HSC Society & Culture Exam – Q&A

What is the best way to remember the course concepts?

Hopefully you already have a good handle on your fundamental and additional course concepts. If you’re struggling to remember them though, try taking each of the initial letters of the concepts and create a memorable phrase, e.g. The fundamental concepts (society, time, persons, environment, and culture) might become, ‘Every silly cat pounces twice’.

How should you integrate concepts into your responses?


Concepts need to be applied throughout all responses. This means you should be using the features of the concepts to unpack your claims. To do this, you need to know the definitions of your concepts, e.g., if you were asked ‘How can social change influence society at the micro level?’ (2020 Exam) you could apply ‘technologies’ to your answer.

Do we need to memorise statistics and figures?

Yes. Especially if they are relevant to your country study (in the Core) and your focus study if you do Social Inclusion and Exclusion. You need to do this to show you can ‘support your response with a wide range of detailed and accurate information and effectively integrates appropriate examples’ which will be part of your marking criteria.

What is the best way to manage your time? Specifically in the extended responses.

Keep your eye on the clock and make yourself stop writing at 40 minute mark for your depth studies (10 mins for 5 markers, 30 mins for 15 markers). You can always come back to tidy up the response if you have time left. Avoid spending too long on intros and conclusions – just make sure your focus study and thesis is clear in both. Avoid repeating examples and avoid detail that is not relevant to the question.

Also, make sure you do not overwrite and waste time on questions with fewer marks in Section I. No need to write more than the lines are asking for.

Any tips for writing faster possibly?

Cursive writing is quicker than printing (just make sure it is legible). You can do hand exercises to strengthen the muscles and stamina, and when you are writing out responses for revision, experiment with writing concisely. Try to figure out ways to say more with less. Applying concepts and using nominalisation will help you here.

Could you please explain how to structure long responses (from 5-15marks)

5 markers – Address the question; elaborate/explain what you mean using concepts; unpack relevant example/s. If you have time, include a concluding sentence that ties back to the question.

How can you maximise marks in the two essays? Are there any essential components to incorporate?

The best way to maximise your marks is to ensure you are making judgements throughout your response.

Can you write on the exam in section 1?

Yes. But make sure your actual answer is unaffected by scribble/notes. And don’t be silly or offensive.

Can examples be about your personal life. like “for example in my household”…and if so…when is it more appropriate to talk about yourself and talk about a bigger group of people.

It is allowed, but opportunities are limited. A personal example might be relevant in a short answer question on the micro experience of the social/cultural world, or in relation to the implementation of a research method.

What example type is better — for example ‘Indigenous Australians are facing a housing crisis’ vs a specific housing crisis story, ‘xyz in this location has been facing an asbestos housing crises?

It depends what question you are answering, a more general example with specific features is okay for the 5 marker in a depth study, but you want to include really detailed, relevant examples in your 15 markers. It’s also a good idea to start with a general statement, then provide the detailed example afterwards/to illustrate what you mean.

With names, how important is the spelling? For example, if I spell the name of a place or of a person incorrectly, will I lose marks for it?

You won’t ‘lose marks’ for bad spelling. Accurate spelling is not in any of the marking criteria. The most important thing is that your marker understands what word you mean. If you get a few letters mixed up in hard names, you won’t be penalised. Most important thing is that your writing is coherent, i.e., that sentences have a clear idea in them.

Do they mark planning?

Planning paper is not marked. Random annotations and thoughts scribbled around the outside of the page are usually ignored, too. There will also be a different marker for different sections of your paper, so if you scribble a thought about a depth study on the bottom of your Section I paper, it won’t be read by the person marking your depth study.

What makes a strong thesis? How should you formulate one?

You need to think carefully about the directive verb being used in the question, e.g., ‘explain’ ‘assess’ ‘to what extent’ etc and respond to it comprehensively. You also need to make sure your thesis is broad enough that it addresses all of the components of the question, but specific enough that it can be proven with your ideas and examples. The most important component of a strong thesis is the why or the how part. So, as your thesis states your central argument, it also needs to state why/how that is the case. For this reason, a strong thesis will probably have a word like, ‘because’, or ‘due to’ in it.

How many examples should I use for a 15 question?

There is no set amount of examples, but you need to have a detailed range of examples to demonstrate your points. Say you make four body points, you need at least one detailed example per point with many little features within it to prove that point, or multiple smaller examples that also prove that point.

How are we able to be detailed and concise since SAC topics are broad?

Stick to what the question is asking. Avoid data-dumping everything you know about the topic. Make sure your examples are relevant so all of the detail counts. Making sure you only use relevant examples should help with concision.

How can we meet the minimum page requirement for essays, eg, 4-6 pages for a 15 marker?

The 15 marker will have 2-3 parts you need to think about. Think about the features of the concepts in the question and the elements of the dot-point it draws upon. Use definitions to set up answers; use a range of detailed examples for EVERY claim you make. Also, every time you make a point, follow it up with a statement showing how it answers the question.

How to tackle multiple choice questions?

Identify the terms and concepts in the question. Define them/consider their features. Apply those features to the other parts of the question and/or think about which ones are being upheld in the answer options.

What is the best way to study/prepare for the HSC Society and Culture exam?

For Section I, learn your concepts/research methods and their definitions. Practise applying them by doing past papers and questions you’ve made up for yourself/with friends. Revise your country study and think about how you can use the same examples for different syllabus dot-points.