Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
English 2019

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. Some candidates misread the title of Passage A and discussed it in terms of ‘meditation’ instead of ‘mediation’.

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 competence in their textual knowledge and ability to critically evaluate the texts. Those who were prepared to compare and contrast provided insightful and original discussions, but there needed to be evidence of synthesis.

Some candidates attempted to use technical terms that they clearly did not understand, which did not work in their favour.

Section B

The choice of question was paramount for candidates – some candidates attempted to answer a question with a pre-learned essay and were not very successful. Candidates also seemed to choose what they perceived were the ‘easier’ questions, particularly Questions 5 and 15, which led to some shallow, predictable answers. It is important that candidates enter the examination with an open mind and the ability to demonstrate critical thinking.

Some candidates approached the questions in a superficial manner, and supplied information without an argument. It is imperative that candidates address all parts of the question and provide an argument for “how and why short stories reward the philosopher”, or “how and why novels arm or disarm with equal ease”. 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.

The candidates who generally did very well:

  • 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
  • chose texts which would support their argument.

Often this was clearly established in the introduction, leaving a clear path for the marker to follow. This year, some candidates realised that the drama question could be answered using Shakespearean drama, as well as non-Shakespearean drama, and answered the question well. It is important that candidates read the questions carefully, as changes do happen that allow for more scope.

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 must 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, and that a regurgitation of a Year 11 text does not meet this criterion.


Candidates must 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 candidates write as legibly as possible, and use an appropriate essay format with the correct spelling of 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:

  • showed evidence of independent and original thought, often demonstrating more than what had been taught in class
  • established a strong thesis and argued this consistently throughout their response
  • synthesised information to a high level to develop a coherent argument
  • genuinely engaged with the statement, usually challenging it, and supporting ideas with well-chosen and explained examples / references
  • wrote with sophistication and maturity
  • had a strong sense of personal voice
  • did not rely on or attempt to regurgitate pre-learned essays.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • were consistent across all three sections
  • engaged with the statement, usually defining it in their introduction, clearly showing understanding of what it meant
  • wrote fluent responses with evidence of critical analysis
  • established a thesis and developed their argument throughout the response
  • had a sense of personal voice in their writing
  • demonstrated an acceptable level of synthesis, particularly in Sections A and C
  • finished all three sections of the examination
  • supported their ideas with specific and relevant examples / quotes
  • supported their analysis of texts in Section A by identifying language features, giving appropriate examples, and analysing their link to “moments of awareness”
  • in Section A, made relevant comments on and showed understanding of both Text A and Text B.

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • repeated their Connections report for Section C, without synthesising or referencing the question
  • did not engage with the statement, but rather repeated a pre-learned essay
  • did not understand the statement or ignored it
  • completed two sections well, but did not complete a third (usually Section A)
  • did not synthesise information
  • focused on using as many literary terms as possible; this did not serve a purpose but rather took away from the argument that they should have been developing
  • did not engage with the question and define it or show individual interpretation or thought about it
  • did not relate back to the question throughout their response
  • did not set up a strong thesis in relation to the question and therefore struggled to formulate an argument.

Subject page

Previous years’ reports

2018 (PDF, 85KB)

2017 (PDF, 53KB)

2016 (PDF, 201KB)

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