With the HSC Trials starting next month, now is the time to be getting serious about your study. While you definitely need a break to recharge your brain batteries, you can also use this time wisely to get ahead by getting your notes organised, honing in on your revision and brushing up on any areas you need extra support in.
While your HSC trials are worth 40% of your internal HSC mark, they are only worth 20% of your overall mark - so try to keep things in perspective. The reason you have trials is to practise for the real thing. Use this opportunity to practise studying, to get into good habits and focus in on where your strengths and weaknesses are, so you are well and truly ready to nail the final exams in October.
So, here are our top tips on how you can supercharge your study these school holidays.
Make a study plan
We cannot stress how important time management is when it comes to HSC exams. You’ve got multiple subjects to study for, and deadlines that are often very close together so you need to make sure you’ve got a plan and you're dedicating time exactly where its needed.
Create a study timetable, or download an existing template, and plot out all of your subjects and how much study you want to do per subject per week.
Having a visual plan allows you to see the balance between subjects, so you can schedule the time you need into the areas you need it most. For example, if you need to put in a bit more effort in maths, make sure you give yourself more time for that subject. If you need extra support in any area, be sure to also schedule in time to talk to someone about it, or have a session with a subject specialist.
Once you’ve got your plan, stick it up on your wall above where you study so you’re accountable. Put a copy of your exam schedule next to it too, as a reminder of key dates.
Stick your planner above your desk so it's visible while you're studying. Image: overcoming-procrastination.tumblr
Organise your notes
Study notes (unlike your class notes) need to summarise lots of information in a way that’s easy for you to reference when you need to, so they must be organised.
Subjects should be broken down into individual topics; topics should be arranged in logical order. The specific inclusions will depend on the subject and your personal needs. Your notes provide context - they take the things you learned in class and put them in the context of the whole topic you studied, so that you can easily see how they relate to each other, and how that topic, as a whole, functions.
How you organise your study notes is completely up to you. The main thing is that you do it in a way that feels right for you.
If you’re looking for ideas, one way of doing it is to get a folder that you can insert loose paper and plastic sleeves into. Create a section for each subject with dividers. Place loose leaf papers in each section, as well as plastic sleeves for any existing sheets of paper you already have. Always write your topic or sub-topic at the top of the sheet of paper, making it easier to track when you are revising. Keep a copy of your syllabus in a plastic sleeve at the front of each section, so you can refer to this as you work through your subjects.
A binder is a great way to arrange your study notes. Image: Pinterest |THE94
Take practice tests!
As part of your study plan, make sure you put some time aside to take past exam papers and practice tests. Knowing the sorts of questions you might be asked helps you to know what to study, and discover what you need to work on for the real thing.
For English, write essay plans for different questions. Essay plans keep the variety of content fresh in your mind, and as organising your thoughts and deciding on your response is a big chunk of your study, essay plans let you do really good study in a short amount of time. In fact, in exams you’re only going to spend five or so minutes on your plan, so learning to do them quickly is good practice.
Arrange study sessions with friends
While studying alone is important and, in theory, presents fewer distractions, group study sessions can be just as effective. Push each other to concentrate for a certain amount of time, say 45 minutes, before you have a tea/snack break. Go through the subjects you are studying together, and if there are areas you don’t understand, ask each other questions.
Test each other. Once you’ve had a block of study on one topic, see how much you’ve memorised by getting your friends to ask you questions about it.
Reward yourself and recharge your batteries
Year 12 is a hard slog, we know. So give yourself a break and take time to do some things you love. Get outside, see friends, go for a walk, play sport, drink hot chocolate, day dream about life after the HSC.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep! Memory and learning are consolidated during sleep, so while you’re getting forty winks, your brain will actually be laying down and cementing what you studied the day before.
Unforunately sleeping on your notes doesn't help them sink in. Get a proper sleep at night, it will give you th best chance of remembering what you learnt that day.
In her book The Teenage Brain, neuroscientist Dr Frances Jensen explains "Bedtime isn’t simply a way for the body to relax and recoup after a hard day working, studying or playing. It’s the glue that allows us not only to recollect our experiences but also to remember everything we’ve learned that day.”
Essentially the more you learn, the more you need to sleep, which is why a good sleep is critical in achieving success at school.
So these holidays, it’s essential you have a break and reward yourself. And it’s just as important to focus on your study, ahead of the HSC Trial exams. Study hard these holidays, and you will see the results pay off when it comes to the exams in July. Good luck and happy studying!
If you need extra study help or would like practice essays reviewed, connect with one of our expert Subject Specialists to boost your confidence before your exam.