Blog Post

Count down to the HSC – five hints to keep perspective

The first HSC exam is fast approaching and it’s important to ensure your final weeks of study are spent productively and efficiently, to maximise your results. The last few weeks before your exams can be used to refine your notes and identify any areas that need further review.

Below are some tips that I recommend to all students who are about to sit the HSC exam.

Maintain your routine

Having a strong routine that balances study and leisure time is important in the final weeks before the HSC. Students are usually tempted to change their routine once their classes have finished, preferring to stay up late and then sleeping in the next day. Although it may be tempting, I strongly discourage anyone from drastically changing their routine before sitting the HSC.

For the last couple of years you have been roughly getting up and going to school at the same time, so why change a pattern that your body is use to? Once classes have finished at your school, try and replicate the school day when you study. Get up at the same time every day, have set breaks and study times that you can follow, focus on two to three subjects a day and study in a quiet area that is free of distraction. By studying during the day you also create free time in the evening for yourself, to relax and avoid burning out from too much study.

Break your study into blocks

It’s really important that you reward you study time with free time, as students may be tempted to study for long periods which can be tiring and emotionally draining. I recommend that for every hour you study, take a 10 minute break. By breaking your study into blocks and clearly defining your break times you are less likely to get distracted or procrastinate.

Planning out your study time can also help motivate you. If you come across a topic which you really don’t enjoy, motivate yourself by affirming that you only have to look at the topic for an hour before you can have a break. If you are struggling to focus on your study and keep on getting distracted, change your study location. Go outside, find an alternative room or study at your local library.

Teach a subject to a friend

One of the most effective ways to learn and remember a topic is to actually teach it. Everyone has a preference for how they study, however the process of teaching a topic to someone else requires you to analysis a topic and then communicate it in a manner they will understand. This active approach to study is memorable because you are communicating the topic in your own words, which you are likely to remember.

During the final weeks, find a study partner for each subject. Split the topics of the subject between you and then take it in turns, teaching the topics to each other. If you can’t find a study partner, why not teach a subject to a family member or explain the topic to yourself in the mirror?

The night before your exams

The night before your HSC exams can be a night full of nerves. It is important that you get a good night’s sleep so that you don’t feel drowsy and are able to concentrate tomorrow. If you are following a regular routine, falling asleep should be easier.

Before going to bed, try and quieten your mind by mediating for 10 minutes and controlling your breathing. If you‘ve been lying awake for a while and you don’t think you can get to sleep, try getting up and studying for an hour before going back to bed and trying to fall asleep.

If you are planning on cramming before the exam, make sure you have set deadlines for when you have to go to bed. Some people find using flash cards or reading their notes out loud as a great way to do the final review before the exam.

After the exams

Sometimes the worst can happen when you sit your exams. There’s a section you can’t answer, you run out of time or it’s simply just a bad day. Although it may feel like the end of the world, remember that a lower than expected ATAR is not the end of the world. No matter what happened in the exams or during Year 12, there are always alternative ways to get into the university degree you want. Whether it’s by completing a UTS:INSEARCH diploma or transferring from another program, if you have a dream career, stick to it and look for the alternative way.

Rowan Kunz (Founder, Art of Smart Education )