Study Hacks for the HSC

Getting a high HSC mark isn’t everything, but if this is what you’re striving for, there are some key things to keep in mind to make sure you’re prepared as possible stepping into your HSC exams. I challenged myself in the HSC to get a 90+ ATAR and the following methods helped me achieve it - I hope you find something useful below.

1.Have a study schedule

This doesn’t need to be an hourly schedule you have to adhere to, I’d recommend splitting it by syllabus dot point or topic per subject.

For example, if you’re doing Advanced Mathematics, you might give yourself a week to cover Functions and Graphing Techniques. That way, you’re planning out how much time you’ll be spending on a certain topic per course and you can begin to break it down into daily schedules.

2. Achievable milestones & breaks

Studying to syllabus dot points is key, especially because it allows you to break apart a subject and topic into bite-sized, achievable milestones. Do 2 medium-length dot points and take a 20-minute break, or tackle a really difficult one and take a half hour break.

3. Give your weaker subjects some love

This goes hand in hand with the first point of having a study schedule. Chances are, there’s a subject or two that you’re more confident with than others. Plan out your study schedule with tackling a weaker subject first, followed by one you’re more confident in after. This way, you keep your morale up and make sure that you still feel like you’re making headway, even if it’s your “worst” subject.

4. Handwrite your notes

Typing is great to organise your notes right off the bat, but since the HSC is a written examination, get used to writing early. Your hand may cramp if it’s not used to gripping a pen and writing for hours on end. Train it now so you’re not suffering during your final exam.

5. Repetition & memory are key

This applies for all subjects, not just subjects where you need to know a lot of terminology or facts like the Humanities and Biology. Find what kind of memory-game or method works for you. I found that writing out my notes multiple times helped ingrain the knowledge into my head. Yes, it killed my hand, but it was better for it since I was able to memorise notes and train my hand at the same time. I probably re-wrote all of my notes for all of my subjects 7 times each.

6. Essays: Do the hard work now

This one is for the essay-heavy subjects like Advanced English, Humanities and Visual Arts. Prepare your essays now and get to know your examples that you might be using early. You can’t predict what the question will be, but you can assume based on past papers. Write different introductions that suit different questions and memorise your examples - chances are, you’ll be able to adapt it to a question on the final exam.

7. Try not to procrastinate

This is easier said than done but do your best to put aside solid time for you to study daily. If you know your phone or your environments are distracting, do something to change it. 90 minutes of solid, distraction-free study is a lot better than 3 hours of sitting there taking notes whilst blowing up the group chat. The more quality time you put into studying, the quicker you’ll be able to take breaks.

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