What to do a Month Before the HSC

Ugh, time to study again. Following the typical post trials slump where you end up burnt out from intense cramming for trials.
“Don’t let your marks define you!”
Ever heard that line before? Hate to break it to you but for most, your results are going to end up defining what happens in terms of university, TAFE, college or whatever at least for next year.
So, the typical question gets asked. What should I do a month before the HSC?

Here are 5 principles to help you maximise your HSC performance.

1. Self-Audit Your Performance

Following your trials, it’s important to review your performance after them. Trials are exactly what they are named after, trials. Your Trial exams are the most accurate representation of how you’re going to perform in the HSC purely because their down in an exam hall and in exam conditions.

So dust off those exam responses and start reviewing.
A couple questions to start off with when reviewing your exam performance:

  1. Your understanding on the syllabus and content at the time of your trials and now. What has changed? What have you learnt? Any new topics covered?
  2. How was your time management and study techniques up to trials? During The trial period?
  3. What did you do the night before and morning of the exam?
  4. How do you think you could have improved your exam preparation?
  5. How was your exam technique? Did you freak out, mind blanks etc?
  6. How were your results, happy, not happy terrible?

Basically what you want to do is list down things that you did for trials and what you could have done better. Answer the questions above you’ll have more than enough information to start with.

2. Calculate Marks Achieved So Far and What you Need

The second step to reviewing your trial performance is to calculate your final internal marks.

Calculate your internal marks by multiplying your individual exam marks and weighting of each assessment. For a detailed explanation refer to How to Recover from Bad Marks

If you’ve read The Truth about ATAR Calculators you’ll know that your final HSC mark is subject to many manipulations, however, you can set the internal mark you’ve calculated to 50% of your final mark.

Now, set your target HSC mark for each subject. Then take this number and – 50% of your internal marks from this. Now you have your target external HSC mark.

For example, my internal mark is 88% and my goal HSC mark is 92. So 92 – 44 = 48. That means that I need an external HSC mark of 96 in order to reach my target.

Once you’ve done this you can use a ATAR calculator (with caution) to calculate the ATAR you are predicted to get. Adjust your goals in accordance to this. If your estimate is too low increase the goals for certain subjects.

3. Create a Chart

Now, using the goals that you’ve set as well as the stuff you wrote down in part 1 we can now create a plan for the final month to your HSC.

Why do we need to plan?

In order to have a fully focused approach to your HSC, you need to create some method of remembering all the things you have to do before the HSC. Hence creating a list/chart of some kind to post/sync to your wall or phone is crucial to making sure you achieve your goals.

If you’re creating a wall chart, use a large piece of paper (A3 or A4) for each subject and Write the mark/goal you have for each subject in the Top right hand corner of the page. Use big writing. Next, below that write a to-do list of everything you need to get done for the subject before the HSC. Be specific. Write down exact past papers and topics you need to do. Work in chronological order, the stuff you need to get done first gets put at the top of the list and so on. This wall chart is kinda like your bible for the next month. You’ll need to follow and add on to it as you go to keep track of your progress. It’ll also help to keep pesky parents off your back if they question what you’re studying etc.

4. Following the Plan

Once you’ve completed your plan, it’s time for the hard part. Actually executing the plan. What most top students do is segment a couple activities from the chart to finish each day. Every morning, choose a couple things to tick off that day and make sure you complete them. After that you have the rest of the day free.

The caveat here is that you shouldn’t go easy on yourself the first few days. Make sure you appropriately allocate activities to finish so that you aren’t left cramming the night before the exam.

5. Training

Finally, the best thing you could do is to train in the conditions that you’re going to face. It is incredibly important to attempt past papers in exam conditions in order to fully simulate the experience of sitting a 3-hour exam. A simple mindset shift is to think that you’re training rather than studying.

For example, Usain Bolt trains the way he actually performs by running time trials of 100m before the big race. You should do the same in relation to your HSC.

Sticking to the same analogy, Bolt uses video analysis in order to improve his running style. Likewise, you should make sure to mark and review your performance when attempting these past papers. There’s no point doing countless exams if you don’t know where you are going wrong.

Once you’ve reviewed the paper, you can either attempt it again, or try a new one to adapt the knowledge you gained from doing the previous test.

So there you have it, a step by step guide to preparing for your HSCs in the last month before them. None of these tips are rocket science and you may have heard them before but the real difference is whether you actually follow through on it.



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