Nothing can seem so daunting to new Year 12 students as hearing that they must find themselves a few extra 'texts of their own choosing' to write about for the HSC English Advanced examinations.

With so many texts set for study anyway, not to mention assessments and extra-curricular commitments, how on earth do you manage to do this? 

For HSC English Advanced as will continue be examined up to and including 2018, you will need supplementary texts of your own choosing for two parts: The Area of Study ‘Discovery’, (Section III of Paper 1) and Module C: Representation and Text (Paper 2).

Write down the syllabus key words for the topic or module. Check the HSC English Prescriptions on the Board Of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) NSW Australia website to find these.

Find out your set text and read this.

Brainstorm – what are the key perspectives or points on the set text in relation to the syllabus key words? For example: Discovery is presented as potentially transforming, the discovery is sudden, it traces a planned physical discovery that leads to further unexpected spiritual or intellectual discoveries. Also note down when the text was written / produced and in what country (socio-cultural and historical context).

Go to the library and ask for their list of possible supplementary texts, ask your parents, siblings, friends. The following website link gives a long list of possible supplementary texts for the Area of Study: Discovery. It is from the English Teachers’ Association, compiled by an HSC Examiner:

Try to choose something that is in a different medium or genre from your set text. For example: If your set text is a novel, you might choose a poem. If it is a film, you might choose a newspaper article. This gives you the chance to show off your ability to identify different techniques (e.g.: metaphor and jump cuts).

When you make your choice, think realistically about how much time you have. There is no point choosing a long novel two weeks before your trial HSC exams. Poems can work well if you are running short of time to prepare. Better still, start your search early, in the spring and summer holidays. You don’t have to wait until you have finished studying the text in class before you choose your supplementary.

Try to choose a text that offers a different or contrasting perspective from your set text as well as some similarities (look back at your brainstorm list). Choosing a text from a different time period and country can help here (context).

 Check that your choice of text is suitable; ask your teacher and be prepared to be open to other suggestions if need be.

Kristin Hammett-Stevens