It’s the beginning of the new year so we thought we’d put together our thoughts on how to prepare for your HSC year and make sure you set yourself up to dominate. After all...new year, new me right?
What most people don’t realise is that these couple of weeks before school starts are crucial for putting you on the right path to success.
So these are our 7 things you should be doing:
1. Have a number.
First things first - we think everyone should have a dream ATAR for the HSC.
Even if you’re not academic or you’ve already been accepted into the course you want, having a target will help focus you throughout the year, give you something to aim for and act as the basis for all your goal setting.
The number you choose should scare you. Just a little bit. Don’t put 99.95 if you think that’s totally unrealistic, but make sure the number is one that’s just a bit beyond what you think is possible. Then stick that number in your memory for the rest of the year.
Print it out, stick it on the wall of your study and have is constantly there (not in a creepy way though).
2. Work backwards.
Don’t look forward and focus on that assessment you have in week 3. Instead start at the end of the year and work backwards. The best way to set your goals is to visualise yourself getting your mark at the end of the year and then figuring out what you need to do to make that vision a reality.
Start with very top-level goals and then work your way down to more specific goals. For example a bad goal would be:
“I want to do really well in my HSC this year”
A good goal would be:
“I want to get an ATAR of 85 in my HSC with a Band 5 in Maths and Chemistry.”
From that you can say - An ATAR of 85 means I need about 75-80% in my trials and I have 4 assessments for Chemistry throughout the year, which means I need an average of 80% in each.
Now you have a plan of attack for what you need to do for that assessment in week 3. Working backwards will always lead to more realistic and targeted goals.
3. Devise a winning routine... and stick to it.
I know most people would say ‘being spontaneous is the best way to be,’ and that might work when you’re trying to date someone but it really doesn’t work when you’re trying to achieve a long-term goal like kicking ass in your HSC. For this sort of stuff routine is your best weapon.
The beauty about having a routine is that you sit down and create the strategy at the beginning of the year and then you don’t have to think about it again. You just have to do it.
For example if you want to start working out to get a good bod for summer, it’s not ideal to walk into the gym everyday and say ‘ok what should I do today?’ A better strategy is creating a winning routine and rely on that to get your results. So you would say ‘I need to do 3 weight sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and a 45min cycle on Saturday.’ That way every time you go to the gym you know exactly what you need to do.
It’s the exact same thing for the HSC. Instead of starting each week saying ‘what should I do this week?’ Take the time to think about your ATAR and what you need to do to get there. It might be “I should be studying about 2 hours every night after school on Monday and Wednesday and 1 hour on the days I have sport. I’ll play sport most of the day on Saturday so I’ll do 1 hour and 2 hours each Sunday. If I do that every week I’ll get the mark I need.”
So now all you have to do is trust in the process!
4. Know what you need to know.
How many times have we said, it’s just as important to know what to study than it is to actually do the study.
What do you we mean by this you ask?
Well for each one of your subjects you need to know:
- How the subject is structured
- What each Topic, Module, Core is and what each is about
- What topics your schools is going to be studying
- What assessments you’re going to need to do throughout the year and when they are
- What the structure of the exams are and the materials you’re going to need to have (e.g. notes, essays, major works etc)
Once you know all this information you’ll be in a much better position to know how, when and what to study. Knowing all this stuff may not be directly related to the content in the exam but it’s equally important. So make sure you go through the syllabus of each subject and read it back to front so you know what’s up.
Then it’s just about knowing it (which is where we come into the picture)
P.S. All the HSC Syllabus documents can be found here.
5. Map out the year.
This one is pretty simple - buy a massive calendar and map out your entire HSC year. Fill in when you have an assessment, exams, trials, the actual HSC, holidays, formal etc.
Actually having a visual layout of the year and being able to see everything gives you a huge amount of perspective as to what needs to be done and keeps your mind sharp about what’s coming up and what you need to do.
Simple but an effective strategy. We recommend this calendar.
6. Understand how the HSC is actually going to work.
Do you really know how the HSC works?
Do you know about rankings, trials and how much each assessment actually affects your final result?
Our guess is probably not, or not well enough. Which is fine, none of us knew about this stuff early in the year and we missed a massive opportunity. Again this stuff doesn’t have a lot to do with actually knowing the content but it’s still really important.
Knowing how it works makes everything less of a mystery and therefore gives you more perspective on how to approach the year. For example if you stuff up a 15% assessment in English, a lot of people would want to jump out the window and think their life is over. But, in the scheme of things it’s not going to affect your ATAR by a huge amount. That’s good to know.
Knowing that your internal school rank is the most important result of ALL your assessments throughout the year is also good to know.
We are in the process of creating videos about how the HSC actually works, but in the meantime ask your teachers, ex students or keep an eye on our blog for a post about all this in a couple of weeks 😉
7. Fast gains early.
People who think an ATAR of 99 just comes from a few weeks of intense study before the exams are horribly mistaken. There are no overnight successes in the HSC and if people tell you they ‘didn’t do that much work’ and got a killer mark, they are lying to you.
To do really well in the HSC you have to do really well ALL YEAR. Because every assessment throughout the year counts and all the habits and preparation you’ve done throughout the year helps in that final race to the finish. You can’t write a good Band 6 essay without having done 1000 practice ones throughout the year. And you will never get that Question 16 in Maths without doing the last 500 years of past papers.
So the faster you start getting on top of things, the better you’ll be throughout the whole year. The faster you can learn the content means you can move onto practice earlier, which means you can iron out any issues faster and get better marks. That’s why we created HSC Hub, to give students that ability to learn the content faster, easier and more efficiently so we can fast track that path to success. So jump on and check out our videos if you want to get that unfair advantage and start learning your content before everyone else.
So they’re our tips for approaching the HSC year.
Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint and spending these next couple of weeks before school planning your method of attack is totally worth it.