Essay Topics For Yr 8 English Syllabus

The New Year 11 & 12 (Stage 6) English Syllabus starts in 2018

2018 Year 11 students will begin the study of the new Year 11 & 12 (Stage 6) English Syllabus. The 2018 English Syllabus introduces new modules and texts.

In this post, we answer some frequently asked questions from Year 10 students about choosing the right English course for Year 11.


Read on as we compare the different English courses so you can make the right decision.


Introducing the New 2018 Year 11 English Syllabus

Year 11 English is the first year of Stage 6 English.

  • Year 9 and 10 English is known as Stage 5 English
  • Year 11 and 12 English is known as Stage 6 English

Stage 6 English offers three different options – English Advanced, English Standard, and English Studies. More information about Stage 6 can be found on the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) website.

Year 11 English Standard and Advanced courses have set modules for study. The modules for the  Year 11 curriculum starting in 2018 are:

Year 11 English Advanced
Year 11 English Standard
Year 11 English Studies
Common Module:
Reading to Write
Reading to Write
Non Common Module.
Achieving Through English: English in education, work and community
Module A:
Narratives that Shaped the World
Contemporary Possibilities
Chosen from a group of 14 Electives
Module B:
Critical Study of Literature
Close Study of Literature
 Chosen from a group of 14 Electives

Table of HSC English Modules


  • Module is the term used by NESA to describe the unit set for study. The modules prescribe the content studied by students, this includes the approach to the texts.
  • Students must always familiarise themselves with the Module outlines to be able to address their criteria.
  • The Common Module is used to standardise testing for the different levels of English.
  • All students for English Standard and English Advanced will need to take the Common Module in Year 11 and again in Year 12.
  • English Studies students do not do The Common Module in Year 11. In Year 11, English Studies students study the Achieving Through English Module. In Year 12, English Studies students will take the Common Module with English Advanced and English Standard.
  • English Studies students take elective modules chosen by their teachers from a list of 14 options. The list can be found here on the NESA website. The other modules that students take will differ in difficulty depending on which English course they study.
  • The English Advanced Modules are more complex and demanding than the English Standard Modules.
  • In Year 11, there is not a prescribed text list. In Year 12, the texts will be chosen from a list of prescriptions.
  • We recommend students speak with their School English co-ordinator regarding the suitable level of English.
  • There are only 3 assessment tasks allowed to be set for Year 11.


“Universities are increasingly requiring students to have a minimum result in either English Standard or Advanced. “


Choosing the Right English Course (English Advanced, English Standard, or English Studies)

The different levels of English have different requirements for student competency and ability. To help students determine which English course is best for them, we’ve produced a flowchart that illustrates the level of achievement students need to attain for the differing levels.

The Pathways of English Progression


How students perform in Year 10 English should inform their decisions for the level of Year 11 English they choose to study.

  • If they struggle with Year 10 English, students should carefully consider the commitment they will need to make to succeed in Year 11 English Advanced.
  • If students perform well in Year 10 English, but don’t want to commit the time to studying Year 11 English Advanced, they should consider how scaling may benefit them.

We recommend that students discuss this with their High School English teacher and Year Co-ordinator before making a decision.


Comparing English Courses: English Advanced  vs English Standard vs English Studies

What are the specific differences between English Advanced, English Standard, and English Studies? Let’s have a look.

  • English Standard and English Advanced are both Category A subjects. This means that they are academic subjects that qualify for an ATAR.
  • English Studies is Category B subject. You are only allowed to have 2 units of category B in your 10 units for the HSC.
  • As you must have an English subject, English Studies will be the only Category B subject you can take.
  • In addition, some university courses, such as those in education, will require a Band 5 in English Standard or Advanced as a minimum.

The table below compares the three different courses in terms of its aims, complexity of texts, student skills required, study requirements and benefits.

English Studies
English Standard
English Advanced
English Studies aims to teach a practical understanding of English.English Standard is designed to give students competence in analysing and discussing a range of texts.

English Standard is aimed to help students communicate more effectively.

English Advanced develops students’ mastery of English.

They learn to analyse complex texts and discuss them in detail.

Complexity of Texts
Developing reading competency.Common literary texts.Complex and challenging texts.
Students Skills
Correct English usage

Clear essay structure

Basic literary analysis

Oral communication skills.

Correct English usage

Strong essay structure

Aptitude spotting and discussing literary/ dramatic/ poetic/ filmic  techniques

Ability to analyse themes in texts

Strong oral communication skills

Understanding of different mediums of production and textual forms.

Mastery of English usage

Excellent Essay structure

Excellent ability to analyse and discuss a wide range of literary/ dramatic/ poetic/ filmic techniques in texts. Students can use these to support detailed arguments.

Comprehensive understanding of themes in texts

Knowledge of a range of artistic movements and contextual periods

Detailed knowledge of different mediums of production and textual forms. Students develop the ability to discuss how these are used to produce meaning.

Excellent written and oral communication skills.

Students are able to produce texts in a variety of forms and registers.

Study Requirements
2-3 hours per week4-5 hours per week6 hrs + per week
Students who complete English Studies will gain confidence in their oral and written communication skills.

Students will develop a basic understanding of how texts develop meaning.

English Studies is a Category B subject. This means it will only attract an ATAR if it is the only 2 unit Category B subject.

Students will learn to analyse texts.

They will gain an understanding of how composers represent their ideas for various audiences.

Students will be able to communicate effectively in written and oral forms.

Qualifies for an ATAR as a Category A subject.

Students will gain excellent communication skills.

