Ten tips for HSC exam success (that you might not have been told yet)

22 September 2015
22 September 2015 The Alchemy Team

In the lead up to HSC exams there is a lot of the same old advice going around. I want to give you some tips that you might not have heard before – gems that I usually reserve for my own students. I know these will make a difference if you put them into action!

  • Start each exam with your greatest strength

Just like a runner in a race, you will always do your greatest work at the start. Maximise the opportunity for marks by working with your strength first. As time goes on you will get fatigued, you will feel pushed for time and your hand will tire – so make sure you give your greatest skill the opportunity to shine. In Paper 1, if you are a great story teller then start with creative writing. In Paper 2, start with the module you feel best in. You don’t have to do any exam in chronological order.

  • The clock is your greatest friend (and foe)

Be sure you know how long you have to spend on each question, paper and exam. Mastering the clock is absolutely crucial. I’ve seen many students neglect the clock and all of a sudden they look up and have 10 minutes to do a whole essay. In Paper 1, section 1 you have 2 minutes and 40 seconds per mark – be ultra aware of this and don’t exceed it.

  • Find the study method that works for you

Not everyone learns the same way. Just because your friend can read a quote and remember it doesn’t mean you will be able to also. Try different methods and see what works best – read, write, listen, speak, explain – use a range of different techniques until you find the best study method for you.

  • Don’t try to remember an essay word for word

Some students are really good at this – but it doesn’t usually have the best outcome. Band 6 essays will demonstrate an ability to embrace the question and this is hard to do when you go in with a complete essay. It is much better to go in with your C.E.C (see next point) and build that around the question.

  • Prepare your C.E.C (Critical exam content)

C.E.C is the most important information you need. Imagine if you could only write 100 words to answer an essay question – what would they be? For most essay based subjects, this might be an outline of an introduction, your topic sentences and your quote/example bank. This is all you really need to write a great essay – but you really need to know it!

  • Nailing your introduction is crucial

With 80,000 discovery essays to read, you need to ensure that your essay reaches out and punches your marker in the face – even if it is the last essay they read at 9pm on a Friday night. This is achieved through an incredible introduction. I like to compare your essay intro to meeting a girl or boy for the first time – that first impression is crucial, and will setup the expectations for the rest of the essay.

  • Make it easy for your marker to give you marks

You don’t want your marker to have to hunt around for your techniques and examples – make them clear and easy to see. Some like to underline them, some highlight them. You don’t have to do either, but just make them easy to see. Your marker will be scanning your essay looking for keywords – ensure you keep coming back to the essay question and use the words in the question in your essay.

  • Essay writing is a formula that can be mastered

Even if you don’t feel like an incredibly gifted essay writer you can still learn the formula and put it into action. We all know that we need an intro, body and conclusion, but there are other formulas that can make your life easier. You might have seen PEEL or PETAL or PEAL. These are simple methods but they make a great foundation for your essay (for more details head to our blog at www.alchemytuition.com.au)

  • Learn when you are at your most productive

You are on study vacation, so you have the freedom to determine when you study. It doesn’t have to be a 9am-5pm thing. For me, my most productive time of the day is between 10pm and 2am – it is when I get the most done because the house is quiet, everyone else is in bed and I’m not going to get any phone calls or emails. One of my friends prefers going to bed early and getting up at 5am and studying straight away. Find ‘your’ time and don’t be ashamed to milk it.

  • Avoid study burnout

Nod with me if you have done this when studying: get restless, walk to the fridge, open it and find nothing, open pantry and find nothing, return to desk, repeat every 5 minutes. There comes a point in your study schedule where you will hit a wall and the very best thing you can do at that time is do something else. Watch a TV show or go for a walk. Cook a meal or call a friend. You need to break up your studying or you will burn out. Refresh and then get back to it.Considering a tutor for your child? We can help! We have amazing tutors ready to go that will help your child grow in confidence, love the learning experience and ultimately realise what they are capable of. Learn more here and book their first lesson online today!

Get in touch

Let's create gold together.