HSC students are often painted in one of two wildly dissimilar ways. You’re either a hard working bore who diligently flips through coffee-stained palm cards before bed, or you’re a bludger who lets socialising and fleeting teenage romance ruin your ATAR potential.
Go too far towards the studious end of the spectrum and you’re likely to burn out before final exams even begin, but veer too far towards the procrastination and socialisation end and you’ll never pick up a textbook.
Here’s how to find the balance between tackling practice exams, memorising essays, having a social life, and actually getting some sleep.
1. Find your study space
If you’re serious about studying, avoid crossing the threshold into the communal Year 12 ‘study’ space where students are trying to secure formal dates between completing Biology past papers.
You might believe your oversized headphones will block out the siren calls of gossip, but you’ll inevitably find yourself engrossed in dreary HSC conversation or discover your 15 minute study breather has transformed into over an hour of debriefing the latest drama on Married At First Sight.
If you want to make memories that will last a lifetime, however, these are the very places you should head – after you’ve finished a day of study. I promise there will be students desperate to share a carefree chat and comforting cup of tea, no matter how late you amble in.
2. Focus on the quality of your study, not the quantity
If you maximise your study hours and make use of every minute, you can minimise your library contact hours, leaving more time to do the things that distract you from your distaste for the school system forcing you to undergo standardised testing.
My school library opened at 9am during stu-vac. I arrived around 8am every morning and put down roots in the chilly library stairwell to test how much I remembered of my recently written essays (you’ll have your English Paper 2 essays down in no time). With a variety of both brightly-coloured highlighters and lollies stashed in my bag, I was always first in line to grab a secluded study space where I could work undisturbed all day long.
Well, unless I craved a nap around 2pm. Then, I simply headed home. If you’ve succumbed to a weary slump not even caffeine can fix, you’re studying ineffectively and wasting your time. If you started your day bright and early with razor-sharp focus, however, and know you’ve managed to commit your Modern History dates to memory, you have no reason to feel guilty for throwing in the towel. Just make sure you skip the late night Netflix binge so you have the stamina to stay a little longer, maybe until closing time, tomorrow.
3. Don’t give up your social life
Contrary to what your teachers and parents might claim, you can go out and have a great time with your mates without completely jeopardising your final results. In fact, I’d argue that it’s necessary.
There’s nothing quite like a Year 12 party. Your friends are turning 18, and it’s likely the last time you’ll be invited to a house party instead of pouring all your funds from a parched savings account into celebrating at clubs with a $25 cover charge. Appreciate free entry, drinks and food while you can.
During my Year 12 trials, I was one of the unlucky ones. I still had exams to suffer through while most of my classmates’ tests were long forgotten, so when a friend’s birthday party was scheduled for the weekend before two tough exams, everyone assured me they would completely understand if I had to stay home.
There was no way I was going to sit in my room ‘studying’ and constantly refreshing Snapchat to check what I was missing out on. So, what should you do if you find yourself with an amazing party invite in the middle of a hectic period? What you need is a carefully devised plan.
Don’t simply write a list of subjects you need to study before you go out; specify every practice question you intend to complete and how many paragraphs of your major work you’ll write, ticking off every task as you go. Sure, it’s a little more work in the short term, but you’ll thank yourself on Saturday night and in the long run – trust me.
photo cred: ummuhh