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The Idiot’s Guide to studying just prior to, and during the HSC exams (1 Viewer)

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In a perfect world, everyone would have started typing up their study notes months ago, and have everything memorized precisely 2.3 weeks ago. However, few of us are perfect, so here’s some advice that came out of my own cramming session back in ’04. Enjoy!

* dates and times being played with below are actual HSC 2006 ones.



I’m going to begin by giving a rough timeframe of when things should happen. Even if this is “too late” for you, it’ll still give you an idea of what you should do first. A "study outline", if you will.




A few weeks prior to the HSC:
It goes without saying that you should know what your HSC 2006 Exam Timetable is by now. This is also the time when you should either start getting your study notes together, or be writing study notes in a group. If you don't already know exactly how the paper is going to be set out, now is the time to get hold of a past paper and have a look through it!

Often people can become overwhelmed by the sheer size of the content you have to cover. Don't fall into the temptation of staring into empty space, thinking "omg so much... omg too much... hello fail!" Rather, just start it! Break up your content into more managable pieces. Most subjects have several parts to them - for example Eng Adv can be broken up into modules, Ancient History can be divided up into Personalities/Societies, and so on. For the few subjects that can't, just start from the top.

Many people like to retype their notes during this time. This is perfectly fine, and will likely be very useful later on :) In the rare event you don't know the way you can study most effectively yet, now's a good time to experiment :p Whether it's speaking notes out loud, bribing yourself, discussing topics with friends, discussing topics to your pet goldfish, locking yourself in your room, disconnecting the internet... do it!

If in the event your school notes or pre-existing study notes are in total disarray, sort them out before you try making sense of them.
* If all your subjects are mishmashed together, putting them into piles according to subject is your first point of call. Just organise them on the floor - a table might not be big enough!
* When notes are already sorted by subject, sort them into 'sections' and staple any notes that should be kept together. Alternatively if a bunch of notes are already stapled but you feel they shouldn't be, just rip them apart (however you should never rip up a textbook! lol).
* Keeping your notes from falling apart: I used big elastic bands to keep sections separate, and used either a giant elastic band or some ribbon to keep the different study note sections of a single subject together. This worked like a charm - not only could I easily reach for say, my "General Maths" stack or "Ancient History" stack, but it was very easy to pick out a particular piece of information (say, "Techniques" in Module B of Adv Eng), and also to see if there were any "gaps" in my study notes which needed to be filled.


Goals:
* To put some order into your study notes so they are easier to study
* To figure out what the heck you actually need to know for the exam
* To get a stronger grasp of the syllabus (this is more important than you realise - having an idea of what is and isn't crucially important makes "last-minute-selective-cramming" somewhat effective)
* To make life a hell of a lot easier for yourself down the track





The week or so prior to the HSC:
Now that the notes have been typed up, it's time to test your grasp of the content by doing practice papers TO TIME, and by hand. If in the event you have not done your study notes yet, start now - but remember to prioritise!

In either circumstance, I strongly suggest putting a calendar or planner together - I had several sheets of paper stuck up on my wall for this purpose, and I'd cross off days as the exam period progressed. Some people are suprisingly calm during their hsc, others are reduced to pulp-like figures of panic, not knowing what to do next and too stressed out to decide what to do. Having a "Today is the 21st of October, and you are going to study English Extention 1" on your wall can be very helpful!!! For those who need to do some serious prioritising between typing up study notes and studying for an upcoming exam, a calendar/planner will help keep you organised, as opposed to letting you finish typing up Ancient History notes 10 minutes prior to your Maths exam starting.

Ah, but what to study first? The subject you have no clue on, or the one that's coming up in 5 days? As a general rule I preferred to give myself 2-3 clear days of cramming per subject just prior to an exam (adjust accoringly depending to your study habits and challenge level of subject).

