HSC Preparation: 5 Tips to get Ahead on Your HSC

Posted 2 years ago

There’s no denying the importance of your HSC.

Whether you’re aiming for a place at Harvard in 2022, medicine at the University of Melbourne or Bachelor of Combined Laws at Sydney University, your HSC marks will significantly influence the direction you take.

In order to prepare sufficiently, you can look to source HSC tutoring and support from expert HSC tutors, but the best way to improve your HSC score is to learn how to self-motivate yourself!

It can be intimidating but when it’s all over, you’ll look back on this period fondly and remember how hard you worked.

Sometimes, though, a little bit of structure is as good as a break. Organising your study for 10-14 units of HSC study is as hard as the study itself.

“How am I supposed to study anything at all when Advanced English has two papers?!”

These exclamations of desolation are far more common than you think, and it’s hard to know whether the work is worth it.

So here are a few tips to help with your HSC preparation.

Five things I’ve learnt from teaching hundreds of HSC students to help you prepare for your final years of high school:

1. Make sure you get organised early!

Hitting the snooze button on preparation is enticing, but it could mean you hit a wall early on in the year.

To put it less cryptically:

The earlier you start preparing for your HSC, the easier you will find it later in the year.

When someone comes out of the summer holidays and they’ve already finished a first draft of their Extension 2 English major work, they have just saved themselves countless hours of stress.

It may not have been a Hemingway masterpiece, but when I put the final full stop on an 8,000 word draft of my Ext 2 short story on January 12th, I celebrated knowing that at least one of my 13 units was under control.

It may have been only half way done, but the psychological impact of having it under control had immeasurable benefits for me.

It’s not just limited to Extension 2 English. Entering term 1 having read all of your English texts, revised last term’s Physics notes and developed a framework for your Visual Arts major work goes a long way in putting you one (or two) steps ahead of everyone else.

And remember, you're actually competing against your peers!

So there's no excuse to not:

  • Make a timeline for your internal assessments.
  • create a weekly timetable that has all of your after school activities and schedule in school work around it.
  • learn how to use your school diary ... properly.

Being organised will not only ensure you get everything that you need to do done, it will do wonders for your mind and halve your stress.

Early HSC preparation is key to HSC success.

2. Always learn from your mistakes.

One step backwards, ten step forwards.

That's how effective studying often works.

There’s a reason our teachers mark our essays and give them back to us.

The feedback teachers give is gold, and the amount of it that is totally ignored is crazy.

Knowing exactly what your weaknesses are, and what your weaknesses aren’t, lets you adapt your study schedule to suit those areas.

Do your introductory paragraphs need work? Write introductions per your teacher’s advice and ask them to mark them for you.

Did you get 10/15 for that Bio topic test because you couldn’t remember what the difference between renal dialysis and kidney dialysis is? Copy a table in from the textbook and then from memory.

Mistakes should never be feared.How else are we supposed to learn without facing our mistakes head on?

Embrace the opportunity to learn and take errors in your stride.

3. Seek help from others

There's abosultely no need to fly solo through your final year!

While at times it might seem like locking yourself in a room alone and burying your head in the books (or possibly sand) is the best approach to your HSC.

But that just ain't so:

No one expects you to take this journey by yourself.

It’s a long road, the HSC road, but there are people everywhere who will help you. I found a study buddy (someone I didn’t know very well) and every Wednesday afternoon went to the library with them. We quizzed each other, exchanged insights and read each other’s essays.

Having access to a second mind will open up your study to such an extent that you’ll wonder what you were doing before.

Teaching someone is also the fastest way to learn and build excellent interpersonal skills for post-HSC, according to a 2005 study.

The author, Claudio G. Cortese, writes,

“Teaching proved to be an important opportunity for recognizing one’s own ignorance and thereby rendering oneself open to the possibility of learning”.

Basically, explaining complicated concepts to someone who doesn't understand them will help you practice your grasp of the material and reveal areas for improvement.

You don’t have to do it alone - countless people are here to help you on your way.

4.Consider the HSC syllabi your shining light!

Why stumble around in the dark only to walk into a wall?

It’s no coincidence that all past English and History questions sound the same.

Why have I done so many essays on dictatorships in Germany and Italy for Modern?

It’s the first dot point under that option in the syllabus.

Why do they keep saying, “personal and political” while I study After the Bomb for Ext 1 English?

Because it’s straight out of the syllabus.

As much content as there is to cover in all of your HSC subjects, you can practically know the exam before you walk in.

If you read the syllabus.

It is well worth an hour or two of your time to download the syllabus and read through it.

Tip: If you’ve run out of questions to answer, ask your own ones by reading the syllabus and picking out key terms.

It’s so easy to dismiss it as jargon for your teacher to digest because you’re never going to be asked questions on it, but if someone told you, “I can give you every possible question they may ask you for Romanticism on one or two pages,” would you want to read it?

Yeah, I thought so!

5. Stay Active!

Escape the headspace of HSC by treating yourself to some TLC (Tender Loving Care).

There are countless studies that suggest a very strong link between ability to focus and the amount of exercise you do. The release of endorphins helps you focus and switches your mindset to make you more productive.

What's more, while the increased pressure on your timetable to get everything done forces you to stick to a schedule, your increased levels of fitness, believe it or not, make it easier to sit still.

At some schools, the 99.95 Dux of the year is also the best rower or runner or swimmer in the school. You don’t have to be the best at it, but getting one hour of structured exercise done a day goes a long way in keeping those grades up.

Play for school, join a club, find a friend who lives nearby and go for runs or swims together.

Staying active could be as much as swallowing your pride and going to that Fitness First Zumba class with the Brazilian trainer who winks at all the mums ...

No matter how much work you think you have, there is always enough time to get an hour of exercise in, especially with Pablo running your Zumba.

Believe you me, the benefits will speak for themselves.

Final Thoughts

Basically, start early.

Remember, the easiest way to win a marathon, or any race for that matter, is to get a head start on the other competitors - Year 12 is the same.

Start your HSC preparation early. Don't waste the Summer break. Get ahead.

Once you've got a head start, you just need to make sure you maintain a constant pace and stay on top.

Don't get caught napping.

Learning from your mistakes, seeking help, reading the syllabi and excercising are all strategies to help you maintain a consistent study regime and pace throughout the years of HSC.

Final tip:

Take the year bird by bird, otherwise it can seem like a big task and debilitate you!

Just take it day by day, week by week and make sure you stand by your study plan.

Follow these tips and you'll ace it!

Good luck, y'all.


Written by Crimson Education Co-Head of HSC and AU Consulting, Celso Milne.

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