How to write a Band 6 Module B Critical Study of Literature essay

If you're looking to write a kick-ass Mod B Essay for the HSC you're in the right place. Let us show you exactly what those pesky markers are looking for in a band 6 mod B essay.

2 months ago   •   5 min read

By KIS academics
Photo by Syd Wachs / Unsplash

Rubric Breakdown

In Mod B you are focusing your efforts on one big and pretty challenging text (or in the case of T.S Eliot, several confusing poems but still think of it as one body of work). This is where, in my opinion, Advanced English really distinguishes itself from standard.

In Mod B, you are exploring a body of literature that confronts the complex nature of humanity and continuously challenges pre-existing notions in society. And these texts do this by presenting abstract or obscure ideas that contain substantial ambiguity - enough to provoke thought and reflection in the reader.

So in summary, your job here is to deconstruct a text that past literary critics have viewed to be 'revolutionary' and explain how its style, structure and content have made it become such a significant text still studied today.

Things you must consider in your essay

Because you are studying the text 'critically' you are expected to have extensive knowledge about how every part of this text contributes to its meaning. While you should be doing this in every module, it's particularly important that you study up on these dot points and refer to them in your essay.

  • Context
  • Textual Integrity & Significance
  • Form and Structure
  • Style and Use of Language Techniques

You should already be familiar with context; it is that setting, time or culture in which text is brought about. It is what motivates a text to be constructed and what ultimately decides how the text is presented.

To write a good Mod B essay, you need to understand why the text was created. For example, in simple terms, T.S Eliot was angry at the existential state of society during the 20th century and wanted to reinvent the way people perceived religion, death and existence. And once you understand their motivations, you can better understand the construction of their text.

Textual Integrity - Mod B's favourite term

NESA describes textual integrity as 'the unity of a text; its coherent use of form and language to produce an integrated whole in terms of meaning and value.' In simple terms, a text has textual integrity if all the different features of a text (structure, language, tone, etc) come together to convey a strong coherent message relevant to its audience.

Significance

This one is a little more straightforward. Is your text universally relevant to the modern audience and has it made a profound impact on society?

Generally, you won't have to worry about whether you've discussed textual integrity or significance or not because most if not all Mod B essay questions will be asking you if your text has Textual Integrity or Significance (in their roundabout way of course) and your job will be to prove that they do. Scroll down to see 2023's essay question breakdown for the proof.

Unique Interpretation

Markers will be flipping through hundreds of essays all on the same text. It is crucial that you can form your own interpretation of the text and not produce an argument that can be found on cliff notes and Litcharts.

Now this doesn't mean that you need to have an obscure interpretation of the text - but make sure it's not surface-level.

To do this you are going to have to do research! As implied by the name, the module "Critical Study of Literature" is going to require you to read up on some Academic articles and see how critics have viewed the piece. Given that 90% of your cohort will be relying on LitChart summaries, this will give you the band 6 edge you need. A good website to use is JSTOR. Ensure that you read multiple articles to encompass a wide variety of perspectives and opinions before forming your own argument or interpretation.

2023 HSC English Essay Question Breakdown

"Evaluate how your personal and intellectual engagement with your prescribed text has been intensified by its construction."

Like I said earlier, your Mod B question will be asking you about the prescribed text's significance and textual integrity... just in a not-so-obvious way. So how do we approach this band 6 style?

In your thesis statement you need to answer two sub-questions;

  • What is your personal or intellectual takeaway from your prescribed text (How has reading the text impacted your perception of humanity, existence or society),
  • And, how was this intensified by the form, structure, register and stylistic devices used in the text?

This question really forces you to have a personal interpretation and extensive understanding of the text's textual integrity.

Thesis example:

"Intellectual engagement with TS Eliot's modernist oeuvre was intensified by its fragmented and abstract construction, forcing his readers into a personalised introspective journey that exposed the timeless importance of individuality in shaping existential meaning."

The thesis statement focuses on answering the question while also subtly referencing textual integrity and significance. It outlines what the engagement was, an introspective journey, and how it was intensified by the text's modernist construction (its textual integrity) AND it emphasises the text's engagement is one that is timeless (a.k.a significant).

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What should you start doing as you study Mod B

  1. Build study notes early and clarify your ideas as you go.
  2. Have an extensive understanding of the text's context - What motivated the composer to construct the text? What was their opinion on the current state of society and what did they want to see changed?
  3. Expand your understanding by reading academic articles and discussing your opinions with your peers and teachers.  
  4. Construct a quote table with an in-depth analysis of the techniques and stylistic devices used by the composer. Ensure to discuss why the composer wanted to use such devices and what was its impact on the overall meaning of the text.
  5. Edit, Edit, Edit - for a band 6 Mod B essay you will need a super refined and extensive base essay (one that you can adapt going into the exam). You're first Mod B draft will be messy so ensure you've given yourself plenty of time to receive feedback to polish it off.
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FAQs

How many paragraphs are in an HSC Module B essay?

Module B essays normally follow the structure of; an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. For T.S Eliot, it is advised to do three paragraphs, either doing three poems with a paragraph for each or two poems with paragraphs being, poem 1, poem 2 and last one both poems together.

How long is a band 6 HSC essay?

In your exam, you should be aiming for about 6+ handwritten pages (1000 words) for a Band 6-worthy essay however there is no strict guideline - you will be marked based on the quality of your essay content, not its quantity.


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