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How to write a creative response

So many exams are about learning facts and sticking to the same formula, so it should come as no surprise that students can find it difficult to break the mould when it comes to writing a creative response.

Fortunately, there are a number of techniques that can make it much easier to write a great creative response piece that’s reflective, insightful, and worthy of a great grade. Once you to know the format, you might even find that you enjoy this less restricted form of academic writing!

What is a creative response?

Creative responses are English assignments that require students to tap into their creative side – picking up on the themes, commentaries, and ideas that are presented in a piece of literature that they’re studying.

The assessment is all about demonstrating your understanding of the literary techniques used in the text. Unlike other exams, though, you’re not being asked to critically analyse a text or demonstrate your understanding of the narrative.

Instead, the challenge here is to apply your knowledge and understanding of the text to create your own piece of writing that embodies the spirit and deploys the methods used in the literature you’ve been learning about.

How to format a creative response

Creative responses can take a couple of forms, so even though your writing will be relatively unrestricted, you still need to stay on topic and structure your writing in a relevant way.

It could be that you’re asked to write a brief narrative, a diary entry for an established character, or a short script. Either way, it’s likely to be a format that allows you to stretch your creative muscles and convey some of the ideas, feelings, and thoughts that the texts you’ve studied tap into.

Top tips for writing a creative response

Creative writing allows you to let loose with your own ideas, but that doesn’t mean your teachers and examiners aren’t looking for certain things. If you want to score the very best marks, consider the following whenever you’re writing a creative response:

Do express your views

Most people form views about the themes expressed in their English texts, but typical exam questions don’t really give you the space to explore those thoughts. Creative responses are your chance to think outside of the box and to make some arguments about the real world. Think about how the ideas and themes expressed in your text apply to the modern world, and use that to develop a narrative of your own.

Don’t focus too much on flowery language

The very best creative pieces use plenty of adjectives and descriptive phrases – but that shouldn’t be at the expense of a proper narrative. The point of these assessments is to convey your ideas, and getting too caught up on metaphors and expressive language could tip your writing over into the realm of poetry.

Do show, don’t tell

Even though you don’t need to go overboard with the flowery language, you still need to communicate your ideas in a way that showcases your understanding of the vocabulary, imagery and symbolism from the relevant text. Rather than saying that a character is “tired”, you should instead be saying that “their sunken eyes betrayed many late nights”. Unleash your inner author, and let those marks role in!

Achieve your full potential with VCE tutoring

Since 2005, Alchemy Tuition has worked with thousands of students to help them achieve the best possible results.

All of our friendly and affordable tutors have been in the same shoes, studying hard and hoping to get a great grade. We know what the examiners are looking for, and we’ll help you (or your child) to excel with patience and a few study secrets!

To find out more, or to book an initial tutoring session, visit our site.

How to write an argument analysis

Argument analysis (also know as language analysis, analysis argument, and a variety of other names) is the second area of study (AoS 2) that’s known to be one of the most challenges parts of the VCE English course. Part of the problem is that many schools schedule in their argument analysis SAC at an early stage in the year – so you need to keep your skills sharp if you’re to perform well when the end-of-year task roles around.

In this article, we cover the basics of how to write a great argument analysis answer and impart a few of our favourite tips on how to push your grade just that little bit higher.

What is an argument analysis?

Argument analysis is one of the three core elements of the VCE English course. It’s also quite different from the other key areas of the course, since both text response and comparative answers focus on the analysis of the novels, films, and other texts that you study throughout the year. Argument analysis, in contrast, sees students tasked with analysing ‘cold material’ that they’ve not seen before.

Getting down to business, the language analysis requires students to look at a number of articles or images that have typically been written for the media as an opinion piece or as part of a political or social campaign. Your task is to carefully read the article, analyse and scrutinise the persuasive techniques used, and communicate this analysis in an essay.

What do the examiners want from an argument analysis answer? 

