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Published by 99ATAR Tutoring ©2017

What makes a band 6 essay..........................................................2
Essay structure. (how to answer essay
Exemplar essay............................................................................................................7
Past HSC questions.............................................................................................12

What makes a band 6 creative..................................................13

How to approach creative stimuli..............................................15
Exemplar creative....................................................................................................16
Creative stimuli...........................................................................................................22

Study tips..............................................................................................................................23

What Makes a Band 6 Essay

1. Strong and clear introduction

Your thesis statement should come off as clear and strong
with the introduction not too long (so around 3-4 sentence
is enough). Make sure that your introduction clearly
addresses the question.

2. Clear structure
Clear structure- each paragraph makes sense and has a
Topic sentences link back to the question and are clear

Strong textual analysis - each sentence includes a quote,

technique and analysis
Textual analysis is detailed and ‘builds onto each other’ 
Not repetitive- don't have sentences that try to say the
same thing in different ways
Every paragraph is a strong argument linking back to the
Every paragraph has a theme/argument 
Short clear conclusion
The essay makes sense as a whole (do all topic sentences
connect to each other and make sense?)t

Essay Structure- Pt 1. Introduction

1. Thesis- addresses all the key components of the question

Tip: revise the rubric and see if you can try to modify parts
of it into questions for which you can write a thesis.

Example: How does a sense of belonging shape identity?

Thesis: An individual’s identity undoubtedly reflects the
impact of one’s dynamic pathway of a sense of belonging. 

2. Introducing the text- include title, composer and date of

Tip: when introducing the text, remember to incorporate a
sentence on how this text is going to reinforce your thesis

3. Lines of argument- overview of the 2 lines of argument

which will be explored within each text
Tip: both your core and related texts should be fairly similar
in terms of the issues explored and a comparison should
be made between each text in the context of the issue

Word count: 100-150

Essay Structure- Pt 2. Body Paragraph

1. Topic sentence- rephrasing your line of argument into a

specific statement focusing on the text + link back to the
Tip: it is common for students to go on a tangent with
their paragraphs, so having constant links back to the

2. Context- background of the text including the values

which defines that genre or era e.g. Cold War, dystopian
Tip: top essays are always well-researched and
demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the values
which are addressed within your paragraphs

3. Evidence- 3-4 "pieces" of evidence are required per

paragraph depending on whether it's a standard or
comparative essay

 Tip: QUOTE + TECHNIQUES + ANALYSIS (1 sentence) +

EXTRA ANALYSIS (1-2 sentences)

QUOTE: these should be under 10 words and don't be afraid

to cut it down to the main parts and use "...." to replace the
useless parts of the quote

TECHNIQUE: let's break this down into MACRO and MICRO
Macro- these are your structural techniques which are
consistently addressed across the text i.e. characterisation,
motifs, soliloquies., etc.
iMicro- these are your language techniques i.e. similes,
metaphors, parallelism, etc. Each quote should have around
2-3 techniques to strengthen your evidence

Tip: when writing out your paragraphs, address the macro

techniques FIRST before going onto talk about micro

ANALYSIS: this part analyses the relevance of your

quote/structural technique to your thesis. Your analysis
should revolve around your topic sentence and ALWAYS
link back to the thesis at the end of your analysis

4. Synthesis (only relevant when writing comparative

essays)- compare/contrast text A with text B, but keep in
mind that text B is only formally introduced in your 2nd

Tip: synthesis should be applied at the END of the 1st body

paragraph and at the BEGINNING of the 2nd body

Word count: 200-250 per paragraph

Essay Structure- Pt 3. Conclusion

Remember what we did in the introduction? Well it's

basically a SUMMARY of everything you've written in your

Tip: your conclusion shouldn't be too long especially if you're

running out of time however it is important that you have
one otherwise your essay will seem incomplete. In the last
5mins of your essay, finish writing the last sentence of
your body paragraph and then summarise the essay in 50

Word count: 50-70

Exemplar Essay

An individual’s identity undoubtedly reflects the impact of

one’s dynamic pathway of a sense of belonging. Arthur
Miller’s play "The Crucible" (1953), Florian Henckel’s film "The
Lives of Others" (2006) and David Malouf’s novel
"Remembering Babylon" (1993), all display a plethora of
views on the influence of acceptance. While the play
illustrates that belonging may be an inevitable choice
between the assimilation or alienation, the film shows the
complexities of belonging may abolish choices, leading to a
detrimental shaping of personal identity. However, it is the
play and the novel’s focus on empowered characters forging
their own pathways to personal acceptance that leads to
an elucidation of one’s identity. In all texts, a true sense of
belonging, whether to oneself or to a group, is innate, and
undoubtedly profound when discovered by the individual.