This is a typical HSC study plan

18th Oct - Study English AOS
19th Oct - Study English AOS
20th Oct - ENGLISH AREA OF STUDIES EXAM 9.20am to 11.30am / rest <-- account for both mornings and afternoons
21st Oct - Study English Adv
22nd Oct - Study English Adv
23rd Oct - ENGLISH ADVANCED EXAM 9.25am to 11.30am / Study Ancient History

Here's an example of what your planner could look like if you need to juggle writing up study notes and actual cramming:

24th Oct - Study Ancient History
25th Oct - ANCIENT HISTORY EXAM 9.25am to 12.30pm / Write up English Ext notes
26th Oct - Finish English Ext notes
27th Oct - Write up General Maths notes
28th Oct - Write up General Maths notes
29th Oct - Study General Maths
30th Oct - Study General Maths
31st Oct - GENERAL MATHS EXAM 9.25am to 12.00pm / Rest <-- good to put some rest moments in
1st Nov - Study English Ext
2nd Nov - Study English Ext
3rd Nov - ENGLISH EXTENSION EXAM 9.25am to 11.30am

In odd circumstances where you have two exams on the one day, or two exams over 2 days, then still give yourself a few days per subject but you can set it out something like this:

4th Nov - Study History Ext
5th Nov - Study Textiles
6th Nov - Study Textiles / TEXTILES AND DESIGN EXAM 1.55pm to 3.30pm/ Study History Ext
7th Nov - Study History Ext / HISTORY EXTENSION EXAM 1.55pm to 4.00pm

^In situations where you have an afternoon exam, remember you still have that morning to study. The opposite holds true for morning exams.

When you KNOW one subject will require significant more study than others, factor this in. Here, the "weak" subject is Ancient History.

15th Oct - Study Ancient Hist
16th Oct - Study Ancient Hist
17th Oct - Study Ancient Hist / English AOS
18th Oct - Study English AOS / Ancient Hist
19th Oct - Study English AOS
20th Oct - ENGLISH AREA OF STUDIES EXAM 9.20am to 11.30am / rest <-- account for both mornings and afternoons
21st Oct - Study English Adv / Ancient Hist
22nd Oct - Study English Adv
23rd Oct - ENGLISH ADVANCED EXAM 9.25am to 11.30am / Study Ancient Hist
24th Oct - Study Ancient Hist
25th Oct - ANCIENT HISTORY EXAM 9.25am to 12.30pm / English Ext notes

Some people are pedantic about studying in "chronological" order. That's fine too

26th Oct - Study General Maths <-- maths first
27th Oct - Study General Maths
28th Oct - Rest / Study Eng Ext <-- then english ext
29th Oct - Study Eng Ext
30th Oct - Study General Maths <-- and back to maths
31st Oct - GENERAL MATHS EXAM 9.25am to 12.00pm / Rest
1st Nov - Rest / Study Eng Ext
2nd Nov - Study Eng Ext
3rd Nov - ENGLISH EXTENSION EXAM 9.25am to 11.30am

It's also perfectly fine to "split" days, if that's most comfortable for you

4th Nov - Study Textiles / History Ext
5th Nov - Study Textiles / History Ext
6th Nov - Study Textiles / TEXTILES AND DESIGN EXAM 1.55pm to 3.30pm
7th Nov - Study History Ext / HISTORY EXTENSION EXAM 1.55pm to 4.00pm

Bear in mind this is not the ONLY, "best" or "most effective" way to study during exams. It's just the way I did it, and it worked for me.

I started my planner by working backwards, from the last exam to the first. Why not the other way around? Because you're always relying on knowing how much time the following subject will take to cram before you can plan how the preceeding one is going to fit. When in doubt, give more time to the study of a subject than less. And do remember to give yourself rest periods as well! Be realistic about what you can expect out of yourself.

Two important things to keep in mind when doing a planner:
* Towards the end of the exam period when freedom is in sight, it becomes harder to study. So either give extra time to this subject, or ensure all study notes for your last exam are done in advance!
* Anything longer than 2-3 days between exam tends to send people into "holiday mode", and it becomes hard to pick up the pace again after this especially if you had several days of rest/bludging. Be alert to this sort of thing (or make sure you have stuff planned every single day even if only a half day), and you'll have a better chance of disciplining yourself.

And remember - Daylight Savings comes in Sunday the 29th of October!

