Bizarre picture of pencil flagged as HSC curveball question by experts – Mercy Catholic College Chatswood
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Bizarre picture of pencil flagged as HSC curveball question by experts

Bizarre picture of pencil flagged as HSC curveball question by experts

Experts have revealed how HSC students should have answered a curveball question that was based on a cryptic picture of a pencil and barbed wire.

 

A cryptic picture of a pencil poking through a chain-link fence in the HSC English Advanced exam today was a potential curveball for many students.

This is what markers were looking for and what they did not want to see, according to leading HSC English expert Dr Brian McMahon from tutoring company Matrix Education.

“Often these writing from stimulus tasks require quite a selective approach, to look at the stimulus and think what can I use from this without necessarily treating it literally or obliging myself to use every element of it,” he said.

“A good candidate would look at it and say, I am going to read this as representative of a kind of barrier and I am going to write about barriers or because it is someone with a pencil, I am going to read it as representative of artistic expression and how it crosses borders’,” he said.

“Someone who was less creative in their response and was simply going to write a description of the image in front of me and had missed the memo about this being an exercise in the use of figurative language, they would do less well.


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A cryptic picture of a pencil poking through a chain-link fence in the HSC English Advanced exam today was a potential curveball for many students.

This is what markers were looking for and what they did not want to see, according to leading HSC English expert Dr Brian McMahon from tutoring company Matrix Education.

“Often these writing from stimulus tasks require quite a selective approach, to look at the stimulus and think what can I use from this without necessarily treating it literally or obliging myself to use every element of it,” he said.

“A good candidate would look at it and say, I am going to read this as representative of a kind of barrier and I am going to write about barriers or because it is someone with a pencil, I am going to read it as representative of artistic expression and how it crosses borders’,” he said.

“Someone who was less creative in their response and was simply going to write a description of the image in front of me and had missed the memo about this being an exercise in the use of figurative language, they would do less well.

Some students may have been baffled by the cryptic picture. Students could write either a creative, discursive or persuasive response. He said creative writing was seen at the safe option while the discursive one could trip students up.

“It needs to have a genuine discussion rather than simply a description,” he said.

“You could still get caught out if you didn’t use the stimulus entirely.

English Standard students were asked to “compose a piece of imaginative, discursive or persuasive writing that develops ONE idea about luck explored in the stimulus provided.”

“Luck is defined as success or failure apparently caused by chance … But I’ve realised by watching so long that luck is rarely a lightning strike, isolated and dramatic. It’s much more like the wind blowing constantly. Sometimes it’s calm, and sometimes it blows in gusts. And sometimes it comes from directions that you didn’t even imagine.”

Dr McMahon said students really had to zero in on one idea or otherwise they would spread themselves too thin — and could even gain marks if they admitted they’re writing had not set out what they had tried to achieve in the subsequent reflection statement.

Chatswood’s Mercy Catholic College student Sophie Satnarine, who studied English Advanced, said she had planned to do some creative writing in the exam but upon seeing the pencil picture immediately knew she had to do a discursive piece of writing.

“After looking at the stimulus I could see it linked quite well with something I had prepared. I was able to mould it and fix it to the stimulus,” she said.

“I linked it to the rise of fascism in history and neo-Nazi and how people’s minds are restrained by their thought processes, how their futures are written by other people’s ideas — it was a bit complex but I was happy with it.”

Auburn Girls, Sefton High and Glenwood High School were all closed for cleaning due to Covid-19 cases, potentially disrupting students sitting today’s English exams and tomorrow’ economics exams.

 

Written by Christopher Harris Daily Telegraph 10th November 2021

As seen in the Daily Telegraph

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