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Summer holiday study guide

By Danielle Barakat on 30 November 2018NSWblogHSCStudy tips

Your first term of year 12 is finally coming to an end, congratulations you survived, you are now a quarter of the way through your HSC year!

Now that the term is starting to wrap up, you should be starting to think about the next 2 months of holidays. Yes, they’re holidays and you should take the time to relax, recharge and have some fun with your mates but you’re in year 12 now which means the days of only looking at your homework the day before Term 1 starts are over. You should be planning your next couple of months so that you can actually incorporate some studying.

But what do you do? Do you work on assessments, write notes, do past papers, write practice essays… there are endless possibilities.

So we’ve put together a little bit of a guide on what you should be focussing on:

1. Wrap up term 4

The HSC exams are still a whole year away and when they roll around it’s really tricky to go back and study the content you learnt this term because it was so far away. That’s why you should consolidate your notes and have them properly prepared for when you do need to look back at them. This means you should try and get:

  • A full set of notes for all of your subjects on the content you’ve covered in term 4;
  • Feedback from all your assessments so you can address any of your big weaknesses.

These are a couple of really easy things you can do now that future you will be thankful for. If you aren’t 100% sure about how to write notes properly, be sure to check out our guide to writing the perfect set of notes. This means making sure you take home all the note writing resources that you will need these holidays, i.e. textbooks, exercise books, laptop and even random bits of paper shoved in the back of your locker… just to ensure you don't leave anything out.

In regards to your term 4 assessments, make sure you actually read through the feedback and over the holidays, work on anything that may have let you down so you’re not doomed to make the same mistakes next time.

2. Get on top of your weaknesses

You have 2 months, so sort your sh*t out. Do you have subjects that you’re really struggling with or exams that you completely bombed this term? Well now is the time to get on top of these and work through your weaknesses as best as you can.

There are a few key points to remember here:

  • Half of the work involved is overcoming the negative mindset associated with subjects that you just didn’t do as well in;
  • Whatever you did last time clearly didn’t work so it’s time to find new ways of studying i.e. watching a video, creating mind maps, using flashcards, doing more past papers or even trying to teach the topic to someone else in your family to help you remember it;
  • Do. More. Practice.

Working through your weaknesses will be challenging but it is worth getting these sorted now rather than waiting till 2 weeks before your next set of exams i.e. trials and having a mental breakdown because you feel like you’re going to fail. Again another reason for future you to thank present you.

3. Read your English texts

We are under the impression that year 12 students should read their English texts and I know that most of you are under the impression that you can get through year 12 English without reading them, but new syllabus = new rules. 2 months of relaxing by the beach means you have plenty of time to just commit to reading them.

Reading and understanding what they’re about will give you a massive head start into all your English modules for the rest of the year, so when your teacher starts talking about crucial plot points you’ll actually know what they’re referring to rather than trying to simultaneously listen and google the theme they’re talking about.

I would also recommend having a read of the syllabus before you start reading so that you know what you’re supposed to be looking out for. That way you can take a highlighter and start pinpointing some great quotes and examples you’ll be able to use for your essays later on.

Look, even if you don’t completely understand what’s going on, attempting to read these texts is better than not reading them at all so try your best.

4. Look over the syllabus & the year ahead

Like I mentioned before, you’re going to want to use these holidays to have a look at your syllabuses for the year ahead so that you don’t get any sneaky surprises. Make sure you skip down to the course content section, read through it and make note of all the dot points you’ll be learning about this year. It’s also important to look at the outcomes because that’s where a lot of your essay based subjects like Business, History or Economics will likely pull their extended response questions from.

It would also be a good idea to have a look at the assessment calendar for the year and start writing down when you have your assessments, exams and tests. This will make sure you’re organised well ahead of time and will make sure there are no accidental social clashes, e.g. an 18th the day before a major Maths exam… rookie error.

Tip: buy a giant calendar and put all your assessments and events on there.

It’s also a good idea to make note of anything you know you’re going to struggle with. For example, if you look at your Ext 1 Maths syllabus and see that 3D trig is a topic being tested and you knew that in year 11 you weren’t great at trig, you’ll want to start making a plan about how to get on top of that topic. For example, you could jump on to your Atomi account and watch one of our videos.

5. Major works

If you’re one of the unlucky few who is doing a major work, welcome to the time of year that you have all the time in the world to actually work on this, and trust us you’re going to need to use it. Major works are all due around the same as your trial exams so you can already imagine the amount of stress and anxiety that you will be feeling, so save future you!

The main thing you should be focussing on these holidays is getting your pre-research done. Nearly every major work is going to be based around a theory or concept and not only do you have to pick an idea but you’ll have to spend the next 7 months working on it so you have to like it. You also want to be making some decisions about what exactly you will be doing, developing a basic plan and timeline and actually making sure that this idea is plausible.

6. The ultimate question from every year 12 student

The main thing we get asked about studying in the summer holidays is this million dollar question: How much should I be studying in the holidays?

I hate to break it to you but there is no definite answer to this question. You could spend 4 hours a day at your desk studying these holidays but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a #99atar. So the advice I like to give is to do as much as you can to set yourself up for the rest of the year. That means having all your notes up to date, English texts read, having a couple of practice essays, short answers and responses done and pre-reading your syllabuses. Don’t worry too much about the number of hours because if all that only takes you 2 days, then cheering!

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