The Crucible highlights the vulnerability of the individual

against the power of coercion in society. Miller proposes
that his four act play revolves around the “tragedy of the
common man” where the 1962 setting of Puritan
accusations serve as a parable for the 1950’s America’s
frenzied “McCarthyism”. In Salem, the theocratic society
drives characters to choose between binary oppositions, “a
person is either with this court or he must be counted
against it, there is no road between”.

This presents an ironic situation whereby following
community values forces characters to comply with
irrationality, yet dissociating is seen as an attack on the
court, but allows for the preservation of the individual’s
moral integrity.

The Crucible criticises the effect of assimilating with

corrupt community values in order to obtain a superficial
notion of belonging by sacrificing one’s unique identity. In
order to critically analyse conflict within character relations,
Miller employs patois and archaic language for distancing
the responder from the events and contexts. He introduces
Abigail, an orphan of law social status, who is intent on
employing mass hysteria to attain respect, power and
status. In Act One, she manipulates the uncertainty raised
in Parris’s house, effectively projecting an illusion of
honesty through the unification of her group, as repetitive
histrionics of “I saw Goody…with the devil!” achieve dramatic
verisimilitude hrough their cohesiveness, displaying her
innate desire to belong overrides moral responsibility.
Despite achieving acceptance by the court through the
power of the collective, ironically in the end, Abigail chooses
to disassociate herself from Salem. Through this, Miller
demonstrates that while a desire to belong can be intrinsic,
achieving acceptance through dishonest means is
ultimately deplorable and unfulfilling to the individual. 

While identity is inextricable linked to societal values

adhered to by the individual, Henkel’s film The Lives of
Others shows the strength of collective ideals may override
the individual’s choice of personal identity.

The opening scene of the film’s cinematographic dark
lighting and close-up shot of the Berlin Wall reflects the
tyrannical nature of the communist party in East Germany
1982 where, similarly to the theocratic Salem, external
pressures frames the individual’s identity. The protagonist
Wiesler, a GDR spy, is forced to interrogate and convict
innocent civilians as a means to empowering the Stasi.
However when Wiesler tries to exclude himself from the
corrupt system, he too becomes targeted and criminally
sentenced. Thus, the responder is positioned to criticise and
re-evaluate the hypocrisy present in relation to the pursuit
of acceptance at the cost of discarding one’s identity. This
notion is universally appealed in the Crucible which Miller
uses to criticise the paradoxical McCarthyist policies (and
the nature of democracy) where individual’s identities are
forcefully relinquished and their loyalty to the state is
procured by coercion rather than free-will.

Arthur Miller’s play ascertains that while convoluted and

complex, choosing to deviate from societal norms offers the
most beneficial impact on an individual’s identity. John
Proctor is entrenched in a self-motivated journey that
constantly examines his identity and integrity. His nobility
and honesty contrasts his moral reasoning against the
mass hysteria raised in the court, and it is his adherence to
these values that display their potency in his decisions. He
places great emphasis on the value on one’s name, believing
his greatest possession in life is the respectability of his
own, “How may I live without my name!’ whereby his ‘name’
metaphorically alludes to his identity. 

His choice to disassociate himself from the court ultimately
leads to his death; however, Elizabeth’s dialogue of ‘he has
his goodness now’ indicates a liberating quality induced by
Proctor’s autonomous conclusion. This is emphasised in
Miller’s directions for lighting, where the beginning of Act
Four is enveloped in a small dark room as a recurrent
motif for being inside the ‘crucible’, but as tension arises to
Proctor’s death, the stage signals a ‘morning light shining
brightly’. This symbolises ascension and liberation of the
innocent victims adhering to their moral values, and shines
the harsh light of truth on the conspiracies and lies
remanent with Salem. 

Drawing parallels to The Crucible, Remembering Babylon

shows protagonist Gemmy’s divergence from attaining the
societal values of the British settlers ultimately leads to
personal fulfilment. Despite Gemmy’s efforts assimilate
himself with the settlers by adhering to the societal
customs (“covering himself with rags”), it is only through a
defiant act of withdrawing himself from the community
that he achieves self-acceptance and a true sense of
belonging. When Gemmy first becomes accepted into the
settler community, his life story was recorded on seven
pages in which metaphorically signified “the whole of who
he was” and his power and fate as held in the hands of the
society. It is when Gemmy flees the settlers however, he
defiantly retrieves those seven pages from the town major
that he gains his existential integrity and fulfilled identity,
similar to Proctor’s heroic gesture of tearing his

Both Miller and Malouf through the characterisation of the
protagonist (Gemmy, Proctor) demonstrate that the
individual’s pure sense of belonging to self ultimately allows
the character to achieve liberation from unattainable
societal values.  

