August 15, 2018 Nic Rothquel

The most important skill required for HSC success

If you have children in year 10, 11 or 12 this could be the most valuable thing they will read as they approach the HSC.

I am regularly asked the question by senior students – ‘what do I need to do to succeed in the HSC?’. They ask it like there is a secret that only the top students know, like there is a formula that I can give them to guarantee a 99+ ATAR.

The thing is, the most important skill required for HSC success is also one that generally dictates success in life. It isn’t about sleepless nights or putting in 16 hour study sessions – in fact, it is the opposite to this.

The single most important skill that differentiates high performing students from everyone else is time management.

The ability to manage ones time effectively is a completely undervalued skill not just in school but in life. There are always going to be a hundred things we need to do at any point in time, but the ability to say ‘yes’ to the right things and ‘later’ or ‘no’ to everything else is such an important skill to learn.

Being good at your subjects is important. Working hard is great. But they are in vain if you don’t manage your time well.

Here are 3 tips I give to my own students that are serious about succeeding in the HSC:

1. Get a diary and use it.

I use ‘diary’ in a very broad sense here. It doesn’t have to be a book you write things in – it can be your phone’s calendar or your organiser on your laptop. Whatever you choose, you just want to ensure it is clear and easy to use. Every time you are given homework at school, diarise it. When you get an assessment task, put it in your diary and give yourself reminders at intervals so it doesn’t creep up on you. Even schedule in study time and treat it like a job – if it is in your diary you stick with it; no ‘if you feel like it’ allowed.

2. Understand your priorities and let your time reflect this.

We all have the exact same hours in a day. In order to maximise the 24 hours you have you need to know what is most important to you at any given time. If your focus is on doing as well as you possibly can at school, you need to make this your priority. This means saying no to the things that your friends want you to do. It means saying no to the temptation of mindlessly scrolling through social media and delaying your revision for a test. It means getting to bed at the right time to ensure enough rest so you are fresh at school the next day. These things aren’t fun – but they are required to achieve your goals.

3. Be 100% in

Whatever you do at any specific moment, make it your goal to be 100% present. Time is precious and you don’t want to waste any of it. If you are studying – be 100% in the study zone. If you are with family, be 100% present with the family, not constantly checking your phone or thinking about other things you need to to. The best people to be around are those that are 100% present in whatever they are doing, and whilst this can be a challenging thing to learn it will make your life far more rewarding if you can master the art of being present.

When things get busy it is very easy to wish for more hours in the day. Sadly, this won’t happen. All we can do is maximise what we already have – which is why time management is so important.