The HSC Trials and burning out

It’s the time of year when the HSC Trials are held across New South Wales, and like every year, it’s the time when 17 and 18 year olds across the state unknowingly burn out, for possibly the first, if not the worst, time in their life.

As a travelling English tutor, I see the stress kids face every day, from personal friends, family members and students who would do next to anything to get the ATAR that will lead them to their dream course. I remember being in the same place, spending every night studying, worrying about if I will be good enough, or if the past 12 years will be a waste. It’s a terrible thought process to get stuck into, and oftentimes you can’t get out on your own. Unlike so many kids I see today, I remembered to take breaks.

There are countless pages online about how to achieve top marks, how to write a proper essay, how to impress your HSC marker – but scarcely few on how to take care of yourself. It’s important to take care of yourself. No matter how much you study, it will mean nothing if you’ve burnt yourself out and wake up on the exam day tired, lethargic and dehydrated.

Need some help on where to start?

Don’t stare at screens for too long! Break it up, go for a walk outside when you realise “hey, I’ve been sitting on my laptop for 3 hours now,” not only will it help your eyesight, but it will help your posture and get your blood pumping again!

Eat well! As tempting as it is to reach for the closest packet of chips, or go for a maccas run if you absolutely can’t be bothered by anything else, it’s better if you don’t! Try to keep your diet as balanced as possible, making sure you’re eating plenty of veggies and fruit. The fruit will help you stay awake and alert with natural sugars while the veggies will make sure everything is running smoothly!

Talk it out. The most common thing I am seeing lately is kids being completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of HSC study, they begin to implode. You’re surrounded by people who have done this already, and people in exactly the same boat as you right now. Talk about how you feel, find someone to vent to or someone to laugh with about it all. Storing up stress and negative emotions only does more harm than good.

Water is your best friend, and coffee/tea/coke should be treated with caution! I’m not suggesting to avoid your caffeinated beverages (I’m not a monster!), but enjoy them in moderation. Try not to have any after 4pm or you’ll risk staying awake until 2am leaving sleepless and poorly rested.

Make a study timetable, and try your best to stick to it. This will help not only your sleep and overall study but your time awareness skills will become a tangible things you will carry with you for the rest of your life. I don’t remember half the things I studied so hard for in Business and Legal studies, but I do know how to take care of my time better than most people I know.

Always remember, the HSC is not the be all and end all. A lot of people aren’t suited for university and there is nothing wrong with that, a lot of people will get jobs that haven’t even been existed yet, and if you don’t get into the dream degree you wanted there are other ways to get there aside from your ATAR.

Degrees change, wants and needs change, the world changes. It will keep changing, so don’t stop your life for this one tiny aspect of it. You’re so much more than the exams you are doing!

Good luck, study well!


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