Centre for Continuing Education

HSC Essay Writing Course

HSC Exam Preparation. The smart way to prepare for your HSC.

Prepare for HSC Exam Preparation the smart way with HSC Exam Preparation courses at CCE, the University of Sydney.

This two-day Essay Writing course focuses on the essay form and related critical thinking, language and punctuation skills for students in Years 10 – 12. The course is relevant to a range of subjects that require the writing of essays for assignments and exams.

In this essay writing course senior high school students will study how to structure essays, organise ideas and information, and write in appropriate language for assignments and exam essays. There will be an analysis of the essay form and the need for an organised, logical argument with evidence and analytic discussion of the evidence. This will include a focus on appropriate language, rhetoric and punctuation as well as study of the nature of a formal voice, appropriate educated vocabulary for different courses, and the range from a formal to a more conversational voice. Sophisticated punctuation is introduced as a mode of complex thinking. The sections on the body of the essay focus on critical thinking and argument as a combination of a sequence of ideas, evidence and extended analytic comment about evidence.

This will be followed by an overview of the traditional structure of introduction, body and conclusion. The course then provides an introduction to critical thinking and argument in relation to Bloom’s taxonomy and syllabus outcomes and questions and marking guidelines for examinations in New South Wales.

There will be detailed teacher presentation and student discussion and practice writing the introduction, body and conclusion of an essay on a topic of their own choice. Students' writing will be reviewed individually in one on one sessions, with the teacher providing advice about their individual work as well as the form of the essay. The discussion of the body and the related practice writing includes special focus on making connections between ideas, evidence and different texts, areas and authorities (synthesis).

The Timing of research and writing is explored throughout the course and stressed in the discussion of the essay conclusion, along with the fact that an appropriate conclusion is essential, and with guidance about to how write a successful conclusion.

Throughout the course students are advised about the importance of genuine interest in order to write genuinely interesting essays. Discussion of related examination material – including examination papers and high-ranking essays – provided by NESA further supports individual student responses and individual student practice in writing essays.


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • plan and structure an essay in relation to a research assignment or examination question and with awareness of the significance of learning for any essay
  • write an essay with an introduction, body and conclusion
  • write an essay with a focus on critical thinking and a sustained argument that combines ideas, evidence and analytic exploration of evidence in relation to the development of the argument
  • write an essay with the advantage of analysis and discussion of Bloom’s taxonomy and its relation to advanced critical thinking, syllabus requirements and examination standards, including making connections between parts of texts, between texts, and between areas of knowledge and learning (synthesis)
  • develop appropriate vocabulary, rhetoric and punctuation in a formal and individual written style suitable for essays and subjects in Stages 5 and 6
  • respond to research essays and examination essays with appropriate discussion and practice about the importance of timing
  • develop a focus on individual responses and essays written in an individual, educated voice
  • write essays with understanding of NESA syllabus and prescription requirements, marking guidelines and previous exam answers
  • improve essay writing across a wide range of ability and a high level of achievement
  • analyse and respond to NESA material about syllabus and prescription requirements, and previous examination questions and essays.


(Aligned to NESA Syllabus Reference Points)

HSC English Standard and Advanced Syllabus: 3,6,7,8,9,10,12.
  • The structure of an essay: introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Reading an exam question and planning an essay.
  • Exam marking guidelines.
  • Bloom’s taxonomy of higher order thinking.
  • A guide to argument, analysis and making connections (synthesis).
  • Study of previous exam essays across a range of standards.
  • Punctuation and rhetoric (how to build high achieving sentences).
  • Writing practice and detailed comment by the teacher.
  • Individual supervision and advice about individual issues in relation to language and essay technique in order to achieve maximum written communication skills and results.

Intended Audience

Students in Years 10-12 English and other essay based courses.

Delivery Style

The course will be delivered by a combination of tutor presentation, group discussion, reading and writing practice and tutor advice about students' writing. Students should be prepared for interactive learning so need to bring their own “fully charged device” plus writing materials. They will need access to self-selected school texts for practice essay writing as the course progresses. Online activities supplement learning activities.


A course booklet and another booklet with previous examination papers and essays provided by NESA are included in the course fees.

Getting Through Your HSC: A Practical Guide

While you progress through this journey and also the conclusion of your schooling life, we know you’ll have a lot on your mind – exams, future study, careers – but remember, while keeping focused on these bigger goals and aspirations, it’s also important not to forget your own health and well-being.

For tips on staying motivated and keeping focused, dealing with anxiety, keeping healthy, relaxation, pre-study exercise and more, read our article Getting Through Your HSC: A Practical Guide.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • It was a difficult but enlightening experience. I learnt so much and I look forward to writing better essays in the future.

  • We had a fantastic teacher and the class size was perfect! Everything was taught in great depth and my essay writing has most definitely improved!

  • My tutor for the HSC essay writing course not only helped me and guided me when required, but also kept the course enjoyable.

  • It was a really interesting and helpful course. It was way better than what I’m learning at school and I look forward to continuing more courses when I start my HSC.

HSC Essay Writing Course

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What others say.

  • This experience was eye-opening and most definitely intriguing. I learnt more about essays during this course than I did at school. I was happy with the class size and the teacher. They kept it fun and enjoyable throughout. I look forward to applying for future courses at the University of Sydney.
  • I learnt how to properly structure an essay and I made some really good friends while completing this course.
  • The course taught us how to write essays in great depth and to obtain a deeper understanding of the content and requirements of HSC English.