Particularly if you are preparing for a exam which is heavily based on the regurgitation of information (Maths, Textiles, any subject with loads of definitions or multiple choice sections) a "Master" set of study notes or "Cheatsheet"is something you may wish to work on during this time. Now that you're somewhat familiar with the syllabus content, pick out the most important parts and put them together. Dot points usually work best - don't even TRY memorising entire paragraphs. It's a good idea to try and keep these master notes/cheatsheet as condensed as possible, or do a more extended 'preliminary' one now and a condensed one later, or a shorter one now and a more extended version just prior to the exam when you know you've already memorised most of the stuff (whichever works best for you).

When you've already done one past paper, search for another! Alternatively if you are working on a particular section such as Module B of the Eng Adv paper, just search for questions for that either via internet, friends, school, making them up on your own etc. I spent a lot of my time last year pulling out random essay questions out of a hat :p Sometimes knowing your stuff isn't enough - for essays you need to be able to answer a question and to make your response look good.


Goals:
* To become more familiar with exam content
* To mark when Daylight Savings comes in!
* To do as much as you can to ensure things can run like clockwork during the exam period





The few days prior to your first HSC exam
It's time to start preparing for your first exam - ensure you are familiar with exam paper layout and all exam rules. Time all attempts and ensure they are handwritten unless you have special provisions.

When preparing for an upcoming exam I like to be completely focused on one thing at a time. I like to start off with a hard copy of a past exam paper in front of me and I'll work section by section, normally "hardest" to "easiest" (theory here is that even if I spent more time than intended on say, Module A (Transformations) in the Eng Adv exam, I can confidently pull out three decent responses as opposed to 2 decent ones and 1 crap one.

Ideally, at this point you do not want to be running into "OMG I DON'T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS *crawl into a hole and die*" type moments. However it is quite likely that this will happen at least once during your HSC period. The important thing is to try and remain calm, and use all the resources avaliable to you. HSC Online. The HSC Advice line. BOS (there are a lot of post-HSC students such as myself still roaming the academic forums). Tutors. Classmates. The earlier you find your problems (this is why it's a good idea to tackle the scariest part first) the more time there is to fix it.

On a side note, I like to make a habit about talking to classmates a few days before going to exams. Time has shown that one person's strengths are another's weaknesses, and so on - the greater your "knowledge pool" is, the better off everyone is. But a word of caution! Some people find 'group studying' or group discussions in general to be detrimental and frustrating as opposed to helpful. Even if they're your best friends don't assume that means instant compatibility as studybuddies... if this is the case, don't push it and just find someone else to study with :)

Particularly if you are preparing for a exam which is heavily based on the regurgitation of information (Maths, Textiles, any subject with loads of definitions or multiple choice sections) a "Master" set of study notes or "Cheatsheet"is something you may wish to work on during this time if you haven't already. Rather than having to repeatedly trawl through a very heavy set of notes, you can compile all the really important stuff (or, just ALL the stuff) into a more compact set of notes that is easy to cart around and certainly more digestible for the mind.

Hint for when you need help: The more specific you are the better. If you ask someone to tell you all about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because you know nothing, the person you're talking to is most likely to say "uhhh, I don't know. Buy a study guide?". However if you ask something like "What are some particularly good existentialist quotes in Hamlet's monologue?" you're going to get a more detailed, specific answer.

The importance of handwriting trial responses: Fact #1: Most people type faster than they can handwrite. Fact #2: Developing speed-writing skills takes practice Fact #3: The art of handwriting requires slightly different thought processes than computer typing. For starters, there's no backspace key. You have to get used to a) trying not to screw up and b) quickly crossing out (DO NOT WHITE OUT, WAITING FOR IT TO DRY WASTES TIME) is something you only get used to whilst handwriting. Additionally, some people like myself find there is a different kind of flow to writing/reading handwritten work... while you're at it you might also want to work on your speed-writing legibility ;)

The importance of knowing what your exam paper looks like: Even if your teacher has "explained" it to you, there's nothing quite like seeing it for the first time. You cannot afford freakout moments during the exam, as they take up valuable time and can dislodge precious crammed information... and heaven forbid you find a section of the exam paper no-one's told you about! Also - knowing exactly what's in the paper, how many related texts will be required, and how many marks are allotted to what will give you an idea of how much time you're supposed to spend on a particular section. Sometimes suprises pop up, such as the Board requesting two rather than one related text or the integration of an unseen stimulus text for the English Extension 1 essay. Whilst rare, things like this do and can happen and you should try to prepare yourself for them. Don't assume that simply because it's already been done that it won't or can't be done again!

