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2023 HSC English Standard Short Answer Solutions

Looking for sample answers for the HSC English Standard exams? We got you covered! 

The short answer section of the exam consisted of a diverse range of texts that explored intriguing themes and concepts with each text providing a unique perspective on various topics. In this blog, we have compiled sample answers to each question to help you improve and prepare for next year.

Question 1 (4 MARKS)

Text 1 – Poem – Time Capsule by Mike Greenacre

This question asked students to explain how the poet represents the value of shared experiences.

  • Your answer should identify the shared experience and what benefit share experiences provide, this could be physical, emotional, spiritual etc
  • You should then succinctly analyse three examples from the text 


Greenacre’s poem emphasises the emotional benefits of a familial ritual. Through the symbol of tea, Greenacre describes a family’s shared experiences of coming together, “would you like a cup of tea?” Dialogue of the persona’s mother evokes a warm tone and familiar feeling in readers, demonstrating how a cup of tea was “a welcome / and a kind of mental setting / for family and guests”, evoking comfort and connection in their home. The metaphor of a “mental setting” demonstrates how the act of sharing a cup of tea created space and time for people to feel relaxed and share within the collective of family and friends. Greenacre emphasises the importance of this time with the simile, “suddenly the tea bag / had slipped in like a sniper,” connoting the violence of a sniper as tea bags made brewing tea faster and so “killed” the time that the family had to spend together. Thus Greenacre represents that time and connection over a simple object can have enormous benefits for a family and their community. 

Other answers could include: 

  • The lasting impact of shared experiences; how even though the ritual is no longer present in the persona’s life it is still dear to their heart. 
  • The passing of time and the consistency of the ritual, emphasising its value 

Question 2 (5 MARKS)

Text 2 – Feature article extract  – The Idea of Welcome by Sophie Dahl

This question asked how the writer used her personal experience to show the reader the importance of kindness.

  • In your response you must identify the experiences of kindness and why they were important in Dahl’s life
  • Then you must concisely analyse four examples from the text 

Dahl demonstrates how being ‘welcomed’ throughout life is a kindness that makes an individual feel safe and recognised despite differences or reluctance. Employing a personal anecdote, “When I was three years old, I experienced the definition of a welcome”, Dahl conveys how kindness was a feature in her formative years, and took the shape of an open invitation to visit her neighbours “as often as I liked”. Through this story of eating “deep fat fryer chips” at her neighbour’s house, Dahl demonstrates with humour the connections generosity can create because as an adult now far away from those neighbours she still holds that memory dear. Dahl marks the presence of openness at different stages of her life, recounting with metaphor when she experienced it as a “furious, spiky teenager”. Her friend’s mother “plied me with welcome, until I softened.” The metaphor of welcome acting as a physical force to take away anger and reluctance to trust, demonstrates the power of welcome as a kind act that can have immense results. Through the connotations of the unfamiliar in “strangers” at a friend’s wedding contrasted with the simile of “it felt like coming home”, Dahl communicates how inclusiveness can bridge the gap between strangers and create strong feelings of connection very quickly. Thus Dahl communicates that warm open welcomes are an act of kindness, and can connect individuals despite unlikely circumstances, reluctance or unfamiliarity. 

Other answers could include: 

  • How kindness lasts in an individual’s memories and shapes their lives 
  • How kindness is a way to see people as they truly are 

Question 3 (3 marks)

Text 3 – Prose extract – We Come With This Place by Debra Dank

This question asked why Dank preferred “that gravel and dust comfort, away from that other place?”

  • Your response should identify why the individual prefers their home over the unfamiliar landscape of the beach. 
  • It should then analyse succinctly two examples from the prose extract.


“We Come With This Place” explores how a physically and spiritually unfamiliar landscape can be uncomfortable and overwhelming in contrast to one’s home. Visiting the ocean for the first time, Dank illustrates with auditory imagery how the unfamiliar environment “made dry, almost humming noises that were strange in my ears.” The uncomfortable feelings that arise when the individual does not know a place physically but also spiritually, is conveyed by their references to their heart and soul, “its noise became grinding reverberations, discordant* with the rhythm of my goodalu** and of my kujiga.” The negative connotations of “grinding” and “discordant”, emphasise how they do not understand this new landscape as it is not connected to them. Thus they prefer the “gravel and dust”, the tactile imagery representing their familiar desert home. 

Other answers could include: 

  • The value of home as the persona can understand it fully through the power of cultural stories 
  • The changing relationship with a new landscape but home always remaining a constant comfort 

Question 4 (4 MARKS)

Text 4 – Memoir extract – Ciao Bella! By Kate Langbroek

This question asked students to analyse the text’s representation of the emotional impact of new places.

  • Your response should identify what the “emotional impact” of the new place is and how it has affected the individual. 
  • You should then succinctly analyse three examples from the memoir. 


Langbroek’s memoir illuminates the power of a country to evoke lasting positive feelings in an individual, not only about the place but also about themselves. With high modality language, “We have no idea of the way in which it will open up to us, and us to it”, Langbroek explores how each destination will have a different impact on the individual that cannot preempted, heightening its power, however emphasising through the collective pronoun “we” how everyone can be changed by experience of a new place. The personal experience the author captures is falling in love with Italy; “Falling in love with a country is like falling in love with a person.” Through the simile that is extended by references to “a few dates” and “dinner”, the persona captures the feelings of excitement and newness that the new destination of Italy conjured for her. She extends this by illuminating that the impact of new places is a shift in self perception, that falling in love (with a country or person) “is about how they make you feel about yourself.” Thus with the direct address of “you”, Langbroek makes her personal experience relatable to all audience members, reminding us that new places can fill us with excitement and shift our self perception. 

Other answers could include: 

  • The excitement of a new destination despite the seeming cliches of it 
  • The unexpected nature of emotion evoked by a new place 

Question 5 (4 MARKS)

Text 5 – Feature article extract – Buy Experiences, Not Things by James Hamblin

This question asked students how the author expands the reader’s understanding of the paradoxes of consumerism.

  • Your response should identify what the paradoxes are and how the author unpacks them
  • You should then succinctly analyse three examples from the feature article. 


The feature article exposes how consumerism has established a paradoxical relationship between what we buy and the happiness it provides us. Hamblin elucidates that experiences, counter to common logic, are more conducive to happiness through referencing expert Amit Kumar who states experiences provide “more enduring happiness”. This reference establishes credibility and supports an idea counter to consumerism’s main claim: that buying things will result in contentment. Hamblin expands on this, “Actually most of us have a pretty intense capacity for tolerance, or hedonic adaptation*”. With collective pronouns, he illustrates the collective experience of how material things, “Phones, clothes, couches,” become normalised and thus less exciting, supporting this claim with the jargon of “hedonic adaptation” that gives it scientific merit. In contrast, the changeability of experiential moments,“Even a bad experience becomes a good story”, juxtaposition of “bad” and “good” emphasising how over time an experiential moment can become satisfying, reveals the paradox that although something does not last ‘forever’ it can provide more sustained enjoyment. Thus, Hamblin counters the cultural paradigm that consumerism pushes, by revealing the anomaly that material things do not provide the greatest happiness. 

Other answers could include: 

  • The paradox that consumerism purports to want our happiness but is a system designed to have us wanting more 
  • The importance of time and transience that influences our enjoyment counter to consumerism 

Ready to ace next year’s exams again? Get the head start you need with Dymocks Tutoring! Enrol today and start your journey to success.

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