art of Smart tutor Rahul across his Year 12 English journey. This extra help assisted David in learning about how to use quotes and techniques in essays and also helped him learn essay hacks, such as pointing out which techniques English teachers hate to see!

Rahul and David also worked on past paper questions together, which for David further enhanced his understanding of his texts and helped him answer questions in a thorough way. 

Not sure where to find HSC English Past Papers? We’ve got a comprehensive list of them to help you prep for your exams here!

Tip #3: Watch Art of Smart TV 

Art of Smart TV helped David immensely with his English study. David points out that he learnt how to construct TEE tables through the YouTube channel, ultimately being an aid to improving his HSC English marks. 

You can check out our free HSC videos on Art of Smart TV here!

Tip #4: Don’t Memorise! 

Memorising English essays is definitely not a mistake you’d want to make and David’s definitely learnt that with the new syllabus, which is designed to prevent students from regurgitating their previous responses.

By not memorising essays, David felt that he could link back to questions more naturally, therefore improving his overall HSC English marks. In particular, knowing his TEE tables gave him a bank of literary information he could use in his essays, giving him more room to sufficiently answer the question without a ready-made essay response. 

Tip #5: Try Practice Questions & Use Scaffolding 

David found the best way to improve his marks was to complete practice questions using his TEE tables. However, he wouldn’t advise writing an entire essay every time.

Rather, David would write a thesis statement and topic sentences that directly answered the question for his study. Also, David would write up a set essay in 40 minutes using his TEE table once every week, then got his tutor Rahul to give him feedback.

All of this study was completed throughout the year, ensuring David did not cram! 

Tip #6: Expose Yourself to as Many Questions as Possible

One of David’s biggest tips is to write as many thesis statements and topic sentences to different questions as you can. This not only helped David feel prepared, but gave him the confidence to include his personal voice within his essays.

David sourced these questions from NESA, particularly past papers and ones from his English teacher. He also re-wrote responses to questions he had previously completed, ensuring he had a better understanding of his English texts.  

Tip #7: Keep Going!

David talks about not giving up in HSC English just because of one bad assessment mark. The HSC is “about who has the most resilience… It’s not over until you think it’s actually over, which is at the end of Paper Two HSC. So just keep pushing. That’s my biggest advice.”

So, keep going, keep practicing those past questions, and remember, there are a number of Art of Smart resources you can use to help you get through HSC English! 

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!


Grace Mitchell hopes to one day stand in front of a Year 12 Modern History class teaching the history of the Soviet Union, or have an insightful discussion with a Year 10 English class on race relations in To Kill a Mockingbird. Either way, Grace is beginning her teaching journey studying a Bachelor of Education (Secondary: Humanities and Social Sciences)/Bachelor of Arts at Sydney University. Grace loves to learn new things, write short stories and opinion pieces, read, and play contemporary Australian compositions on the clarinet. When she is not learning – if that is possible – Grace loves to sit and watch the sun set.