The importance of understanding time management during the exam: When the exam is over, it's over. So that means if you're "behind" by about 20 minutes, you're not going to be allowed to continue. Get used to the idea of working with a time limit - the exam is not only testing what you know, but also your ability to write a response within a particular time frame (as a general rule, the more marks a question is worth, the more time you should spend on it). Only with timed practice will you gain an idea of what you can write within a particular time frame - if you are writing less than what you need to, then you know you need to start condensing, or developing speedwriting skills.

Establishing a pattern and sticking to it
Regardless of whether you're a "day" studier, or a "night" studier, or somewhere in-between, now is not a good time to be having erratic waking hours - it's good to try and get 6-9 hours of sleep around the same time each day. :)

Make sure you have the right stuff before walking into your exam room!

Need a ruler? Make sure you have one. Need some pencils? Take two! And a pencil sharpener! Is there a possibility you need an eraser? If you need a calculator, make sure you have one - AND that it's not about to run out of battery. If you're not sure, make sure you have a spare, even if you have to borrow from a Yr 10 student or something. Make sure you have everything BEFORE the night before, which is when you could be concentrating so hard on your studying you can barely think of anything else.

My pen of choice for exams is the Pilot BPS-GP-F/M. The smoothness of writing with this pen is to die for. Nonetheless, regardless of what pen you're using, make sure that it works the night before, and ALWAYS take at least one spare into the exam room.

Additionally, you will only be permitted to use see-through pencil cases (plastic sleeves also work well). This was a rule in 2004 but does not appear on the list today, however I assume it is still in effect. Can someone please confirm this?

For a more detailed list of what is and isn't permitted in the exam room, see here


Goals:
* To get enough sleep each night
* To either know all your notes inside out, or to have a master set of study notes/cheatsheet handy
* To generally be as prepared as possible for whatever the exam throws at you





The night before your first HSC exam
Assuming you've got your master notes/cheatsheet and are going over practice papers, the most important thing now is to remain calm :)

Being calm brings nothing but good things. We retain more things when we're calm, we can find answers with greater ease, and can spend more time "doing stuff" as opposed to running around the house in a mindless panic :p

That being said I wouldn't be suprised if a large number of people are really stressed right now - not because they're not prepared (even if they don't think they are :p) but simply because this is your first BIG exam. It's new, it's big, it's the lilypad between here and that other big "scary" (but so totally not scary) thing called uni, and so forth. Don't worry so much about all the what if's - "what if I fail", "what if I don't get the uai I want", "what if I screw up my first exam and are set to screw up the rest of the hsc and then my life is screwed" etc etc. There are SO many back doors at tertiary level education that it truly is not worth getting worried about. Just say to yourself - "I am going to give this exam my best shot. After it's over, it's over and I'll concentrate on the next one". :)

The exam is not a ten-armed googly-eyed monster out to eat your pet cat!
From past experience, your English AOS exam (most people's first exam) is the easiest one you'll do. The first section of the paper will be extremely straightforward and almost every single person I know has walked out of the examroom saying "wow! That wasn't so bad!" (the few people who didn't say that were accelerant students who had done HSC exams the year prior. They came out saying "meh. That was as easy as I expected.")

Oh and just to reiterate. The HSC exams will be MUCH, MUCH easier than the HSC Trials. :)

Bribery and corruption is a bad thing. Except during your HSC, when it becomes perfectly legal
If you want to promise yourself a treat after the exam tomorrow (so you have something to look forward to), then go for it ;) I remember having chocolate ice cream cravings around this time last year, so before my first exam I was like "ooh, stressed!"/"oh yay I get to have ice cream after this!"/"gah, I just want this exam over now, I want my ice cream..."

