Yr 12: Thinking about the Bigger Picture

School is over, which means that the only thing left between now and the HSC is a short study break. What most students do with that break tends to fall into two categories – they either attempt to panic cram a year’s worth of content (Year 12 is a full 4 terms for a reason you know) OR they take things too easy and go into their final exams totally underprepared.


DON’T and I repeat DON’T let this be you! But how do I avoid making these mistakes and risking my HSC results you ask? Well… read on to find out (this is not clickbait I promise)!!


First things first – make a plan based on the study time frame you have ahead of you. Studying 2 weeks before an exam is VERY different to one month before an exam. While I believe it is never too late to get your studying game together (trust me when I say every effort counts), you should be realistic in how you and study and what you study.


One month before an exam, review all the topics and note down any “problem” areas. Make sure you keep this list – those areas are the ones you should a. spend extra time on before the exam and b. be extra careful in answering during the exam. At this point, your textbook is both an excellent reference point for course content and a suitable source of practice questions. Try to aim for a variety of question types rather than sticking to those you feel the most comfortable with. You won’t get very far if you keep doing easy questions and variety is the best way to overcome the limited time you have at hand.


Two weeks before an exam, shift your study to focus on your problem topics. Due to diminishing marginal returns to study (a concept which extends to just about any effort related activity), you are more likely to make a larger improvement in your weaker topics. Again, practice different types of questions within those topics, but slowly move away from textbook questions to past HSC and trial exams. Unlike textbook questions, which often contain considerable amounts of leadup and hints, the latter are much closer to what you will get in the real HSC. Remember, exam conditions whenever possible – I’m talking timed conditions, completing exams in one go and minimal distractions1


The night before an exam, stop studying. That’s right. Stop. Because let’s face it, you really won’t get much out of last minute cramming except elevated stress levels and a bad night’s sleep. Instead, the most important thing is mindset. Accept your ability level. Be proud of the progress you have managed to make and don’t dwell on what you haven’t managed to achieve. Go into the exam, give it your all and move on!!

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