How To Analyze Past Response Papers

How To Analyze Past Response Papers

A popular saying goes that the key to the future can be found in the past. I take this to mean that to know your future you have to realize and undo the mistakes in the past.


Unless you’re Superman, you probably can’t fly fast enough to change the rotation of the Earth and turn back time.


It’s a good thing however, that in education you don’t need to fly back in time to change the course of events. All you need are past response papers.


The value of past response papers lie in their ability to condition your mind, spirit and body for the grueling road to get your HSC. An endeavor of this magnitude requires you to raise your game higher. If you used to read notes, books, research online and seek consultation, guess what? These will not be enough.


Past papers replicate the same conditions for the HSC. With so much at stake, you need the ability to adapt to the rigors and stressors of the activity. The operative word is “condition”. Your mind, spirit and body should be acclimated to these conditions that it will be as easy as a duck shedding water off its back.


A good analogy would be a fighter training for his first title shot. The champion is the best guy he will ever fight and beating him would open new opportunities for fame and fortune. A win will not only make him champion but change his life as well.


The challenger would have to replicate the conditions of the fight. If it’s a 12 round fight, he will train for 12 hard rounds. If the champion is a slick boxer like Floyd Mayweather Jr., he will hire sparring partners who can emulate the style of the champ. Most importantly, he will try to convince the toughest past opponents of the champ to spar with him.


Past response papers can be past HSC papers, independent trial papers or exams that are created by you or other third parties. There are companies that create these types of exams for students to work on. I would suggest acquiring their services because the people who run these companies came from the academe and have high HSC. They know exactly how to craft these past response papers.


How should you approach and analyze these past response papers?

1. Go all the way

Preparing for the HSC requires through planning and execution. In the same way that you cannot train for a 12 round fight by sparring for only 6 rounds, when taking past papers, you have to take them in their entirety.


Answer each and every question from the easiest to the most brain numbing ones. Again, I reiterate the importance of conditioning in this exercise. Getting through the HSC exams depends largely on how you pace yourself. A big part of it is strategy.


In a long drawn out fight you would not want to expend yourself in the first round when there are 11 more rounds to go. And if you get too tired or worn out, the test may knock you out by the middle rounds.


The test will be a struggle. You will have your moments of difficulty and respite. There are times where you‘ll think “it’s in the bag” then a few sections later you’ll feel like you fumbled.


Go through the process as often as you can. By the time test day rolls around, it will be much easier.

2. Replicate the conditions

Generally tests are taken under these conditions:


  • No notes
  • No devices
  • No breaks
  • Exams are timed


So when taking these past response papers, do so under these same conditions.


Set aside all your notes. Pack away all devices. Have a good, healthy breakfast. Go to the bathroom before the test starts.


And time yourself in every exam.


When you factor in time, it changes the equation during practice. Time adds a variable that increases the pressure of the situation. Time throws a monkey wrench in strategy because you cannot and should never expect tests to be the same. The levels of difficulty will be different.


Time yourself in two ways:


  • Per test section
  • For the entire test


Let’s make it interesting. Invest in a digital countdown timer. Buy the one with a large enough screen that the number will be bright and visible. It’s better to know how much time you have because it increases the pressure to finish a section.

3. Mark your tests

When the tests have been completed, the next step is to check how you did.


Download a copy of the marking criteria at the BOSTES website. Review your tests and give yourself the corresponding marks.


This is how you will know how far have to go before pronouncing yourself in championship condition.


Evaluate the results and note down the mistakes you made, the answers that you missed and the sections you failed or scored poorly.


Past response papers are the most critical component of your HSC preparation. These are difficult and will grind you to pieces. But they will determine whether you will get a high HSC rating or not. Past response papers are valuable treasure that when used properly will enrich your future.

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