Monthly Archives: January 2010

Extracurricular Activities – During the HSC

If you want to apply for scholarships, go into Medical studies or get a highly sought-after part time job after leaving school; it is always a good idea to get some extracurricular activities under your belt during schooldays. On the downside though, good extracurricular activities often take a large amount of time, and might distract you from your studies. Therefore, it is important to practice time management.

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at what extracurricular activities you can do in high school that would help you with things like scholarships, entry into Medical College or while searching for a job later on.

Worthwhile Extracurricular Activities in High Schoolextracurricular-activities

As a high school student, the best activity to be involved in for most people is to get into some sort of sporting activities. Sports are an excellent to list on your resume, as it communicates several things to your interviewers:

  • You can work in a team (most sports are team-based)
  • You are competitive (that’s a great trait to demonstrate for things like scholarships and jobs)
  • You are a well-rounded individual (that is to say, you’re not just into computer games or Facebook)

The important thing here is to choose a sport that you truly enjoy. Do more than just play the sport – enter competitions, tournaments etc. This gives you more to talk about in an interview, other than merely saying “Oh I play soccer every weekend”. The point is to separate yourself from the rest – if you stand out, you will have a greater chance of success.

School related positions

High school students can also opt for school-related events or position. If you’re the School Captain, that’s an excellent portfolio. But even if you are not, try to be a School Prefect or an SRC representative. These positions convey that you possess leadership skills – a trait that is very favourably looked upon by interviewers for scholarships, entry into medicine or jobs.

Besides these, volunteer for as many things as you can at school which allows you to take responsibility for something. For example, if you’re good with computers, try to volunteer to help manage the school’s computer networks. If you have a knack for audio equipment, volunteer to help set up the audio equipment for the school hall for each event (e.g. dances, Talent Quests, general assembly’s etc).


Extremely competitive activities such as joining the Maths, Chemistry, Physics or Biology Olympiads reflects very well on your abilities in these subject areas, as well as your ability to manage your time effectively. For things like academic scholarships and jobs that require related skills, such activities are worthwhile, should there arise an opportunity.

One-off activities

You can also consider participating in one-off volunteering / fund-raising events, such as things like “40-hour famine” or those like “Duke of Edinburgh” awards. Keep in mind that these are often of lower significance to your resume than on-going activities, or achievements mentioned above. Only do these if you really enjoy them.

During the HSC

You should be more careful about how you spend your time in year 12th. Generally, it is a good idea to pause most of your extracurricular activities once year 12th starts (i.e. end of term 3 of year 11), since HSC is most important at this time. If you can intelligently manage time with your management skills (which is also very important), you can easily choose to continue doing all activities related to school duty.

Make good use of your holidays- Get Prepare for your HSC.

The Christmas / summer holidays are the longest holiday period in your HSC year. You have about 6 weeks to relax and refresh yourself before the 2010 school year starts. However, students often use these holiday periods to gain a competitive advantage over their peers by reading ahead in their textbooks, or reading all of their English texts in advance. One of our students finished her entire English Extension 2 major work in these holidays!

Of course, the advantage with working harder in the holidays, is that it lightens the load later on in the HSC year. Given that you have 6 weeks of holidays in the summer, it is probably wise to spend 3 or so weeks preparing for your HSC. Every bit of extra preparation translates to results in the HSC, since you only have a year. Once school starts, you may find the pace very fast, and everything examinable is taught once only before the teacher moves on.

So how can you prepare for the year ahead? Study ahead, of course.

This is one of the examples of how successful students study differently from average students. By learning ahead, you gain familiarity of the topics and content that would be taught to your peers for the very first time later in the HSC year. Shortly after this event, the exam comes. So who would do better? The student who has seen the same material before, has experienced and overcome the common pitfalls and challenges, and has had plenty of opportunity to ask their teacher relevant questions before the exam? Or the student who let it all go during the holidays, and had a great time, then learnt the content for the first time at a rush-pace prior to the exams?

Of course, it is perfectly OK to relax during the Holidays – after all, it’s holidays! But now is early January, you’ve already had a couple of weeks to enjoy the Christmas and New Year festivities. You’re now well-rested, relaxed and refreshed. It’s time to get seriously serious!

What can I do in my holidays, on my own?

During the holidays, you’re all on your own. Most likely, your friends are still partying, and probably your teachers too. Tutoring colleges are closed, (except those few running holiday courses), and everyone’s still on holidays. So whatever self-study you do, it would have to be something you can do by yourself.

Luckily, for most students, teachers and tutoring helps most AFTER you’ve done some self-reading. With some self-discipline and solid effort, core content can be learned on your own.

For science subjects

Read a GOOD textbook. get-hsc

For Chemistry, pick up a copy of Conquering Chemistry, or Chemistry in Contexts, and read as much as you can. For Physics, you can’t go wrong with Jacaranda, or Macquarie. As a guideline, completely revise the first module (you would have done this at school in term 4, 2009) and read the entire second module. If you have our notes from term 4, re-read all of them too! Avoid the Excel ones as they are a bit superficial in depth.

Don’t worry about practice questions yet, but make sure you UNDERSTAND concepts

At this early stage, don’t get too caught up with practice questions. Do one or two per section to test your knowledge, then move on. Remember, you have other subjects to study for! The most important thing is to UNDERSTAND the concepts. For example, make sure you KNOW how Lenz’s law works, how those right-hand push/palm/grip rules work, etc.

Read the syllabus and reconcile it with what you’ve read in textbooks

After you’ve read the textbooks, read through the syllabus for the modules you studied, and make sure every dot-point in those modules have been covered by what you’ve read. It’s a good idea to do this after you read the textbooks, as textbooks often give you richer background information necessary to understand the full picture of certain concepts. However you can choose to read the syllabus before you start reading textbooks.

For mathematics

Do exercises off a good textbook

Mathematics is really a practice game. The more practice you get, the more experienced you become. There are only so many ways a maths question can be designed for any topic area, and the more experience you have, the less likely you will be caught unaware in the exam. Simple, really, but success in maths requires dedication, which is easier said than done.

Good textbooks are Fitzpatrick (for 2U and 3U), Cambridge, and don’t forget the forgotten classics like Coroneos (excellent for 4 unit harder questions).

For English

Read your texts in advance

Find how what novels you need to read, and read through them these holidays. This subject is probably the easiest to study ahead for, as it involves a leisure activity (for some) – reading!

Just be aware of the thematic considerations that are relevant to your module as you read through your texts.

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