Past HSC and Practice Questions for Advanced Module B: Speeches

Here are the past HSC questions that have been used for the English Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Texts – Speeches, as well as some practice questions used by high schools etc.

So how should you use these questions?

  1. Write a essay according to one of these questions – if you have not already done an essay as part of a school assessment.
  2. If you have already written as essay – see if you can adapt it to all the questionsbelow.
    1. To do this – write an introduction/thesis specific to the question and then outline how your body paragraphs would be structured (if any differently).
    2. At the end of this exercise, you should have come up with say 3 alternative thesis that you can have ready in your mind and ready to adapt to whatever question you spring on you in the HSC!

I’ve also underlined the keywords in each question. As you’ll see, each question falls into a certain “type” of question:

  1. Question about the enduring power of the speeches (remain relevant over time)
  2. Question about relating speeches to particular audiences/contexts (read NOTE below)
  3. Question about rhetorical (speech) techniques and ideas in the speech

Can you figure out which category, each of the questions below fall into? Some may fall into more than 1 category.

What must generally be covered (no matter what the question is) in your response are:

  • What are the ideas and values expressed in the speech?
  • What techniques (rhetorical and language) are used?
  • How do the above 2 points relate to the speech’s original context, different contexts or continuing context (its continuing value over time). (read NOTE below)

So have a go! I will add to this list if I come across any more questions.

NOTE: the examination rubrics for 2009 onwards have changed for this Module B. To read how this affects your use of past HSC questions and future HSC questions, read this post.

Past HSC Questions:


Speeches aim to manipulate the audience through powerful rhetoric at the expense of substance.
To what extent does this statement align with your view of the speeches set for study?
In your response, you must make detailed reference to Speech to the Israeli Knesset and at least ONE other speech set for study.


How do speech writers highlight the significance of language and learning as a means of bringing about social change?
In your response, make detailed reference to On not winning the Nobel Prize and at least ONE other speech set for study.


Speeches have been described as ‘passionate and insightful responses to perceived injustices in the modern world’.
To what extent does this perspective align with your understanding of the speeches set for study?
In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO of the speeches set for study.


Explore how time and place are used in the prescribed speeches to shape the audience’s understanding of how knowledge of the past sheds light on the present. In your response, make detailed reference to at least TWO of the speeches set for study.


‘The speeches set for study continue to engage readers through its rhetorical treatment of human aspirations and beliefs.’

In light of your critical study, does this statement resonate with your own interpretation of these speeches?


Through their portrayal of human experience, the speeches you have studies reinforce the significance of justice.

To what extent does your interpretation of these speeches support this view?


In your view, how have rhetorical techniques been used to reveal memorable ideas in the speeches set for study?

Support your view with detailed reference to at least TWO of the speeches set for study.


Ultimately, in these speeches, it is the representation of deeply held ideals that captivates audiences.

Explore the representation of at least ONE deeply held ideal, evaluating its significance in at least TWO speeches prescribed for study.


To what extent has your personal response to the speeches been shaped by the enduring power of their intellectual and artistic qualities?

Support your evaluation with a close analysis of TWO speeches.


Your class has been exploring the question, “What will continue to make the selected speeches worthy of critical study?”

Your personal response has been challenged by another student. Defend your response through a critical evaluation of the selected speeches, analysing the construction, content and language of the text.

In your response, refer to THREE speeches you have studied.


Interpretations of texts can shift and change with time and place’.

Considering your time and place, reflect on the ways in which context has shaped your critical interpretation of the prescribed text.

In your response, refer to TWO speeches you have studied.


Compose an argument for or against the topic:  “That every text has its used-by-date”.

Consider your prescribed text’s ideas, language and form and its reception in different contexts.


Two people who value your prescribed text in different ways and for different reasons are having a conversation.

Compose their conversation which should include consideration of the structure, language and ideas of the text.

Questions used by school etc:

Idea based questions:

  1. To what extent has your personal response to your prescribed text been shaped by the enduring power of the ideas of the composer? (North Sydney Girls 2010 Trial)
  2. Speeches become valued over time when they explore challenging and enduring themes relevant to humanity. Do you agree? (St Ignatius Riverview 2010 Trial)
  3. It has been suggested that we value those speeches which examine the flaws in human societies. To what extent does your personal understanding agree with this view? In your response, you should critically analyse and evaluate the techniques, themes and structure of at least two speeches. (James Ruse 2010 Trial)

Rhetoric based questions:

  1. A text of timeless appeal is marked by effective construction of rhetoric to support its main ideas. Discuss this statement, making detailed reference to AT LEAST TWO speeches. (Baulkham Hills HS 2010 Trial)
  2. Anyone can have a good idea. Effective communication of ideas is an art form. Of the speeches selected for study, select two and offer an evaluation of their strengths as effective speeches. (Strathfield Girls 2010 Trial)
  3. How is your personal response to speeches shaped by a perception of the passion of the speaker? In your answer, refer to THREE of the speeches set for study. (CSSA 2009 Trial)

Personal response based questions:

  1. How has your analysis of the prescribed text developed your appreciation of its reception and value? In your answer, you MUST write about Noel Pearson’s “An Australian History for Us All” speech and at least one other speech. (Fort Street 2010 Trial)


