Home | In The Classroom | Some top tips teachers can share on aceing the HSC during a pandemic: Opinion

Some top tips teachers can share on aceing the HSC during a pandemic: Opinion

1: Catch up on any work missed during online learning

The HSC has never been as stressful or as anxiety-inducing as it is currently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With almost 9 in 10 students feeling distracted while studying from home, and 3 in 4 students agreeing their motivation levels have decreased significantly, it can be easy to fall behind.

But now’s the perfect time to catch up on all that you missed. So, where do you begin?

Firstly, make a note of everything that you missed or need to catch up on. You can do this by rating your understanding of each syllabus dot point.

Print off your syllabus and use the traffic light system to rate your understanding. A red dot means “I have no idea what this is about”, an orange dot, “I know the basics of this” and a green dot, “I could easily ace this in an exam!” Place one of these coloured dots on each of your syllabus dot points.

Anything that scored a red dot means it should be prioritised when it comes to revision, followed by any orange dots and repeat dots! Make sure you create notes for these weaker areas or any area that you missed so that you’re up to date.

Now that you’re back in the classroom, actively seek help from your teachers to clarify anything you didn’t understand during online learning. Now is a good time to build and consolidate your understanding before you head into your HSC exams.

2: Create a tailored study plan

The holidays before your HSC exams are crucial - it’s when you need to knuckle down and study hard to do as best as you can in your HSC.

That’s why it’s important to create a study plan! But what does an effective study plan look like?

Firstly, print out a monthly calendar that includes the holidays before your HSC exams. Make sure the dates have space beneath them and are large enough to write in.

You want to space out your study, not cram. This way information is retained more effectively in your long-term memory. For every three days of consecutive study, you should take the fourth day off to enjoy a break from your studies and look after your wellbeing. You can mark these break days with a cross on your calendar.

For the days that you do have study, you want to plan these like your usual school day. Start work from 10am and study until 12pm, then take a lunch break and come back to work from 1pm to 3pm. This way you’re breaking up your day and you’re still in the rhythm of school.

Try to study a different subject in your morning study session and afternoon session to give yourself a bit of variety. Mark these different subjects in your calendar so you stick to it!

While studying, try using the Pomodoro technique. All that means is for every 25 minutes of study you complete, take a 5 minute break. These dedicated break times means you procrastinate less and study more efficiently.

Lastly, make sure you’re using study techniques that work for you.

Are you a visual learner? Try creating mind maps, flow charts and graphs. For aural learners, record yourself reading your notes and listen back to it. For verbal learners, try teaching someone else the content. Are you a physical learner? Try rewriting your notes using the ‘look, cover, write, check’ method!

3: Apply for early entry, scholarships and co-op programs

In the case that you don’t achieve the results you want, it’s a good idea to have a fall back plan by applying for early entry programs which don’t consider your ATAR.

Early entry reduces a bit of the stress during the HSC journey by offering you a place at university, before you’ve even sat your HSC exams.

These early entry programs are often called Schools Recommendation Schemes (SRS) and you can apply through UAC.

Early entry programs often reward leaders, those who have volunteered in their community, students with a record of extracurricular activity or who have maintained a strong academic record.

Usually, the scheme requires a reference from a teacher, Year 11 academic records, your school’s rating of your abilities in different subjects and your aptitudes.

It can also be easy to get caught up in your studies during the HSC, which is why it’s important to remember to apply for scholarships and co-op programs.

Universities have hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships lying around so make sure you have a browse through university scholarship pages to figure out which you are eligible for.

4: Consider non-ATAR pathways

Having an ATAR is not the only way to get into university. There are alternative options. Each uni has a pathway program you can take to gain entry into a particular degree.

These usually act as a bridging course, foundational study or diploma you complete before you begin your actual uni degree. Some can even credit your diploma towards your degree, so you don’t lose any time.

These programs equip you with skills you’ll need at university and help you get university-ready.

Register to join Rowan Kunz’s webinar with more practical advice about getting back on track for the HSC (despite COVID-19) at UTS Open Week https://openweek.uts.edu.au/

Rowan Kunz is the CEO of Art of Smart Education and the author of Secrets of HSC Success Revealed. He has conducted 10 years of research with Australia’s top students and is a thought leader on developing peak performance in young people.

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