All three texts suggest that personal identity is inextricably

linked to the sense of belonging forged by the individual.
While The Lives of Others heightens the detrimental effect
of societal belonging to an individual’s sense of self, the
protagonists of The Crucible and Remembering Babylon
detail an acceptance of personal values undoubtedly
contributes to an elucidation of one’s identity. 

Past HSC Questions

Q: Try practising writing an essay in 40mins for the

following questions

2017: ‘Whether motivated by need, wonder or curiosity,

discovery has the power to be transformative.’
How accurately does this statement reflect the view of
discovery explored in your prescribed text and ONE other
related text of your own choosing?

2016: To what extent do the texts you have studied

reveal both the emotional and intellectual responses
provoked by the experience of discovering?
In your response, refer to your prescribed text and ONE
other related text of your own choosing.

2015: The process of discovery involves uncovering what

is hidden and reconsidering what is known.
How is this perspective on discovery explored in your
prescribed text and ONE other related text of your own

Extra: Discoveries are often evoked by curiosity and

wonder, offering up new understandings of ourselves
and the world we live in. Discuss this statement in
relation to your prescribed text and ONE other related
text of your own choosing?

What Makes A Band 6 Creative

1. Keep it simple!

Come up with a simple and confined idea that does not

span over too long a time period. If the events actually
occurred in real life, how long would the story take to play
out? If you can, give the story a short time span like an
hour to a day. Anything more and it will require ‘section
breaks’ which is not ideal.

2. Start from anywhere

You can be inspired by a single word, or a setting might

awaken something within you. Think of settings where
conventionally, discoveries are made, and do something
different with it.
In the end you maybe haven’t ticked the box for the best
story idea, but the story is very much about discovery,
which is one of the criteria so it’s all good. The ideal
situation would be if you did something exciting with the
setting, though.

3. Avoid cliches at all cost!

You will most likely know yourself if an idea is cliché or not.

Think of something and attack it in a way that others
haven’t, or approach something with fresh, new eyes. This
can be applied to anything, not just storylines. 
Ultimately, ideas can spring out of nowhere. It’s important
to keep notes of your rambling thoughts, even if they don’t
seem too substantial to you at that stage in time.

4. Motifs are nice to reinforce your ideas

If you are struggling to come up with a good idea, perhaps

pick a motif that will run through your story and think of
different ways to incorporate it –perhaps once in the
beginning, middle and end. A motif can be almost anything
- a physical object, like a telescope, a colour, a verb, a word
that is intriguing, etc.

5. Good ideas are invaluable

The writing of the actual story can be improved much more

easily than having to find an entirely new idea.
You can’t really get by with just a great idea, and you can’t
get by with just excellent writing.  

How to Approach Creative Stimuli

There are several different ways you can adapt your story
to the stimulus:

-    Metaphorically
-    Symbolically
-    Recurring motifs
-    Quotes from the stimulus
-    Images from the creative stimulus
-    Emotional vibe of the stimulus
-    Literally
-    Colours
-    Characterisation

Remember: You can ALWAYS link a creative to a stimulus.

Exemplar Creative- GREEN LIGHT

The snowflakes lingered on the clear window forming an

illusion of patterns and dreams. Marie, every morning,
would sit by the window to watch the outside world
through the looking glass, where her imagination would
colour her life and erase solitude.
The bitter stillness of the snowstorms reflected the
tensions in East Germany as it was this year, 1952, that
the Stasi operations were infiltrating more neighbourhoods
each day.

However, Marie was not a part of any political activities or

religious groupings, it made her life simpler but also away
from society, from human interaction, from having any
particular meaning in life.

Days went by with endless thoughts of longing for the

past, of day-dreaming and silently yearning for recognition,
of acceptance, of a little love and care.
Every morning before the warm rays of sunlight
glimmered onto the neighbourhood, she would silently sit in
her floral-fabric armchair looking out of her window
searching for the green light that shone from her
neighbour’s house. The mesmerising light reminded her of
Ferdinand’s green eyes staring at her with adoration and
love, the dark green army uniform Ferdinand had wore
when he marched off to fight in the Great War, the green
barrette he had given her before leaving for the trenches.
He never returned from the battlefield; she would pass her
mundane days living alone and dreaming, with the green
barrette in her lustreless grey hair.
She would closely observe each surrounding household; it
had become a daily activity for her to forget memories,
conceal solitude and elapse the tiresome days of waiting
for nothing.

The young couple that lived across from her were the only
neighbours in the small Avenue who always recognised her
and would wave to her. Every afternoon when they came
back from work and collected their mail, that single action
sparked ripples in Marie’s heart as she smiled gratefully
back at them, waving her hand back eagerly. There was a
peculiar connection she felt with them each time she looked
through her window at their house, like an invisible thread
that linked from her heart to theirs.  

