Getting the basics right means you don’t miss out on marks because of avoidable mistakes. Here are some general tips.
Practise previous exam papers: It’s a good way to prepare but don’t assume that exactly the same topics or types of questions will be asked in this year’s exam, as topics may change.
This advertising feature has been sponsored by the following schools. Click the links to find out more:
Things to remember in the exam
- Make the best attempt you can. It’s a much better strategy than not attempting a question at all.
- Write your answers in black pen. Pencil may be used where it is specifically directed but make sure that it can be read.
- If you make a mistake, cross it out so the markers know not to mark it.
- Exam papers, answer booklets and writing booklets will include instructions on how and where to record your answers.
- Recall as much of the feedback you received from teachers as possible.
In your written exam
- Use the reading time to start mentally planning your responses.
- Address the questions in depth with relevant examples.
- Show a thorough understanding of the text, write creatively and use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures.
- Address the question directly, rather than simply translating some of the texts.
“Students can resist falling into thinking traps and stressing about what you have been told you need to know, says Mark Heiss, director of Innovation and Learning at Sydney’s Marist College North Shore.
“Good preparation for the HSC means coming back to what it is that you understand about what you have learnt.
“No-one understands everything all at once. When you are talking with classmates or study partners, try and think, ‘How does this connect with what I already understand?’
“When you start with what you already understand, you are coming from a strength-based approach. This can help you to include the new learning more easily and reduce stress.
“If you think you understand it already, no problem. Challenge yourself to transfer this understanding to new contexts to further solidify your understanding.”
If you’re feeling stressed
When you’re feeling stressed, this is what clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller, who specialises in mental health in schools, recommends:
Write about your worries: Grab a piece of paper and write down your concerns about the HSC. Knowing your fears and getting them out of your head can help you to feel calmer.
Breathe out, slowly: Our ‘calm-down’ system is activated by breathing out slowly.
More eggs, less toast: Have a high protein, lower carbohydrate breakfast before exams.
Sip the good stuff: Drinking water can help lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes stressful feelings. Avoid energy drinks as they rev you up and may interfere with concentration.
Choose sleep over last-minute cramming: Try to get eight hours a night and restrict caffeine intake.