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Author Topic: Cracking the Hard Nut: A Guide to Long Responses  (Read 3782 times)  Share 

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Cracking the Hard Nut: A Guide to Long Responses
« on: January 29, 2019, 11:02:28 am »
The long response sections in Food Tech are often the most dreaded part of the exam. It can feel like you are walking on eggshells. There is so much to write, but where do you start? What do you need to include? How do you impress the markers?

Hopefully this guide will provide some answers to some of the above questions, and any questions you may have of your own. Here’s some tips and components to address in your responses.

Expected Length:

According to the NESA Assessment and Reporting Guide for Food Tech, the expected length for Sections III and IV – the long responses – is 600 words each (~4 pages). This is the proposed amount of words needed to address the questions sufficiently, however, writing less or more is totally fine, if you have still answered the question as best as you can. I generally tended to write the full 4 pages, sometimes 5, as I am not the best at being concise. It will be different for everyone.


Food Tech isn’t an essay-writing subject, so having a full introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion is unnecessary. However, your structure is still important. Almost in all long response marking criteria is the phrase “presents a logical and cohesive response”. So, to get the top marks, you really need to have a structure that is clear and easy to read. How? Let’s use 2018 Q28 as an example:

Evaluate how ONE organisation within the Australian food industry influences individuals, society and the environment. (15 marks)

•   Start off with a topic sentence that addresses the question.
E.g. Sanitarium is an Australian-owned company in the Australian Food Industry that has greatly supported individuals, society and the environment.

•   Break the question up into points or logical chunks and use a paragraph for each.
E.g. For this question, you may have 1-2 paragraphs for each of the areas (individuals, society and the environment) the organisation influences.

•   Finish with a sentence that links it all together and revisits the question.
E.g. Through its activity and contributions to the Australian Food Industry, Sanitarium has had a tremendous role in influencing individuals, society and the environment.

Another effective way of adding structure to your response is linking words. These may include: similarly, also, furthermore, in addition to this, in contrast, in comparison, on the contrary etc. Adding these at the start of a new point or before an example helps with the flow of your response, and makes it easier for the markers to identify your points.

Key Verbs:

Spotting the key verb in the question and tailoring your response is crucial for maximising your marks. Sometimes you may alter the structure of your response so that it is a more logical answer to the key verb. In Food Tech, there are a few main verbs that keeping popping up year after year into the responses, so make sure you know how to nail these:

- Explain: Relate cause and effect; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how.
Suggested Structure: Logically, you would address the cause/why first, and then the effect/how after this, in separate paragraphs. Alternatively, if there are multiple issues to explain, you could have a paragraph explaining each.

- Analyse: Identify components and the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications. 
Suggested Structure: Small paragraphs for each component and refer to relationship between them at the end of each paragraph. A final paragraph at the end for implications.

- Evaluate: Make a judgement based on criteria; determine the value of.
Suggested Structure: make a clear judgement at the start (in the topic sentence), then use your body paragraphs to demonstrate this judgement by addressing the criteria you have assessed it against. You can make multiple judgements if this is more appropriate for the question.

- Discuss: Identify issues and provide points for and/or against.
Suggested Structure: This structure can be pretty loose. You may like to have 1 paragraph per point, or if you are doing “for and against”, you could integrate both sides into a paragraph to really emphasise that you are considering the question from each angle.


Planning is helpful to get the ball rolling and ensure that you answer all parts of the question. You have 30 minutes for each long response, so a 2-3 minute plan is definitely not going take up too much time. What to plan:
•   Response structure.
•   Brainstorm points.
•   Brainstorm examples.
•   Jot down any vocabulary that you might like to include.


Arguably one of the most important parts of long response. Examples should be:
•   Specific and detailed
•   Relevant to the point you are making
•   Accurate to the food industry

I would usually have at least 1 example for each point I am making, potentially more, depending on the type of question. For example, the HSC 2018 Q28, “Evaluate how ONE organisation within the Australian food industry influences individuals, society and the environment. (15 marks)”, I used 3-5 examples for each section, because it was a question oriented around our company case study.

Whereas for the 2014 15-marker, “Analyse the effect that drivers of food product development have had on the nutritional status of Australians”, 1-2 solid example for each driver of food product development would be more appropriate, as the question requires more analysis.


The long responses are a chance to show the markers how much you really know about a topic. “Using appropriate terminology” is a phrase that regularly pops up in the marking criteria. Here’s some examples of vocabulary that would be beneficial to use (if you don’t know these, it’s best to look them up!)

AFI: FSANZ, the levels of operation, ecologically sustainable production methods, biotechnology, difference between policy and legislation, advisory groups.
FM: raw materials, HACCP, microbes, difference between quality management, quality control and quality assurance, active packaging, sous vide.
FPD: macro- and micro-environments, SWOT, line extensions, me-too’s and new-to-the-world products, design brief, each of the 7 stages of FPD.
CNI: Malnutrition, overnutrition, undernutrition, active non-nutrients, nutritionally-modified foods, nutritional supplements, difference between allergy and intolerance.

Referring to the Syllabus:

Showing how your examples and points relate back to the syllabus is the icing on the cake. A great way to do this is by contemplating which of the 4 topics the question falls under, and what seems to be the recurring big idea of that topic in the syllabus. Then in your answer, you can show how your response relates to the big idea.

AFI: how each sector relies on the others and combines to form a stable and sustainable industry.
FM: producing a safe, high quality food supply.
FPD: developing optimum products that will best meet consumer satisfaction and needs.
CNI: addressing and counteracting nutrition issues.

Referring back to the syllabus often works well as part of the link sentence at the end of your response.

Multiple Topic Questions:

This type of question can seem very daunting, but here’s some quick ideas to attack them:
•   Integrate both topics into each of your paragraphs, to show that you are engaging with the question holistically.
•   Each example should be relevant to both topics.
•   Really emphasise the relationship between the two topics (whether it is cause-effect, mutual, positive, negative etc.)
•   Refer to the big ideas of both topics.

Some Final Words:

Stay calm! You have half an hour for each long response section, which is a fair bit of time, if you think about it. Definitely still practice some timed responses to make sure your timing is sweet. If you have finished the exam early, you can go back through and read your responses to ensure they make sense (and correct messy handwriting, if you’re anything like me  :) ).

You’ve got this!
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 11:04:12 am by kauac »
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