The school holidays will soon be upon us, meaning you will have lots of free time to catch up on your notes and maximise your knowledge in preparation for the HSC. But you’re probably wondering, what can I do with all this spare time? How much should I be studying? Am I allowed to have fun? It may sound like a lot, but studying that extra bit during the holidays may propel your understanding of the syllabus. Here are 5 study tips on how to use your HSC holidays wisely.
Catch up on all your notes
During each term of the school calendar, I found that it was quite challenging to keep up to date with all my notes for the course content, while also focussing on studying for exams and completing assignments. Therefore it is vital to catch up on all your course notes during this break and consolidate your knowledge for what you have learnt throughout the term. Spending a few hours note-taking during your holidays will place you in the position to reinforce your knowledge and may even provide the opportunity to go ahead with course content and prepare you for the next term.
Cramming to complete notes a few weeks or even days before the HSC, will create unnecessary stress and will impede on your opportunity to complete past papers. To find which way of making notes works for you, whether that is handwritten with colour, or typed with images and tables, each person learns differently.
Complete past papers
You may constantly be hearing from your teachers at school that completing past papers is the most effective way of studying. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. There is no better indication of what you will be asked in the HSC than what is put in past papers. So once you have caught up on your notes, you must begin to apply this knowledge to past papers. This does not mean completing the entire paper, but it can include completing multiple-choice, or simply planning what you would write for an essay question.
It is never “too early” to complete past papers. I found that after completing a few papers, you begin to find trends in the questions and realise that across the various years, the same questions are being asked but are worded slightly differently. I recommend visiting the AceHSC resource database to access past HSC trial papers and notes.
Understand your syllabus
During my schooling, one of my teachers referred to the syllabus as “your personal Bible”. A metaphor that may sound ridiculous at first is in fact true. The syllabus contains all the course content each student should know and provides a guide on the key areas and topics that may be placed in your HSC. I suggest printing a copy of the syllabus and after reading through it, a mark which areas of knowledge you are comfortable with understanding, and which you need more practise in. A tip my chemistry teacher gave was highlighting the comfortable course content in green, your moderate knowledge in orange and your needing improvement sections in red. By doing this, you have a visual indication of which key areas you should be focussing your practise on and this will place you in a position for no surprises during the HSC.
Begin Planning Drafts
If you are taking any “essay-driven” subjects such as English, Business Studies, Legal Studies, Economics or Studies of Religion etc. it may appear like there are a hundred possibilities of essay questions you may be asked. Many students find these sections the most daunting moments of the exam as you are feeling unprepared to write over 800 words and do not want to “mess-up” the largest weighted section of your exam. By simply planning a draft during the holidays, you have more time to consider how you would structure an essay and find any relevant quotations, statistics and examples. I found this tip highly helpful during my own HSC, where I was able to break down my ideas into simple dot points and this allowed me to have a solid understanding of each of the possible essay questions.
Take a Break
While the HSC may be stressful to all students as you are constantly being pressured to study, a final tip which I suggest is finding the time for a break. You may consistently hear of students who “burnt-out” during the year and once it came to the HSC, they underperformed from their normal abilities. By finding the balance between your studying methods and your personal time, you are still able to watch Netflix, use the PlayStation and spend time with friends. You may even consider constructing a study planner to help you adhere to this balance. Taking your mind off HSC work for a few hours will allow you to be refreshed and more motivated for the next time you study, keeping in mind your end goals for the year.
With this being said, seeking the balance between a work-driven holiday and an opportunity for rest after approximately 10 weeks of schooling is fundamental in motivating you to do well in the HSC. By following the above 5 tips, you will avoid cramming knowledge in the last moments of the year and be situated in a position to achieve your HSC goals.