Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
English 2018

Standard 93001

Part A: Commentary

Section A

Candidates generally seemed to understand both passages, although there was an unevenness in responses. Some candidates tended to concentrate their efforts on the prose passage and only minimally addressed the poem. Other candidates clearly did not understand the poem, and avoided discussion around it. Successful Scholarship candidates addressed both passages equally and were able to integrate their answer in a developed argument. Some candidates were able to reference the wider ramifications of the ideas in each text and showed a real competency in their textual knowledge and ability to critically evaluate the texts. Those who were prepared to compare and contrast provided insightful and original discussions.

Section B

The choice of question was paramount for candidates – some candidates attempted to answer a question with a pre-learned essay and tied themselves up in knots, particularly with regard to the novel question, which was multi-layered and required clarification and definition. Some questions were tackled in a simplistic way, particularly the television series and poetry questions, which sometimes led candidates towards almost trite and shallow answers. It is important that candidates enter the examination with an open mind and the ability to demonstrate critical thinking. Some candidates also approached the questions in a superficial manner, and just supplied information without an argument. It is imperative that candidates address all parts of the question and provide an argument for how and why a text compels, or how and why poetry is a game of hide and seek. There are still too many pre-learned essays, which do not yield good results. There was also a lack of unpacking of what the statement meant.

Candidates who actively engaged with the statement first and foremost, established what it meant to them and the parameters they would use, took a clear stance, had a clear understanding of the nature of the genre they chose and chose texts which would support their argument, generally did very well. Often this was clearly established in the introduction, leaving a clear path for the marker to follow.

Section C

The questions generated a wide range of responses, using a wide range of different text types. However, some candidates relied too heavily on work done through other standards, most notably Making Connections and Research, which somewhat limited their connection with the question and the level of personal response that candidates brought to the discussion. Particularly, the essays that drew heavily on literary theories often lacked a more than superficial understanding of the theories, as well as a lack of personal thought from the candidate.

Candidates need to be reminded that although any text can be used in a Scholarship answer, the level of critical thought and evaluation when discussing the texts needs to be at a Scholarship level – a regurgitation of a Year 11 text does not meet this criterion.


Candidates need to ensure that they answer all three parts of the examination equally – a rushed attempt at Section A, tacked on at the end often leads to an unsuccessful result. It is also important that students write as legibly as possible, and use an appropriate essay format with the correct spelling of the names of texts and authors.

Successful candidates were able to set up an argument in their introduction and develop the argument in a synthesised way.

Part B: Report on performance standard

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship with Outstanding Performance commonly:

  • wrote with flair and control, crafting their writing
  • mounted a holistic, sophisticated and thought-provoking argument. At times, these arguments disagreed with or challenged the statement made in the question
  • showed insight and intelligence in their answers
  • wrote with a distinct personal voice
  • synthesised throughout the examination, making links beyond the simple or literal ‘compare and contrast’
  • wrote about academically challenging texts and ideas
  • showed a breadth of knowledge about literature and the issues in literature
  • structured their responses with an overarching argument that built and developed as their essay progressed
  • maintained a high level of control and sophistication across all three sections of the examination.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • structured a coherent argument
  • demonstrated a good knowledge of texts
  • synthesised their discussion in Sections A and C
  • discussed ideas that were suitably sophisticated
  • used a range of evidence to support their discussion
  • answered all three sections evenly
  • drew conclusions, positioning the reader or viewer.

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • wrote essays that were lists of texts – one text per paragraph with very little to link them
  • failed to formulate any clear argument
  • ignored the question and just wrote everything that they knew about the text
  • wrote about multiple texts that were too simplistic and did not allow for any depth of discussion
  • failed to complete the entire exam
  • were unable to synthesise texts
  • were unable to adequately understand the texts in Section A – especially tone
  • did not understand all the words in the question, but chose that question anyway and just tried to muddle through
  • focused entirely on language techniques in Section A, at the expense of any argument and ideas.

Subject page

Previous years’ reports

2017 (PDF, 53KB)
2016 (PDF, 201KB)

Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us