Read this before you start getting too enthusiastic about your upcoming exam :p
Plan to have a good dinner, pack your bag for tomorrow, set your alarm clock, and get a good night's sleep. If you have erratic sleeping patterns or are at risk of getting so stressed that you will have trouble sleeping (case in point: I didn't think I had ANY sleep the night before my Eng AOS exam), then make arrangements to have some herbal tea, warm milk or sleeping tablets or something just before bed :)


Goals:
* Get a good night's sleep!
* Stay calm and convince yourself the sky is not going to fall down tomorrow
* To organise something that makes your want to look forward to getting the exam over and done with :)





During your HSC exams
I can't think of a gimmick line here. Suggestions welcome! :p

I remember when I was in Yr 7 or 8, looking at the Yr 12's and thinking "wow. They're doing their HSC." *insert various life-altering, rite-of-passage connotations here* The funny thing is that once you get there, it's not that bad. Of course there are going to be some moments when you bash your head against a wall, or against a desk because they asked the ONE question which you weren't prepared for. But after the initial shock/sitting your first exam, you're more prepared on an emotional/psychological level to deal with the rest :)

Keep your eyes in front - not behind!
Once an exam is over, it's over. There is nothing you can do to change what you did in the exam, so don't waste any time at all thinking "damn, I should have written blahblahblah" or "holy crap, I don't think I did as well as I should have. Oh no my UAI is screwed!" Regardless of how good or bad you felt you went, focus all your energies on the next exam.





-under construction, almost done!!!-
 
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Ennaoj

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Aww Thanks for that! Look how much effort you have gone to... i printed it off i think it will be a great help/guide

:):)
 

Sparcod

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Ok Thankyou a million times Glitterfairy.

Keep a regular sleep pattern. Get enough sleep and you'll be fresh..(unless you haven't covered it)
 
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Actually, might put something in about sleep now. Thanks for bringing it up! :)
 
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luscious-llama

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I love you glitterfairy. I LOVE YOU.
I still have to send you a gift.
Oh it'll be around Christmas now.
Ohh love to glitterfairy!!!


I <3 Lynn
*Praise*
 

Mrs.McDreamy

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THANK YOU that's awesome. OK here's a question. For modern history I have comprehensive and detailed study notes for 3 out of my 4 areas of study (the 4th being the one I did last and didn't finish until after trials) which means I might not know it aswell but it's still fresh in my mind?? Should I bother writing syllabus notes, it will take me a while. Or should I just stick with class hand outs/the text book to study off????
 
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It really depends on how you remember things - and you know how your mind words best :). If you have a brilliant mind and can retain all that section 4 stuff with occasional glances at handouts/textbook, then go for it. However if you know that you'll need a bit more to remember all of it (most people fall into this category) then write up the notes :)
 

s2indie

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Thanks heaps for that.
It actually got me motivated to study.
 

bruno pru

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o wow, im motivated now!! thanx:) im not gonna fail lol woot woot
 

bassqueen16

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uber sexy hot damn thats hawt love to you glitterfairy, i seriously was about to have a panic attack at the lack of good study ive been doing, i read your post and went HEY im doing all that! :O so i love you forever, and when the time comes, you may be my firstborns godmother ;) LOVE YOU!!!!
 
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^ By all means, it's fine to be "ahead of schedule". But so long as you're going through your stuff thoroughly (and by that I mean actually writing up notes, taking the time to memorise those notes, then apply studied knowledge to practice papers as opposed to frantically flicking though class notes haphazardly ;)), then you're on the right track :)
 

studiousbiatch

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thanks so much for that glitter, it was really helpful :)

BUT i have a very screwed up timetable- wondering if you could help me individually like with how i should manage studyign everything between now and then? would be so appreciated.

20th- Adv. Eng Paper 1 (and my bday :mad1: )
23rd- Adv. Eng Paper 2
24th- Geography
25th- Ancient Hist
26th- Business studies
31st- Gen Maths
3rd- Eng Ext 1

terrible i know.
thanks!
 

studiousbiatch

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oh and my weakest subjects rank-wise are geography and eng ext 1 (but im going to mainly study ext 1 in the few days i have before hand) but i am really stressed about ancient too because of all the stuff i need to know..
 

Spider786

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whoa, i feel sorry for you, your time tables really really tight!, unfortunatly my ones also pretty bad, i have maths gen and sdd on the same day..
 

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