Study Tips to maximise your HSC marks

| Last Updated: 30 January 2021 Study Tips to maximise your HSC marks  
Study Tips » Study Tips to maximise your HSC marks

Here are some study tips that I learnt when doing the HSC that really helped me get into the course I wanted to do. I know you would much rather be watching Netflix than studying… we have all been there. But here are some tips to make sure that you aren’t stressing when the HSC comes around. 

when to study

Start writing your summary notes NOW!

I can not stress this enough. Make sure that you read over the topics that you study in class and write notes about it. As soon as you learn a dot point for a subject you should be writing study notes for it that afternoon or sometime during the week. Do not leave your study notes to the last minute before trials or even before the HSC period.

This will give you unnecessary stress that can be completely avoided if you start as soon as possible. So then when trials and HSC come along, you will only be doing practise questions. By writing good and clear notes early, you will be less stressed for trials and HSC which is what you want.


Use your school library as much as possible.

Throughout Year 12, you should be using your school library to study as much as possible. By studying in your school library, you will be less distracted and less tempted to go on Netflix or Tiktok.

When I did my HSC, I used to come to school at 8am and study half an hour before homeroom. Although it wasn’t much, it gave me enough time to write some study notes or do my homework that was due that day. By doing this every day, I was able to stay on top of my study notes and have less stress when doing my trials and HSC. 

Practise Papers

You have probably heard this tip from all your teachers but I can not stress enough how important practise exams are. A lot of the time questions from past papers are used again in HSC exams. For example, the 2019 business studies exam essay question about operations was the same one done nearly four times. By doing practise papers, you are not only learning your content but you are also learning how to write in the styles in which the markers want.

You can also practise time management which is vital during the HSC. There is so much to do in so little time so getting a feel for what the exams look like really helps. When you are doing practise papers, try and leave the proper HSC past papers to do before the HSC and find trial papers to practise before trials. You can find trial papers from different schools on the AceHSC website. 

Studying in groups

Studying with your friends is a great way to study because it helps you gain a better understanding of all your topics. Studies show that when students help each other, they are more likely to do well in their exams.

When one friend doesn’t understand a dot point in the syllabus another friend will. For most of my subjects, myself and two other friends studied together and taught each other the syllabus. For example, I had a study group for business studies with my two closest friends and we all managed to get into the top 10 overall in our cohort.

We would also teach each other concepts right before the exams and sometimes they would end up being questions. 

group study

However, don’t form a study group with friends that you know will not keep you focused and on top of your work. Also, make sure it is not too big either, I recommend three or four people. 

Read the syllabus

The HSC will ONLY test you on the things listed in the syllabus and is where the majority of your questions will come from. Try and also memorise your syllabus. I know it sounds hard but try and come up with an acronym to help you. It can be as serious, funny, or as inappropriate as you want as long as you remember it in your HSC exams.

Especially subjects like CAFS and Business studies, a strong knowledge of the syllabus will really help you set yourself apart from the rest of your cohort and help you maximise your HSC results. Your syllabus for each subject will be your best friend in the HSC and what you will base your study notes around. You can simply find the syllabus by clicking here!

Using your teachers effectively.

If you are having trouble with any topic in any subject at school, do not hesitate to ask your teachers for help. At the end of the day, it’s their job. There was an entire topic that I was stuck within maths so every Thursday morning I would meet up with my maths teacher in the library and she would help me with the content.

Also, especially close to trials and HSC, send your teachers sample responses from past papers so they are able to give you feedback. A lot of teachers have been or are still HSC markers so they know what to look for and what will give you marks. 

Using numerous HSC resources.

There are hundreds of past student notes and resources ready to download for free with a click of a button. AceHSC is where I got all of my practise trial papers. You can also find notes that past students have made on the AceHSC website and those are really good to look at when needing extra bits of information for your notes.

If you are stuck for resources and do not mind spending money, then you should use Atomi. Atomi is a website that has short videos for each syllabus dot point for most subjects in the HSC. It explains concepts in a simple manner and is a great way to study.

They also provide videos on how to write responses that will give you full marks for your subjects. If your school doesn’t already have this resource, talk to your teacher about starting a free trial because it really helped myself and a lot of students during the HSC.

Try and avoid pulling all-nighters.

A big mistake that students do is pull all-nighters. Even during the HSC period, I did not study past seven at night. In fact, I never once pulled an all-nighter to study for an exam or finish my major project for design and technology.

I did this because I know that I am not productive at night as all I want to do is go to sleep. If you stay organised and on top of everything throughout the day, then you should not need to pull all-nighters. Studies show that when people pull all-nighters they do not tend to perform as well as those who stay on top of their study and get a good night sleep.

Follow my study tips and you will never have to pull an all-nighter. 


Your Turn
I know the HSC is a tough time and can be really stressful. By following these tips, you will be less stressed and do better than the people that pull all-nighters and do their notes at the last minute. If you have any questions please email me and I will get back to you as soon as possible. I wish you all the best this year and I hope all goes well.

i am rooting. for you.
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Isabella Thanos

Hi, I’m a university student studying a Bachelor of Computer Science at UTS. The subjects I did for the HSC were Advanced English, Mathematics, SOR 2, Business Studies and Design and technology. Feel free to message me if you have questions about the HSC. Connect with me @Facebook or @Linkedin