Monthly Archives: February 2010

HSC Maths (2 unit) – finding stationary points (PART I)

(HSC Maths 2 unit ) Jacqui from Dux College shows us an easy way to find the nature of stationary points. Question 5 of the HSC 2006 2 unit paper is used as an example of how to use these easy methods.

HSC Exams – How to Manage Time?

Do you always run out of time in exams? Do you struggle to finish your exams?

If you find it hard to finish your exams, it might be a time management issue. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to manage your

School and HSC exams are 2 – 3 hours each

Whether it’s English, Maths, or one of the sciences, school and HSC exams are structured similarly. Throughout the year, you’re going to have several 2 hour exams for each subject (at least your half-yearlies) and you might get a 3 hour exam in your trials.

Our first tip is: don’t be scared of 3 hour exams. If you’re already used to 2 hour exams, 3 hours is not a whole lot longer. After your first one or two, you’ll be used to them as well. The important thing is to find a consistent pace at which to do the exam, and you’ll notice that time will fly as you’re focused throughout the exam.

Use your reading time In assessable and HSC exams, the first 5 minutes is reading time. The first thing you should do is have a quick look at the entire exam. Flip through the exam pages and get a feel for how fast you’ll need to work. This step is critical.

Sometimes, especially in school exams written by your school teachers, you will get an exam that will be very tight on time. Other times, you will get an exam that is very easy on time.

If you feel the exam is very loose on time, you can work more slowly and carefully – if it’s an English or science exam, you can expand your answers a bit more, elaborate on things to show your extensive knowledge.

On the other hand, if you feel that the exam will be tight on time, you’ll need to work quickly and not expect to have much checking time at the end. This is difficult if you’re not adequately prepared (i.e. you didn’t study enough!), but working fast isn’t hard if you’re prepared.

Know your stuff

Needless to say, to do well in any exam, the number one factor is to know your stuff (know what you need to learn, and learn it well). But this is especially important if you want to score a great mark in an exam that is tight on time. If you need to work at a fast pace, and you don’t know your stuff entirely, expect to be disappointed.

Know the exam format

Another important point is to know how the exam is going to be structured. For example, if you have a multiple choice section in your upcoming exam, pay attention to the differences between issues / facts / arguments / persons / things of significance etc.

The reason why is this: multiple choice questions are great at testing differences between things in your subject. The knowledge stuff will be tested in short / long answer responses and in essay questions. You can usually easily eliminate 2 choices out of 4, but the remaining 2 choices can sometimes be hard to differentiate – so to effectively study multiple choice, pay attention to the small differences!

If your exam is predominately long answer / essay response, focus on deeper discussion of your subject area. For example, if you have a Chemistry exam about Chemical Monitoring and Management, and you know there’s a big essay response question at the end, focus on areas of the topic that feature deeper discussion. For example, learn the reasons for compromise in the Haber process and understand the deeper discussions that link with other parts of the Chemistry course (chemical equilibria) as well as commercial considerations of Haber plants.

Do multiple choice questions last

This is optional and may not be recommended in all situations (because sometimes multiple choice questions give clues to the answers of subsequent sections).

But in most cases, it is OK to do the multiple choice section last. The reason is: in case you run out of time, you can quickly circle the answers randomly at the end in a matter of seconds, and you should still get 25% of the marks (assuming there are 4 choices per question).

This is just a small risk-management technique. As an excellent student, you should be expecting to finish your exam anyway.

Running out of time in Science / English exams

Don’t be averse to using dot-points to quickly convey your answer in case you run out of time. For example, when the examiner states there’s 5 minutes left, and you still have a huge essay section that you haven’t started, then it’s time to do this.

Obviously you won’t get full marks for an essay question if your answer is in dot-points, but you will get SOME marks, and when you’re running out of time, this is better than nothing.

For example, in a long English essay, write out the main points quickly in short dot-points. In long science essay questions, do the same, and scribble a diagram if you can. As long as you get something down that shows you know the theory involved, your marker should give you at least half the marks.

Find more information on helpful HSC exams tips, HSC examination syllabus & HSC course materials at Dux College. Our Physics, Chemistry and Maths tuition programs are intensive and results driven, aimed at giving our students the skills to achieve Band 6, and their highest potential UAI.

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