Staying motivated in the HSC

The HSC was a big trek for me, I’m not going to lie or sugar coat that one for you. It was definitely incredibly difficult for me to stay motivated when I felt like the work was endless or my marks were below expectation… But in the end, it really is a test of perseverance that can be extend to just life in general – you should not give up too early because nothing worthwhile comes without some setbacks!


Set goals for yourself

And those goals do not have to be huge. While I personally found having a long-term goal (think degree in university or career aspirations) to be incredibly incredibly beneficial, obviously it might not be for everyone. But every goal, even ones as small as catching up on all your maths homework by the end of the week or handing in a practice essay for your teacher to mark, will give you some direction to follow. I know how super busy and stressful Year 12 can be, I know how overwhelmed you might feel, I know you might not think you have the time to set goals, but they really are a life saver, trust me.


Look at the bigger picture

I reckon this idea of taking a step back and not focusing on all the details… that was what really saw me through my HSC year. It can be so easy to think that one bad assessment mark or a concept that you just can’t understand will ruin your chances of achieving a high ATAR and getting into the university you want to go to but remember that the HSC is different from many other examination systems. The HSC is specifically designed so that it reflects your academic performance over the entire of Year 12 and not just the HSC exam period – that is precisely why they go to the trouble of having both raw marks and adjusted scaled marks based on school internal performance.


That brings me to two important points:

  • Internal ranks matter, but not as much as you might think

Do not forget that half of your raw mark is still well… 100% yours! It can be so easy to become disheartened by your internal rank but it definitely should not mean giving up. Many students find that if they keep studying hard (and smart), they peak in their external exams and end up performing better than their school trials. You also should try to work with your classmates rather than treating as competition – remember in the end of the day, it is in your best interest that you all perform well in the HSC so the final pool of marks is larger.

  • Do not let one exam impact your others

After you finish your exam, forget about it. I know that can be a lot easier said than done, but there really is no point worrying about something you can’t change anymore. If you let your earlier exams affect your mindset, then chances are you will end up doing worse in all your others too. Instead, shift your focus to your next exam. What are the key points you need to memorise? What areas do you need to pay particular attention to because you are likely to make silly mistakes?

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