Aside from strong analytical skills, there are a few specific things the examiners are looking for when they’re grading argument analysis answers.

First things first, they want to see that you understand the arguments and points of view that are contained within the text. The trick here is to avoid misinterpreting what the writer means when they’re expressing their views, and that can be easier said than done if you aren’t familiar with the central issue discussed.

You’ll need to provide a thorough analysis of the language techniques used to present the argument if you want to score a top mark. It’s really a case of explaining what the writer is doing to try to persuade the reader that their point of view is the right one. Think rhetorical questions, statistics, inclusive writing and you won’t go far wrong. When you’re writing your essay answer, your best bet is to explicitly point out these language techniques before explaining (in simple terms) what they do to bring the reader around to the writer’s viewpoint.

Finally, as with all English answers, you need to write clearly and effectively in an appropriate register. Using an effective writing style and appropriate language will help the examiners to understand the points you’re trying to make, and prevent them from deducting marks for the use bad grammar or a poor approach to expressing ideas.

Top tips for getting a better argument analysis mark

Whether you’re preparing for your SACs or the exam itself, there’s just one pneumonic you’ll need to remember if you want to get the best possible argument analysis grade – the 5Ps:






As ever, the answer is thorough and effective preparation, so be sure to get hold of some sample texts and practise with past exam papers. Knowing what to expect will help to raise your confidence levels and get you used to the argument analysis format.

It also helps to know and understand as many of the linguistic techniques that might be deployed by a writer to persuade readers. We’ve already mentioned statistics, inclusive language, and rhetorical questions, but think also about:

  • Anecdotes
  • The use of expert opinion
  • Repetition
  • Exaggeration
  • Generalisation

Finally, make sure that you’re expressing yourself effectively too. Be sure to flex your vocabulary by describing the way the writer is communicating, but be careful to ensure that your writing still makes sense.

By practising and using these methods, you should be well on your way to getting a great mark!

Get better marks with Alchemy Tuition

Since 2005, Alchemy Tuition has worked with thousands of students to help them achieve the best possible results.

All of our friendly and affordable tutors have been in the same shoes, studying hard and hoping to get a great grade. We know what the examiners are looking for, and we’ll help you (or your child) to excel at writing argument analysis answers and much, much more.

To find out more, or to book an initial tutoring session, visit our site.

How to analyse an HSC English text

HSC English is no easy ride. As the only mandatory HSC subject, there are lots of students who don’t particularly love the syllabus and there are even more that find it quite difficult. Part of the reason for this is that students are required to analyse texts as part of the course, and analysis is a pretty tricky skill to master.

If you’re cruising at band 3 or below, and even if you’re a top student already, the ability to thoroughly analyse a text could raise your grade significantly. To help you understand more, here’s our quick guide to analysing an HSC English text.

Know your texts, and understand what you’re being asked to do

Textual analysis is the cornerstone of HSC English, and you can’t write great essays without analysing your texts. The only catch is that to do that effectively, you’ll need to have an intimate understanding of your texts. There’s just no getting away from the fact that you need to read them so you can draw out the comparisons, links, and themes you’ll need for coherent analysis.

You also need to know what the examiners are looking for when they ask you to ‘analyse’ something. To understand that, we need to look at the HSC English syllabus – which you can find here. Now, whilst everything in HSC English ultimately comes down to analysis in one way or another, what we can say is that when you’re asked to analyse a text, the examiners want you to deconstruct the ideas, events, and themes that you’re reading about. It might be that you’re asked to break down a specific part of a text, the emotional responses displayed by characters, or the overriding themes.

The upshot is that you need to know your texts well enough to be able to understand and discuss the ideas and themes expressed by the authors.

Put your texts under a microscope

Top band HSC English answers do so much more than just recapping the texts, and it’s vital to actually answer the questions rather than just regurgitating everything that you’ve learned. Good analysis is all about cause and effect – examining the literary techniques used and how they give meaning or introduce a certain theme.