They will learn how to analyse a wide range of complex texts.

They will be able to discuss challenging ideas clearly and concisely.

Students of English Advanced will be well prepared for the communication demands of tertiary education.

English Advanced scales better than Standard, making it easier to achieve the ATAR you need.

Qualifies for an ATAR as Category A Subjects.

Table of the Differences Between English Advanced, English Standard, and English Studies


Understanding What’s Expected of Year 11 English Students

Most Year 10 students find Year 11 English much more demanding. In Stage 6, there is a significant increase in the level of complexity of the texts and the depth of detail with which they are studied.

In Year 10, students identify techniques and discuss what these techniques do. Whereas in Year 11, students need to identify techniques and discuss how they develop meaning in the text.


“You will be presented with similar texts to Stage 5. But in Year 11, you will need to discuss them in far greater depth.”


How to Create and Organise English Study Notes

This means student responses will be longer and more detailed in Year 11 and therefore students will have more homework and need to do more study! So, how should students study for English? Let’s have a look at a comprehensive seven-step process:

    1. Read/ view the set text for the first time to understand the plot and themes.
    2. Read/ view it again to look for useful examples that support these themes.
    3. Make note of the techniques used in the examples and explain how they develop meaning for the audience (you!).
    4. Create a table of the themes and useful quotations from the text. At Matrix, students are provided with Textual Analysis Templates in their Year 11 English Theorybooks like the one below.
Theme/ Character
What to do
Organise your notes by theme or character
Provide a quotation or example from the text




Note and describe the technique used




Explain how the technique affects or shapes your understanding of the meaning in the example




Look for what do others say about this theme or example from the text? Try to look for scholarly articles.

Wikipedia is a good place to begin research, but it is not always reliable or accurate. After reading a Wikipedia article, you should look at its sources and read those articles.

Often Wikipedia articles included suggested further reading, these are ideal places to further continue your research.

Make note of your findings and keep track of the references.

“The Difficulty of Year 11”
Year 11 English is like scaling Mount Everest.


The use of “like” signifies this is a simile


This compares Year 11 English to climbing a large mountain. This argues that Year 11 is hard and requires a lot of careful preparation.


25th June: Lots or people agree that Year 11 English is hard. Some say that universities require to study specific units of English and achieve specific marks. I should look into why that is to develop my notes further.

26th June: The Matrix blog states that “The English Advanced Modules are more complex and demanding than the English Standard Modules.” (

Example From Othello
Iago’s Villainy
Iago: And what’s he then that says I play the villain?  / When this advice is free I give and honest (2.3. 330-331)Rhetorical Question (hypophora – asks a question and immediately answers it)Iago is giving them logical and helpful advice. The use of hypophora is a manipulative technique. Answering the question he’s asked immediately means that Iago’s listeners aren’t given time to formulate an answer against it.24th June: Not sure why Iago is evil?

26th June: Found quote by R.Berry: “This is of the same order as the grotesquely
exaggerated hell-imagery in his speeches, which we should not take at face-value. Iago, in truth, likes to think of himself as evil, as the villain: he plays the role in capital letters.” Berry argues that Iago revels in his villainy and his concealment of it. (R. Berry 1972.

A Sample Study Table for English Notes


  1. Do some research on the text and see how the ideas and perspectives compare to those of others. It is important that students form an opinion of the text before they search out others’. You must demonstrate independent thinking and learning skills! Make sure you enter your research into your study table. (See our example above!).
  2. Write a new essay incorporating changes that fix the flaws of the first essay. Use these notes to write a practice essays and mark it against a school marking rubric. At Matrix, students are provided with comprehensive rubrics and detailed feedback on their work. Matrix rubrics give actionable feedback on the following criteria:
    1. Engagement with the question
    2. Originality
    3. Argumentation
    4. Structure
    5. Use of Evidence
    6. Language Use
  3. Repeat this process by writing another essay to a new question.


As you can see, Year 11 English is far more complex and time-consuming than Year 10 English. In addition, English Advanced is more complex and demanding than English Standard or English Studies.

However, there is a reward for this additional work. There is a greater level of scaling applied to English Advanced. In past years, English Advanced has been scaled significantly higher than English Standard.

For more help, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English for comprehensive tips on how to get Band 6 results.

Let’s see what scaling is and how it works.


Scaling of English Advanced and English Standard?

Scaling is the process of converting HSC marks into scaled marks for comparison across different subjects. This conversion, or ‘scaling,’ is required as students undertake different levels of English. Essentially, comparing the marks of students studying different English courses is not accurate in assessing students in comparison to one another.

A different level of scaling is applied to each subject, this reflects different demands of the subject. As a general rule, the “harder” the unit of study, the “better” the scaling it receives.

“English Advanced scales better than English Standard.”

Please note that students should not be choosing subjects based on scaling. Instead, scaling graphs should be used as the tool for determining your required position/rank in the state for you to obtain your desired ATAR.

For example,

  • A student in 90th percentile (top 10 percent in the state) in English Advanced will receive a scaled mark of 42.5/50 which equates to 85/100, whereas a student in 90th percentile in English Standard will receive a scaled mark of 28/50 which equates to 56/100. Note that you will only need to be in the 30th percentile (top 70 percent in the state) in English Advanced to obtain a scaled mark of 56/100!
  • A student in the 30th percentile in English Advanced will obtain higher scaled mark than a student is in the 90th percentile (top 10 percent in the state) in English Standard.

Graph of Scaling Curves for English Subjects

Scaling is a complex idea, if you would like to know more you should read All About ATAR Scaling.


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