The Best Study Tips from an English State Ranker

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Meet one of our extraordinary tutors – Ella Bradford.

In 2020, Ella state ranked 9th in NSW for both English Advanced and Drama.

As an ex- Hornsby Girls High School student, Ella wasn’t always a top English student – and rather, floated around slightly above average throughout most of her junior years (with the exception of being top in year 8 for English). She’s an eloquent speaker, eager to make sure that her students truly understand the conceptual basis of their texts and the steps to mastering an essay.

Achieving Academic Excellence

What was her study schedule?

Ella credits a large portion of her HSC success to consistent practice and a dedication to understanding the fundamental concepts of her texts.

What was her study schedule?

  • A from a flexible weekly schedule (which she would arrange at the beginning of each week).

  • Allocating time slots to specific tasks e.g. writing an English paragraph for an hour

  • Using Google Calendars as reminders to stop procrastinating and to do work

  • Working solidly from 4-7, free time from 7-8, then working solidly again from 9 to whenever she wanted to sleep

Study Advice?

We all know that time is of the essence, especially in our last year of high school where we strain ourselves to always have the most productive study sessions. Whilst that is true, Ella also thinks that understanding the mental processes to writing English is essential to the art of crafting a 20/20 essay.

“Try explain the concept out loud or on paper. It really puts you into the mindset to conceptualise what you do and don’t understand about the text. Instead of just word vomiting, try to understand exactly what your interpretation of the text is”

Ella emphasises the importance of consolidating your understanding - her method was having internal discussions, however, she can offer numerous ways in which you can do so yourself. Whether it is drawing a mind map, debating with yourself, or just sitting down and writing whatever comes to your mind.

….And also:

“Tell yourself that you love it – then you love it”

Improvement Mechanisms

Tackling Senior English - Ella's Best Tips

  • Write out scaffolds to past questions

Rather than writing out an entire essay to different practice questions, write out the scaffold. This includes your introduction, thesis statements and quotes that you would use for analysis.

5 essay scaffolds > one full essay

What to Write:

  1. An Introduction

  2. Thesis statements

  3. Quotes you'll use

“Think of a tree – the trunk is your thesis, the roots are your context, each branch is a point, the leaves are your analysis, and the vines represent your unique interpretation. “

It's important to not think about essays as isolated paragraphs, you're trying to look at the bigger picture, where you build on an overarching argument with analysis and sub-points.

  • Timed practice paragraphs

HSC is all about answering the questions within the set time frame, so practice, practice, practice.

  • Understand that English is not just about natural ability

We can all improve if we set our minds to it. Do not fall into the entity mindset. Ella was not

How did you improve from Year 11 to Year 12?

  • Writing feedback for yourself after trials

  • Growth mindset

  • Composing a personal, unique interpretation to the studied text

Wanting to try out a group class or 1:1 session with Ella? Enquire now on our website.

[Article Written by Cassie Cai]

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