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What should I be doing in the summer holidays?

By Lauren Condon on 18 December 2017GeneralNSWblog

Um .. having fun?

Seriously, your priority this holiday should be giving yourself a really good break and getting in the best frame of mind for what will be a fairly tough year. Most of that involves relaxing and having fun but another part is actually setting yourself up for next year to be as manageable as possible and here are a few easy ways to do that…

1. Play catch up

If there was a subject you really struggled with in year 11, if there was an exam you kind of bombed last term or you know that a topic like trigonometry happens to be your big weakness, then get. on. this. now.

Seriously. You have so much time over this summer break that it is the perfect opportunity to really lock down any rogue subjects or topics that could drain all your will to live time next year.

The are a few key points to remember here:

  • Half the work is actually deciding you’re going to tackle this struggle rather than just stressfully pretending it doesn’t exist so, kudos.
  • Whatever you have been doing so far clearly hasn’t worked so time to switch things up: read an online breakdown of the topic, watch a video, develop some acronyms to help you remember a process, ask someone to have a chat with you etc.
  • Practice, practice, practice. It’s such a cliché but if something finally ‘clicks’ for you, make sure you really make that understanding solid by working through a few practice questions.

2. If you have a major work, get started

Major works are actually such a good part of year 12. They’re probably one of the first chances for you to pick something you actually give a 💩 about and to design your own project. In saying that, they can very quickly turn into the the worst part of your HSC if you don’t stay on top of them.

That means these summer holidays are the perfect time to set yourself up for a winning major work. The main thing you should be doing is all your pre-research. Nearly every major work is going to be underpinned by a theory or a concept and this is the time to flesh it out. You also want to make some key decisions about what exactly you will be doing, developing a basic idea plan for the year and most importantly, you want to be making sure your idea is actually plausible.

No point planning on doing a History Extension project on Marie Antoinette and then only realising a month before it’s due that there is nothing particularly new for you to say on the historiography of her. Do enough research to test out your idea these holidays and make sure it’s solid.

3. Completely consolidate Term 4

By the time the HSC rolls around, that term of work you have just finished is going to feel very very far away. It’s going to be very hard to write any notes or remember what you struggled with if you only revisit this content in the lead up to trials. That means you should try and get:

  • Complete notes for all of your subjects for the term 4 topics.
  • Feedback from all your assessments and address any of your big weaknesses.

It’s not going to be too difficult, just make sure you’re writing those notes properly and that you don’t just shove your term 4 assessments into the back of your locker and leave them there over the holidays. Actually read over the feedback and try a few more practice questions on that topic to see if you can fix the issues straight away. If you can’t, refer back to the first point of this post ⬆️ .

4. Read through any English texts

Yes, you really should be reading your prescribed and related texts for English and these summer holidays are the perfect time to get started.

Reading texts isn’t going to feel like a massive effort but it’s going to give you such a head start going into all your English modules for the rest of the year. You can even start to jot down a few examples and ideas or bookmark some solid quotes as you go. Keep an eye out for a whole post on the easy way to read your texts coming up just after the new year 👀 .

Even if you don’t really understand the text or can’t see how on earth you will ever turn it into a good essay, at least you know what questions to ask when you get into your first class.

5. Quickly look over the year ahead

The last thing you need next year is any nasty surprises. And the best way to prepare yourself against those is to print out the syllabus for each one of your subjects, skip down to the course content section and read through the dot points under each topic that you will be doing. Do this with a highlighter and pen in your hand so you can make notes about what looks particularly rough (just scribble wtf) next to it.

If you see something that really looks intimidating and you feel like you might be dreading it coming up then jump on and watch a quick video that will break down the whole idea so you know exactly what you are in for.

For example, if you struggle with Trig and saw 3D Trigonometry as a dot on the Extension I Maths syllabus then this might help you feel a bit more comfortable:

ALSO, now is the time to buy (or make) one of those giant wall calendars and write in all your exam and assessment periods so you when to start freaking out preparing 👍 .

Bonus question: How much study should I be doing?

If you’ve skimmed through that whole article because you really just want to be told how many hours of study you should be doing every day (or week) then chilllllll out. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as saying if you spend 4 hours a weekday at a desk these holidays you’re guaranteed to have a 90+ ATAR.

Instead of setting an amount of ‘hours’ you want to study these holidays, set study goals and just try to meet them as efficiently possible around the rest of your life. Some example goals might be:

  • Finalise the concept of major project and complete a year plan to complete it
  • Have up-to-date notes for all of term 4
  • Read all English texts

Whack those into a timetable and there’s your answer. As long as you're ticking off those tasks, who really cares whether you do 10 hours a day in the last week or 2 hours a weekday all holidays?


Seriously just enjoy yourself as much as possible these holidays (they’re the last real ones you’ll have for the next year) and set some reasonable study goals that will make your life easier next year. You’ll be fine 👌 .

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