More often than not, you’ll be expected to pick up on a key theme that runs throughout a text and show how it’s communicated using the techniques you’ve studies. The key is to link everything you discuss back to the question in some way or another, and to find quotes that actually support what you’re saying.

Don’t go off on a tangent, don’t be tempted to provide a list of every part of the text where a certain theme is discussed, but do take a detail-orientated approach to finding the most powerful examples of the points that you’re making.

Run with your own ideas

The thing about literature is that it’s meant to be read subjectively. By that, we mean that everybody understands and interprets a text in their own individual way. Unless, of course, you read a quick online summary.

It might seem easier to just read SparkNotes or another online overview of your HSC English texts, but really you’ll just be cheating yourself. You see, the examiners can tell when somebody hasn’t read the text fully because they’ll only have a limited grasp of the themes, literary techniques, and plot points. That, and the fact that there’ll be a good few other papers that look suspiciously similar to yours.

By actually engaging with the text, your analysis will be so much more authentic, and you’ll be able to home in on those unique perspectives that examiners love. Remember, there are no ‘wrong’ answers in HSC English – just so long as you can show evidence within the text for the points that you make.

Improve your analysis skills for HSC English

Fortunately, you’ll have a lot of time to sharpen your analysis skills – the whole school year in fact! Learning how to analyse a text is a process, and to do it properly you need to have an in-depth understanding of the subject material, the themes involved, and the literary techniques used to discuss, explore, and comment on those themes.

If you want to score highly on your HSC English paper, Alchemy Tuition can help. All of our HSC English tutors have been in the same position, and they’ve worked with thousands of students across New South Wales. To book an initial lesson or to find out more, visit our site.

How to do well in VCE

VCE. Those three letters are enough to make any Year 11 or 12 student anxious, but there are plenty of techniques that you can deploy to ace your final exams.

To use its full name, the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) can be demanding – but so long as you set realistic goals, plan your time, and study hard, there’s no reason why you can’t walk out with a top ATAR score.

If you need some help along the way, here are some of the very best tips for getting higher VCE grades.

Work smarter, not harder

Don’t get us wrong, you still need to work hard if you want to get good grades in VCE, but you don’t need to slog it out. Memorising all the information on the syllabus might seem like a good idea, but by trying to retain all those details you risk drawing a blank when you finally sit your exam paper.

Instead, you should be building knowledge and skills. To do this, study the exam questions that have come up before, work more on your weaker topics to bring them up to standard, and focus on the parts of the syllabus that you least understand.

Practise with past exam questions

It’s hard to properly emphasise the importance of running through past VCE exam questions. Doing so will not only help you to get to grips with the content on the syllabus, but also to develop confidence and familiarity with the exam format.

There are few better feelings than sitting down in an exam hall and realising that the questions are similar to the ones you’ve been practising for weeks and months. Trust us on this one – practise, practise, practise!

Accept help!

Your best weapon in the VCE is not your ability to write quickly, or your encyclopaedic knowledge of the periodic table. It’s your teachers. They’re there to help you succeed, and it’s what they want even if you’ve previously written them off as grumpy academics.

To utilise their knowledge of the VCE, ask for more feedback, let them know if you’re struggling with a topic, and don’t be afraid to ask ‘stupid’ questions. There really is no such thing.

Maintain a balance

Years 11 and 12 are full of milestones, and the VCE shouldn’t be all-consuming no matter which university you want to go to.

Try not to stress too much about your ATAR score throughout the year, and instead focus on doing the best you can without burning yourself out. If you’re motivated to do well, you will. It’s as simple as that, and time spent overthinking and worrying about your performance will not be productive.

Achieve your full potential with VCE tutoring

Since 2005, Alchemy Tuition has worked with thousands of students to help achieve the best possible VCE results.

All of our friendly and affordable tutors have been in the same shoes, studying for the VCE and hoping to get a great grade. We know what the examiners are looking for, and we’ll help you or your child to excel with patience and a few study secrets!

