With less than two weeks left till the first day of HSC exams 2011, how are you spending these last moments preparing for the big exams? Are you racked with nerves or taking it easy? Do you have a clear plan on how long to study for each subject? Are you worried about being unprepared for any particular subject?
Here are some tips for how to make the most of the last couple of days studying before your big exams.
Look at your exam timetable and work out which exams come first and so on. The 2011 HSC timetable is available here. Generally, it’s advised that you study for your last exam first, and your first exam last, that way you are studying for your first exam till the very last day before the first exam.
For example, for most people, English paper 1 and paper 2 will be their first exams. This means you should leave studying English till last, so that the content will be freshest in your mind just before 18th October when you sit paper 1, and the following day when you sit paper 2. For most people, there will be several days in between your next exam after English, so you can use these days to revisit the subject to be examined next. Don’t rest too much after each exam! The clock is ticking fast to your next one.
In paper 1, you have three sections. The first is short answers, the second is a creative writing task, and the third is almost always an essay (sometimes a speech, but usually an essay). You should do the essay first, then the short answers, and finally the creative writing task.
The reason is simple: in case you find yourself running out of time by the time you completed 2 sections, the creative writing tasks is the most forgiving section in that scenario than any other section. You can potentially grab most of the available marks in creative writing as long as your story contains all the necessary elements of a well-written story, and captures belonging in a meaningful way. But the same can’t be said for the essay – if you spend only 30 minutes on it, you would probably only be able to put in 75% of the points required.
The best advice for all levels of maths is to do as many past papers as possible. If you’re aiming for a band 6, focus on the question 7 and 8 (if you’re doing Maths Extension 1 or Maths Extension 2) or question 10 (for 2 unit students). These are the questions with the most creativity, and are the most difficult – getting good at doing these questions will differentiate you from the rest.
For the many maths (2 unit) students, remember not to neglect some commonly forgotten bits of info that will cost you easy marks:
For higher levels of Maths (Ext. 1 and 2), know your integration substitutions. It’s easy to forget which situations demand which technique.
All questions are of the same value, but are in increasing difficulty. Try to go through the exam as quickly as possible the first time around, and skip the questions where you can’t immediately see the path to the answer. Then use the time left over to focus on the skipped questions and also check your work. Don’t get too comfortable with a slow pace at the early questions!
For extension 2, some less obvious things that will help you are: know your speed of curves (helps with graphing undefined / undefined situations), know how to apply LIATE (google it if you’ve never heard of it!) for integration by parts – to work out which bit to set as u and which to set as v.
Think about this: each HSC exam you do now is worth the total of everything you’ve done for that subject at school for the entire year 12. All the preparation you put in for your half yearlies, trials and assessment tasks throughout year 12 – each exam now is worth the total of all of that for one subject. That’s why, now is the worst time to lose focus. You’re at the home stretch now, but your focus and dedication is needed most here.
On the other hand, it’s important also to not get too stressed out. Stress is good – it leads to productivity, and this short term stress before these big exams is normal, but don’t let it negatively affect you. Do your best, and you will be fine.
Don’t lose perspective – there’s a bright future waiting for you regardless of how things go now. Do try your best, but don’t think it’s the end of the world if you don’t get the ATAR you need. There are alternative ways of getting into the Uni course you desire.