Teaching yourself the area of study: Discovery

13 October 2015
13 October 2015 The Alchemy Team

If you’ve just started year 12 then you are probably gearing up for a huge year. It will be one of the biggest schooling years of your life and it demands constant and ongoing focus – but it will also be hugely rewarding as you learn what you are truly capable of.

Whilst each student has their own subjects and within each of those, their own modules and texts, every single year 12 student is going to have to go through the English area of study; Discovery. It is the only part of the HSC studied by every student – and therefore, your markers read 80,000 Discovery essays at the end of the year making it hugely competitive and challenging.

If you want to get an unrivalled head start on your class, take yourself through the area of study before your teacher does. You will spend a whole term on it at some point, but if you are looking to maximise your marks use the following guide to get ahead.

The module.

Discovery. The process of learning new things about ourselves and the world around us.

The first thing you need to do is get your head around the concept of discovery.

Here is the text from the Rubric. I’ve underlined the most important parts that would make excellent topic sentences or thesis statements and will probably form the basis of your HSC question.

Discovery can encompass the experience of discovering something for the first time or rediscovering something that has been lost, forgotten or concealed. Discoveries can be sudden and unexpected, or they can emerge from a process of deliberate and careful planning evoked by curiosity, necessity or wonder. Discoveries can be fresh and intensely meaningful in ways that may be emotional, creative, intellectual, physical and spiritual. They can also be confronting and provocative. They can lead us to new worlds and values, stimulate new ideas, and enable us to speculate about future possibilities. Discoveries and discovering can offer new understandings and renewed perceptions of ourselves and others.

An individual’s discoveries and their process of discovering can vary according to personal, cultural, historical and social contexts and values. The impact of these discoveries can be far-reaching and transformative for the individual and for broader society. Discoveries may be questioned or challenged when viewed from different perspectives and their worth may be reassessed over time. The ramifications of particular discoveries may differ for individuals and their worlds.

By exploring the concept of discovery, students can understand how texts have the potential to affirm or challenge individuals’ or more widely-held assumptions and beliefs about aspects of human experience and the world. Through composing and responding to a wide range of texts, students may make discoveries about people, relationships, societies, places and events and generate new ideas. By synthesising perspectives, students may deepen their understanding of the concept of discovery. Students consider the ways composers may invite them to experience discovery through their texts and explore how the process of discovering is represented using a variety of language modes, forms and features.

In their responses and compositions, students examine, question, and reflect and speculate on: 

  • their own experiences of discovery 
  • the experience of discovery in and through their engagement with texts 
  • assumptions underlying various representations of the concept of discovery
  • how the concept of discovery is conveyed through the representations of people, relationships, societies, places, events and ideas that they encounter in the prescribed text and other related texts of their own choosing
  • how the composer’s choice of language modes, forms, features and structure shapes representations of discovery and discovering
  • the ways in which exploring the concept of discovery may broaden and deepen their understanding of themselves and their world.

It is worth finding out what text your teacher is choosing (all the options are here) and begin reading/watching/studying it as soon as possible. You will also want to find one or two related texts that closely link to the themes of your set text as you will need them soon.

Create small tasks for yourself by writing mini essays on texts that explore discovery. You will find this easiest if you focus on texts that you have done in the past rather than trying to learn new ones because you really do have enough going on. Some suggestions:

  • Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad (novel)
  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (novel)
  • The Road not taken, Robert Frost (poem)
  • The Descendants (film, starring George Clooney)
  • The Divergent series

The sooner you start working with Discovery the better you will go later.

The area of study exam.

This is often referred to simply as Paper 1 as it is the very first HSC exam you will do. It consists of 3 parts – a comprehension section, a creative writing piece and an essay on your prescribed text plus at least 1 related text. You have a total of 2 hours to complete the exam and each section is worth 15 marks. This will also follow the same format in your trial exam.

Practice paper 1

Practice paper 2

Practice paper 3

Practice essay questions

To prepare for the exam you will need to:

Recognise techniques and know how to construct analysis in a succinct manner.

Have 1 or 2 creative writing ideas. You want to have full stories mapped out before an exam – don’t go in empty handed. I’ve seen it go wrong way too many times.

Know your discovery text really well, have a related text that shares similar ideas and be able to adapt your essay to a specific question.

Whilst this is the exam structure, your in school assessment might be different – so find out what it is going to be and get practicing as soon as possible.

It is worth noting that of the 4 previous areas of study, Discovery is my favourite. I think it is the most engaging and some of the text choices are excellent. Try to enjoy it, have fun and hit it out of the park!Considering a tutor for your child? We can help! We have amazing tutors ready to go that will help your child grow in confidence, love the learning experience and ultimately realise what they are capable of. Learn more here and book their first lesson online today!

Get in touch

Let's create gold together.