  1. An effective speech successfully addresses a specific audience. Analyse two of the speeches you have studied, demonstrating how the speaker reveals a clear understanding of his or her audience. (ETA 2009 Trial)
  2. A key aspect of the prescribed speeches’ ongoing appeal is their writers’ use of meaningful structure. In your view, to what extent does the structure contribute to the appeal of the prescribed speeches?
  3. To what extent does the rhetoric used by a speaker reflect the values of the speaker and the social and cultural context in which he or she is speaking?
  4. How has considering other interpretations of the prescribed speeches helped you develop your own appreciation of the textual integrity of the speeches? In your response you should consider the ideas, language techniques and structure of at least TWO speeches prescribed for study. (Total Education 2009 Trial)
  5. A valuable text has something to say and says it well. How valid is this claim, considering the different contexts in which a text can be received? In your response compare your personal evaluation of two speeches with one other perspective on each speech. (ETA 2009 Trial)
  6. The value of great speeches is that they continue to speak to us. How do they do this? In your answer, refer to at least TWO speeches.
  7. Write a series of three or four reflections that demonstrate how your understanding of effective speech making changed and developed during the process of your critical study. Base your reflections on a detailed examination of TWO or THREE of the speeches from the prescribed list. (Independent 2009 Trial)
  8. “A text has value if it creates opportunities for change, while maintaining its core values.” Explore this notion in relation to your text set for study.

22 comments for “Past HSC and Practice Questions for Advanced Module B: Speeches

  1. monica
    July 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    hi..actually im not sure where the enquiries page is..but i was wondering if you have any resources on “representation and text” for julius caesar..and i also need assistance in searching for a related text, so do you have any suggestions?

    you’re help would be much appreciated.

    • tutortales
      July 25, 2009 at 11:34 pm

      Sorry, I don’t have any resources myself – but HSC Online is quite helpful (link) in showing how Julius Caesar works in Module C.

      For related texts, you can have a look at The Reader (about the Holocaust) or The Queen (about Queen Elizabeth II and the death of Diana).


  2. tee
    July 27, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    hey thanks for this great resource!
    i was wondering if you had any past paper questions thatve been modified for module B specifically on poetry?


    • tutortales
      July 30, 2009 at 1:11 pm

      Sorry, not as yet – I haven’t tutored poetry for Module B yet.


  3. bri
    October 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Hi there, when you write your essay do you have to have a link between your speeches?
    If so would type of ling eg a link between the ideas.
    Thanks for this awesome website 🙂

    • tutortales
      October 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm

      You’re welcome!

      Links aren’t necessary, but you will get higher marks if you have them – this is because your essay will sound more synthesised and it shows you’ve thought more about the speeches and their relation to each other.

      The types of links could be – similar/different purposes (eg. Keating and Deane), similar issues (Atwood and Kyi) or similar values (Keating and Deane).


  4. Monica
    October 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Just wondering… what exactly do ideas mean? I previously thought they were themes.. but apparently not…

    • tutortales
      October 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm

      Ideas and themes are very similar and usually used interchangeably. However, ideas tend to be much more sophisticated and are perhaps part of an argument. In contrast, themes are very general.

      For example, there is a theme of “love” in the text, but what is said ABOUT love (eg. love may be self-destructive and self-fulfilling) is an idea.


  5. Flip
    January 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    hi….. what is the difference between values and ideas?


    • tutortales
      January 18, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Hmmm from my understanding:
      – ideas refers to the idea/message that a composer is conveying
      – values refers to personal, cultural, religious etc ‘values’ that usually form part of the context which influences the composer.

      Hope that makes sense,


  6. Tom
    July 19, 2010 at 10:41 am


    Just wondering, how many speeches are we to know by heart? And what do you think the maximum no of speeches asked will be? Will they specify which speech?

    • tutortales
      July 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm

      I would say 2-3 maximum of speeches will be required. And they are highly unlikely to specify which speech in the question. But in case, you should read over and at least know a bit about each speech.


  7. Sarah
    August 10, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Hello! Thank you so much for your great site, it really does help! 🙂
    Just wondering for the speeches module, if you knew any past questions that specified which speeches to use? I’m hoping it doesnt come up, but just to be prepared….!

    • tutortales
      August 20, 2010 at 1:14 pm

      Hey Sarah – I’m not aware of any, so I highly doubt that the BOS would spring that on you. Nonetheless, you could probably just read over all the speeches (if you have the time).


  8. :D
    October 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm


    i was just wondering if “national identity” and “the role of women” we ASPECTS OF SOCIETY – if they’re not, could u please give me some examples cos i really dnot know

    thank you

  9. hihi
    August 5, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    sorry just wanted to know if our personal response to the speeches needs to be adressed extensively?

  10. Janet
    October 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    How likely is question going to specify to write about a specific speech? (on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most likely).

  11. lara
    October 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    for the 2013 what is meant by time and place?
    i know what to write about how the past sheds light on the present, but i’m not quite sure how to relate that to time and place?

    • admin
      October 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Time and place refers to the context of the speech. This may be the occasion/place of the speech, the socio-cultural and political context of the time, contextual references made by the speaker. TT

  12. Chris
    March 14, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    sorry just wanted to know how would you answer 2014’s speeches question with national identity? What exactly is the concept of national identity in regards to contributing to the enduring values of the text?

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