Preparation is the key to good results

As #CAFS NSW students begin to think about preparing for their HSC trials, it is timely to discuss what they can do to give the exams their best shot.

1. Know the syllabus

This goes without saying. Knowing the syllabus intimately is a key component to achieving good results in CAFS (and for any other subject for that matter). Successful CAFS students demonstrate a strong interconnectedness between concepts and their application of knowledge in their exam responses. It is because of this interconnection that students, with the guidance of their teachers should examine the relationship between the ‘Learn about’ and ‘Learn to’ objectives.

It is also essential to become familiar with the knowledge and understanding depicted in the CAFS performance descriptors, as well as the standards. It enables CAFS students to see what is expected for each of the descriptors and what they need to achieve to receive certain results in the course.

2. Understand and apply the Glossary of Key Words

In preparation for the both the trial and HSC, it is imperative for students to have knowledge of the interrelationship between CAFS concepts and the Glossary of Key Words (BOS, 2012). Students can find benefit from using scaffolds and word banks to plan for their answers. Students who are able to apply their understanding through the use of explanations and examples have a better chance at expressing relevant and clear responses to exam style questions, therefore meeting the marking criteria successfully.

An indication of how to respond and how much to write for a question is hinted by the Glossary of Key Words. Lines provided and marks allocated to each question also give the students an indication of how to approach each question. As a general rule of thumb, three lines are allocated to each mark. For example, if a question is worth six marks, it will often be allocated approximately eighteen lines.

Additionally, it is highly recommended that students become familiar with the meta language associated with each Glossary of Key Word common in CAFS. For example, if students are answering an assess or evaluate question they need to include a judgment which could be expressed as “therefore”, “from the evidence”, “this is significant”, “despite this” and so on.

3. Write using a structure

Students who achieve good results in CAFS demonstrate the ability to write in a clear and concise manner. There are many strategies that have been used by teachers to educate their students about structuring their responses.

Common writing structures include PEEL, TEEL, SEAL, SEEL and SEXY. As long as students have some sort of point/topic sentence they are using, an explanation of that point (and subsequent points), examples/evidence to support their answer and a link back to the question and/or wellbeing students are setting themselves up for success in CAFS.


It is always good practice for students to develop extensive examples and evidence that they are going to use to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in a question. It is all well and good to have good knowledge, but students need to develop the skills to apply their understanding. This step can be enhanced by students developing particular examples of this evidence beforehand.

For example, in the Groups in Context dot point investigate a current inequity issue faced by each group and propose strategies to address the issue students can investigate an inequity issue for the group during their coursework and develop strategies to address the issue before entering their trials and HSC.

Another example for the dot point in Parenting and Caring explore one example of how a parent or carer may challenge social influences and assess the impact this can have on their wellbeing students can develop an example about how parents or carers might challenge social influences and start to think about the impact this would have on their wellbeing.

4. Practise, practise, practise

This is probably one of the most crucial aspects of preparing for the trial and HSC exams. Students are strongly encouraged to answer a number of exam style questions under timed exam conditions with peer or teacher feedback. They can use past HSC questions and submit answers to their teacher or peers for marking.

With the support of their teachers, students are also encouraged to share success amongst their class by photocopying or sharing well written responses.

These tips, along with content knowledge will be explored in our CAFS HSC Enrichment sessions which have all been developed, reviewed and presented by highly experienced CAFS teachers.

We wish all CAFS teachers and their students success for the upcoming trial examinations. Good luck!




Yours in health and wellbeing,

Kelly Bell
Nagle College, Blacktown South
President of ACHPER NSW

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