Step 1: Understand what the syllabus requires
To get a Band 6 you need to understand the syllabus. The syllabus tells you what the markers are expecting. You can access the HSC Business Studies syllabus here. Of particular interest is the NESA description of the Bands. A Band 6 response:
  •  demonstrates comprehensive knowledge and understanding of business functions and operations 
  •  critically analyses the nature, role and structure of business
  • evaluates the effectiveness of management responses to internal and external influences that affect business
  • interprets and applies specific numerical data to analyse and solve business problems and predict future trends
  • synthesises contemporary business issues when evaluating management responses and strategies
  • clearly communicates using business terminology, concepts and comprehensive case studies in a variety of appropriate formats

Step 2: Understand what the question is asking
The words used in the question are very important. It is expected that you know what those words mean. Each question will have an operative word which will tell you exactly what the markers are looking for. The operative word will be drawn from the NESA Glossary of Key Words. 

You need to understand exactly what the key words mean. Let’s use an example. The word “evaluate” means “make a judgment based on criteria; determine the value of”. To properly answer an evaluative question you will need to:
  • Define the key terms
  •  Identify the topic areas that are addressed by the question
  •  Identify the thematic issues that apply to topic areas
  •  Explore how the stimulus material given to you applies to the content of the course
  • Bring content and application together to form a coherent understanding of the business case
  •  Apply your understanding to form and express a clear view of the situation described in the stimulus
  • Provide recommendations, using business terminology, as to how to address the issue raised in the stimulus. The recommendations should recognise alternate options and explain why the suggested approach has been taken in favour of the alternatives

Step 3: Plan your response
Exams are stressful. It is tempting, given time pressure, to simply get ‘stuck into’ the question. This is the wrong approach. A Band 6 response:

Presents a sustained, logical and cohesive business report integrating relevant business terminology and concepts

Source: NESA 2018 HSC Business Studies Marking Guide

For something to be “sustained, logical and cohesive” it must be planned. That’s how you ensure that you not only address the question but ensure the response progresses in a logical manner. Using the syllabus content for structure and order can assist in making structure.

You do not need to develop a detailed plan. Two of my favourite techniques don’t take long at all. These techniques are:
  1. Write a scaffold which outlines the structure
  2.  Mind map the issues arising from the question

Step 4: know how to write a Business Report
I know - seems obvious, doesn’t it? It is critical that you know the format of a business report. Whilst there is variation, the general structure is as follows:

1  Executive Summary
a.    This is around 10 - 15% of your word count
b.    It directly links the stimulus to the course content
c.    It outlines, briefly, the responses that you will give in the body of the report

2.    Body
a.    In this section you explore the dot points you have identified in the Executive Summary
b.    Whilst you are not writing an essay, and so have more flexibility in structure, you should be using a DPEEL approach in responding:
  • Define: where necessary, the key concept for the paragraph
  • Point: identify the key point you are making
  • Explain: give additional support to your key point
  • Example/Evidence: where possible, support the point you are making
  • Link: link the current paragraph to the following one where possible

3.    Recommendations / Conclusion
a.    Recap the position of the business
b.    Summarise your recommendations
c.    Identify how the recommendations will affect the business

Step 5: Practice
There is no substitute for practice. With a well structured study plan you should be able to write one extended response a week. This can be alternated between business reports (Section III) and the Section IV extended response questions. The response should be practised in exam conditions. This means closed book and in accordance with the time limit. 

Once you have completed a response you need to get feedback. Feedback is the only way to improve. If you have a peer that understands the course well, use them. Where you don’t, see if your teacher can assist. If none of these are possible, tutors can assist in reviewing responses.

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Potentia Tutoring has experts in Business Studies. Our Head of Business Studies is Mohan Dhall. Mohan is a recognised authority in HSC Business Studies. He has written numerous texts on the topic and tutored countless students. Other tutors in our business studies team include tutors with Masters in Business Administration as well as previous HSC High Achievers.

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