• Anqi Teng

Score 20/20 for unseen texts with last minute revision! 5 high yield tips 💪🏼

The HSC is 2 weeks away, and it's time to show the markers what you've got!


You have been working hard to perfect your essay and practising their essays, but it’s easy to neglect practising your unseen texts! English paper 1 section 1 is the 20 mark beast that creeps up on you if you don’t keep an eye out for it.


If you just remembered unseen texts were a thing, don’t fret! We’re sharing a few great last-minute tips for unseen texts that are high yield and easy to implement – just read on ~


Last Minute Tip 1: Memorise these tables (click on the drop down arrows)


Core Non-visual Text Technique Table






Core Visual Text Technique Table





You can score one mark for unpacking a metaphor and you can score the same mark for unpacking a caesura. You’re not being marked on how many rare techniques you can find, rather, it’s about the quality of your analysis. Have a script for each core technique’s effects.


For example, for a simile, your script should be centred around the abstract meanings found in the comparison, also known as connotations.


The simile likening the sky to a “patient euthanised” connotes a lack of clarity and implies life in the city is hazy and without conscious meaning.


After you memorise the table, go and practise finding and analysing these techniques in some past papers – you’ll be surprised at how quickly it becomes muscle memory!


Last Minute Tip 2: Marks equals pieces of evidence


The more you can minimise feeling confused in the test, the better. Follow some rules of thumb to feel confident about what you’re expected to do. Rather than wondering if you have written enough, just remember that mark value roughly equates to the pieces of evidence you need to answer the question.


Do not force yourself to squeeze in analysis that does not make sense, but just know if you raised 1 piece of evidence for a 5 marker, it probably wasn’t enough.


Last Minute Tip 3: Specify, specify, specify


If a question asks you to discuss an emotion, your response should specify which emotion it is. If a question asks you to examine a human experience, your response should specify what human experience it is. If the question asks you “how” something was achieved, specify the literary devices (techniques) that made it happen.


Don't: The text captures emotions.

Do: The short story captures disappointment.


Don't: The technique helps show how the character feels.

Do: The repetition highlights the character's frustration.


Last Minute Tip 4: For the 7-marker, reuse previous analysis as much as possible.


If you’ve done unseen text past papers before, you definitely noticed this pattern.


There will be 3-4 shorter questions which require you to analyse 1 text, and a final high mark question which demands you to discuss 2 texts in one response.


The paper is designed so that the shorter questions act as a lead up to the final question, and there is always a relationship between the questions! Save time by reusing analysis in the shorter questions in the final 7-marker. Don’t find completely new and unique evidence unless your previous analysis is completely irrelevant.


As my HSC English teacher told us: the final question is free marks!


Last Minute Tip 5: Practise with the syllabus next to you


The syllabus is where all questions are found. You will notice plenty of questions that ask about:

  • How a text represents a human experience

  • How a text represents the emotions associated with a human experience

  • How a text represents an inconsistency in the human experience

  • How a text represents individual or collective experiences


Sound familiar? Of course! These are all syllabus key terms! Print out a copy of the Texts and Human Experiences syllabus and have it next to you when you’re working on your unseen text practise papers. Incorporate syllabus terms where appropriate, and you’re ready to impress the markers!



With these 5 tips in mind and some good hours of practice you should be in tip top shape for Paper 1 Section 1!


Good luck and we’ll see you in the next blog post!


If you want access to more helpful tips for all things high school English, check out the following posts:

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