Watching the young couple was like seeing a reflection of

herself with Ferdinand. It was like time travelling back to
the past, to the long-lost years of bliss, of joy, of the days
she had been with him.  It was the young lady, living across
from her, with the innocent pristine eyes and dark
brunette curls that she related to the most. It was seeing
her through the window always knitting blankets and
scarves for her husband that made her believe again;
believe she was back in her youth where she could relive
the vivid memories lurching at the back of her mind.

Watching her made her feel she was back in time and on a
different world that wasn’t immersed in government
censorship, constant warfare and espionage.

. The young lady was another imitation of her bright years
of youth, where she was caressed by the love of her new
husband and was secure from the outside community.
Watching them and daydreaming. It was her only method
of escaping her harsh reality, where murky shadows of
truth that no one truly cared for her were buried within
her heart, entangling her in a web of desolation and

She felt so close to them at heart yet so physically distant,

like the green light that shone from their home. They were
the reminiscent ray of light that illuminated her life with
hope and faith. They made her feel like her existence was

The snowflakes whispered through the air and the winds

rustled the trees as the blizzard approached.
Around noon when everyone was at work, Marie sitting in
her usual armchair peering out the window, saw
mysterious lurching shadows appear as a black van drove
down the Avenue. It had stopped in front of the couple’s
house and five men in black suits walked out carrying
wires and technological equipment.

Everyone living in East Germany at the time knew who

they were. The Stasi. 

Marie gasped as she became frozen like the statue of

liberty, sensing the burnt wires they carried and the warm
drops of sweat trickle down her face as she watched the
black shadows open into the young couple’s empty house. 

Both of them had gone to work earlier in the morning, and
it was only Marie who would witness the operations.
Witness the betrayal of country and murderous
ruthlessness of censorship. Witness her existential
sickness and melancholy madness.

The numbing coldness began to engulf her, her frostbitten

fingertips tapped to the sound of Mozart’s “Sonata of Good
Man”. The cello, the drums, the violins came to a
decrescendo as it paralleled to the beatings of Marie’s heart.
The tapping stopped, her eyes were locked on the five men
as she slowly came to realise what they were doing.

They were wiring the house. Cameras were inserted into

the side of their walls and microphones hidden at the
corner of the entrance. Flames broke into Marie’s heart; the
intensity of her emotions caused her to mumble
incoherently “what a piece of work is a man…a quintessence
of dust? Man delights not yet to me…this is Salem…a witch-
hunt…a communist purge… where is the Jekyll within all of

Marie sat there foreseeing the truth that the young couple
would be under surveillance, under the watchful eyes of the
state, under prosecution, under an inevitable death.

The deafening sound of absolute silence daunted the

Avenue. Pellets of cold rain started to fall like shards of
glass from the sky. The chilling picks of ice had gripped
Marie’s heart. She had just taken a bite from Adam’s

.Her knowledge of what had occurred poisoned her mind,
knowing they were in peril every minute they were at
home, knowing they could be separated, the way she was
separated from her Ferdinand. It was all because of the
war, the political ideologies, the hatred between countries.
She felt herself connected to the lives of the young couple,
even if it were an illusion from behind her window. And she
didn’t want the two to take the same fate as herself, the
endless dreaming and solitude. The endless searching for
the green light.

Yet if she tried to protect them it meant risking her own


But what is the meaning of life without hope, without

acceptance, without love?

Marie contemplated, “but how would I accept myself,

keeping silent whilst watching their fate unravel like my
own?” That is the question.

The drums banged, the cellos and violins made her heart
throb uncontrollably.

She scribbled a note:

“You are under observation by the Stasi. Leave now.”

Then walked across her house, slipped it in their letterbox,

as she knew they always checked their letterbox before
entering home.. 

.The next morning there was no green light shining from
the house anymore.

She sat at her window. 

Waiting. Hoping. Dreaming

Creative Stimuli

Q: Have a go using these stimuli to practice

adapting your own story

The real voyage of

discovery consists
not in seeking new
landscapes but in
having new eyes

He who never made

a mistake never
made a discovery

Study Tips

1. Update your notes every week

Notes aren't something you can create and cram in one

week, it has to be consistently updated each week with
resources from class, critical analysis and research.
Making a habit of reviewing your notes each week will
facilitate your understanding of the text.

2. Keep rewriting your essay 

There is no such thing as the perfect essay when you

first write it so no matter what, keep resending your
essay to be remarked whether it's by your tutor or
teacher. You should be doing this AT LEAST 6-10 times.

3. Memorise vocabulary/techniques that could be useful

I suggest you quiz yourself on less common techniques

and make a vocabulary list of unknown words in your
text and continuously revise them. 

4. Practice writing under timed condition

2 weeks before your exam, you should definitely be

practicing writing your essay under timed conditions. Sit
down, take a random question and for 40mins write out
that essay like you're sitting the HSC!

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