Ancient History

The knowledge and skills you need in order to do well in Ancient History fall into three categories. The first thing you need is topic knowledge, which is the actual material you will cover in class. The second is analytical skills, which is the ability to think (and argue) clearly about your topic knowledge. The third is essay technique, which is the ability to show both your topic knowledge and analytical skills in both assessments and the HSC exam.

Topic Knowledge

The most obvious thing you need to have in order to do well in Ancient History is a good knowledge of the topics taught in class. For example, if you are studying The Greek World 500-400 BCE, then you need to know all the relevant information about that period. Your class teacher should teach you this information. Remember that the key word here is relevant. You don’t need to know the name of Themistokles’ mother’s dog, but you really do need to know that Themistokles was a driving force behind the expansion of the Athenian navy between Marathon and Salamis. It is critically important that you know which primary and secondary sources are available for your topic, and know a fair bit about them (for example, if you are doing The Greek World 500-400 BCE, you should know who Herodotus, Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus are and the strengths and weaknesses of their primary accounts, as well as knowing what the important modern historians of the period think of them). If you are in doubt about what you should know, you can always consult the Ancient History Syllabus (available at the Board of Studies website).

Smart Moves HSC tutoring can help with your topic knowledge, give you a clear idea of what you need to know, and help you learn it!

Analytical Skills

If you just know a lot about the topics you are covering, but can’t effectively think and argue about them, you can’t do well at Ancient History. Analytical skills are what distinguishes the best from the rest in Ancient History; you need to be able to think about the things you know and make judgements about them. For example, if you are studying The Greek World 500-400 BCE, you might decide that you believe that the Athenians were more important than the Spartans in ensuring that the Greeks survived Xerxes’ invasion. You then need to know how to use evidence to justify your opinion and convince someone that you are right. This is the hardest skill to learn.

Smart Moves can help you develop your analytical skills to a high standard. This is the biggest difference between Band 4 and Bands 5 and 6. If you are serious about doing well in your HSC and aren’t confident that you have the analytical skills to do so, come in and we will help you develop these skills to a Band 6 standard. A great tutor can make all the difference – and Smart Moves has some of the best tutors you will find.

Essay Technique

What’s the use of having great knowledge and great analytical skills if you can’t show them in your essays and exams? Good essay technique means having a plan, having confidence and having discipline. Having an effective plan makes writing a good essay easy and fixes a number of common problems such as descending into narrative and running out of time. It puts a structure on your thoughts, and therefore lets you make your argument more convincing. It also gives you confidence, because you know what you are going to write in advance and therefore you don’t have to stress about what comes next while you are writing. If you still find exam essays too stressful, get overly nervous, or can’t concentrate, you need to practise the skills effectively so that over time you can build up your confidence. Practising effectively, sticking to your plan, and overcoming confidence issues takes discipline. Discipline is something you learn, but it is also a matter of choice: you need to decide to take a mature attitude about it before you can have it.

Smart Moves HSC tutoring will help you with your essay technique both for exam essays and take-home essays in Ancient History. Whether you have a particular problem with essay technique, or just want to improve your results, Smart Moves’ tutors can help you achieve the results you want.

Top 10 Exam Tips

Generally speaking, the top ten things you should keep in mind as you do your exam:

  • Exam tip #1: Make it easy for the marker.
  • Exam tip #2: Use a black pen.
  • Exam tip #3: Write on one side of the page only.
  • Exam tip #4: Try to avoid writing extra pieces in margins that are linked by asterisks, arrows, etc.
  • Exam tip #5: Read and follow all key instructions. For example, if you are asked to provide a title to a response, than make sure you do.
  • Exam tip #6: Write in the correct genre/form and sustain it throughout. For example, if you are asked to write a speech, make sure it is clearly a speech from beginning to end. If you are asked to write a letter, make sure it has a salutation and address at the start, reads like a letter throughout the response and has a farewell or something similar at the end.
  • Exam tip #7: Try, as much as you can, to write clearly and legibly. Perhaps leave a line between paragraphs. Don’t be afraid of white space – it makes reading easier.
  • Exam tip #8: Practice the key conventions that demonstrate mastery of English: the correct use of apostrophe, the correct title conventions (either underlining or using inverted commas), the full use of a text’s title at least once and the correct spelling of key character names and composer’s names (at least).
  • Exam tip #9: If you have time during the exam, quickly proofread your work and check the pages are in the right order and that as many mistakes as you can find are corrected. (Examiners understand you are under pressure and that this is a first draft but demonstration of control of the key conventions is the mark of a more sophisticated response).
  • Exam tip #10: You may also be required to write a more personal response, which includes your ability to demonstrate you have reflected personally on the effect of studying a particular module or area of study. Think through how to do this.

This exam advice is general in nature and may need to be adapted for different subjects.

Word of the Week – Antediluvian

Antediluvian: literally ‘before the deluge’, referring to the time outlined in the Old Testatment, before the flood – seeing any movies (Exodus: Gods and Kings) these holidays that refers to an antediluvian time?  Figuratively, anything very old: for example, one might refer to one’s grandparent as ‘antediluvian’ .