To find out more, or to book an initial VCE tutoring session, visit our site.

10 benefits of tutoring

Every parent wants the best possible education for their child, but it’s not always so easy to know how to provide that. Often, we don’t have too much choice on where we send our kids to school, and even less choice over the subjects they take, how they’re taught, and who by.

It’s in tackling these concerns that the services of a private tutor can really come into their own. It might be that they’re brought in to help with a single topic that a student struggles with, or perhaps they’ll offer longer-term support ahead of some big exams. Either way, there are lots of advantages to bringing in a tutor. Here are some of the very best.

The ‘one-on-one’ effect

How many other students are in your child’s class? In most cases it’ll be somewhere between 24 to 30, and it’s easy to see why that presents a problem. School teachers have a responsibility to their whole class, and that means they need to split their attention between all of the students – leaving them with less time to focus on the challenges that individual children face.

In contrast, a private tutor will be 100% focussed on your child during their sessions. There’ll be no distractions, no other students to answer questions for, and no group environment anxiety to prevent your child from asking for help when they need it.

No holiday learning loss

Holidays are important. They give kids the chance the relax, and it’s important to remember that simultaneously learning more subjects than you can count on your fingers can be exhausting. The only problem is that children can forget some of what they’ve learned whilst they’re whiling away their time during the summer or whenever else.

Hiring a tutor will prevent learning loss over the holiday period, keeping your child on track.

Bespoke learning for unique students

All children are different, and that means they learn in different ways. You might have seen exam study tips that talk about learning visually or through repetition, and this is a great example of what we mean here.

A student can maximise their potential by learning in a way that suits them. The only trouble is, schools don’t often give them that option since they have to learn however the teachers choose. A good private tutor will always play to their tutee’s strengths – making it easier for them to learn even the most complex of topics.

Motivation to excel

Private tuition puts a real focus on a student’s education, with their performance in the spotlight.

Simply put, this means that students are likely to be motivated to do their very best.

A learning safety net

Another important benefit of private tutoring is that students will have another line of defence against topics that they struggle with.

As teachers have so many students to help out, they might not necessarily notice if one of their flock has fallen behind. A private tutor will help to recognise any issues like this, rectifying them as they go.

Smarter, not harder, study

When students set out to get better grades, they often sit down to hard study sessions and hours upon hours of reading textbooks. The problem is, working like this isn’t effective for most students.

A private tutor will help their tutee to find the most efficient ways of working, and will bring with them the most useful strategies.

Important learning skills

An Alchemy tutor won’t just help your child to learn the topics on the syllabus, they’ll teach them how to learn too. This might sound bizarre, but effective learning is a skill, and one that we need throughout our lives.

By engaging with a private tutor, students can learn invaluable skills that’ll stick with them through high school, into university, and beyond.

A competitive edge

If your child wants to achieve the highest marks in their school year, a tutor could help them to stand out from the pack. Whilst a high school English class might take some time to review the main features of a literature text, extra time with a tutor will help your child to really get to grips with even the more nuanced passages.

That little bit of extra knowledge could be the difference between an ATAR rank in the 50s to 60s, and one in the 90s.

Peace of mind for parents

Parents with busy schedules might not get all that much time to really sit down with their children to discuss their learning. By bringing in a private tutor, you can get regular updates on your child’s performance that go above and beyond the details given in end-of-year reports.


When working with a private tutor, a child can ask all of the questions that they want. This means that they can get the answers to those burning queries, and can really address any areas of the syllabus that they might be too embarrassed to admit they struggle with in front of their peers.

It’s the next best thing to bottled confidence!

Helping students to succeed

Since 2005, Alchemy Tuition has worked with thousands of students to help attain top grades and come around to loving learning.

All of our friendly and affordable tutors have been in the same shoes. We know what the examiners are looking for, and we’ll help you or your child to excel whether they’re struggling with primary school math or Year 11 and 12 exams.

To find out more, or to book an initial tutoring session, visit our site.