Today marks the 6 week countdown for the first day of HSC exams in NSW!
The time to study may feel like it’s over now that trial periods across the state are well and truly over – but the next 6 weeks will fly by. With graduation ceremonies, formals, class parties and no doubt friends turning 18 – the celebrations pour in.
If you’re looking to get into uni, or just do as well as you can in the HSC here are my top tips for surviving the next few weeks, based on questions I’m commonly asked and what I’ve learned watching past students of mine.
6 weeks out
Make sure you give yourself time to celebrate! It’s been a crazy year, and even more intense couple of weeks.
However, don’t let the fear of trial results consume you. Make sure you’re reading over your notes every day. Make a list of your ultimate goals for the HSC and prioritise your study. Creating a study timetable is always a good thing!
Start sticking up notes of things you struggle with around the house. My personal favourite places are:
Behind the toilet door for a quite minute of reading.
Next to the kettle for the litres of coffee you’re already consuming.
On the mirror for while you brush you teeth or get ready in the morning.
If someone drives you to school, their dashboard is your new best friend.
To the side of your computer so while waiting for someone to reply to you on Facebook you have something productive to read.
5 weeks out
Go over your trial papers and past assessments from the whole year.
Edit your own work – grade yourself. You will be surprised how much you have developed over the year! By seeing and understanding how you work under pressure, you can find your own weaknesses and work towards them.
Read over all your notes, make sure you’re keeping your writing speed steady and strong – so write! It doesn’t matter if it is school work or keeping a journal, or writing short stories for fun. Write.
4 weeks out
This is usually the week of your graduations – enjoy it!
Celebrate, take time with your friends, relax and PARTY! Give yourself this week to enjoy the fact that you’re finished! Well done!
If you must study, set aside and practice past HSC papers and have a go at handwriting your essays, then marking them yourself the following day.
3 weeks out
Time to get stuck in!
Try to condense all your study notes to be shorter and shorter. Eventually, a few words should be able to jog your memory for a whole paragraph in an essay. This can only be achieved by writing, writing and more writing. Summarise everything, and do this by hand. Computers give you the temptation to copy and paste, to delete. You need to write to learn and understand your own work.
Keep EVERYTHING. Buy a binder from Officeworks and store all your study notes. You will be surprised how much work you do when you can physically see it – a level of pride and satisfaction you don’t get with a computer.
2 weeks out
Replace the notes you put up 6 weeks out with smaller, condensed versions. Now you can fit more information up in less space.
Colour coding works wonders here to keep your work organised and jog your memory even more.
Now is crucial to balance your study and pleasure. Make sure you allocate time to see friends, eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Sleep.
Feeling tired? You’re probably exhausted, take a nap.
Mental block? Get your mobile and go for a walk to play Pokemon Go! Exercise increases brain function and productivity, so get moving!
1 week out
Read over everything.
Make sure you’re writing something every day to ensure you don’t get cramps during the exam (again, this can be as simple as copying your generic essays or notes you’ve made).
Test your memory using the guides you’ve got all over the house. A good tip is to make copies, and keep a few pages folded with everything you could need for subjects in your bag for on the go. Meeting friends somewhere? Read over your notes on the way. At a super boring family event? Get some study done.
Have a go at explaining a topic/subject/unit to someone who isn’t doing it (this works especially well for English, Religion, History, Legal and Business). If they can follow and understand what you’re saying, without you having to refer to you notes – well done! You know you’re stuff!
Continue to listen to your body – sleep, eat well, drink water and exercise when you can.
Through the exam period
WOOHOO! Only a few more hours of hard school work until you’re finished forever!
Make sure you prioritise your subjects based on your personal exam timetable.
Reward yourself after each day of exams – give yourself a few hours break before jumping into studying for the next one.
The HSC is without a doubt one of the most stressful times you will ever experience in your life. Don’t let anyone tell you they are just exams. While they are right in the literal sense, you have had friends, family, teachers and strangers work into your head about how much they matter.
To be honest – in the long run, they don’t. Short term, for some students they are a huge factor in deciding the next few years.
If you’re stressed, find someone to talk to (DM me on Twitter if you need! @emmerleener).
If you’re anxious, you’re not alone.
Just remember, it’s all almost over, and then the rest of your life gets to begin!
Congratulations, you’ve worked damn hard and deserve to celebrate!