Going into Year 11 and starting senior high school can seem daunting. As the HSC looms, you might be feeling pressure from those around you to focus more on your studies. But how exactly should you go about that? Here are some tips to help you feel the most prepared for senior school so that you can achieve your best without the stress.
1. Go Through the NESA Syllabus 📝
The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) has a web page for each HSC subject, where you can access materials such as the syllabus, sample examination questions and other support materials. You can access that here.
Reading through the syllabus for each of your chosen subjects is a great way to understand the aims of the course, as well as the course structure and the specific topics that you will be covering. The syllabus dot points clearly outline what it is required of you to know.
Depending on your subject, it might be helpful to structure your notes based upon the syllabus dot points as subheadings. This makes it easier for you to refer to them before your examinations to check that you have understood all of the required content.
2. Read Your Prescribed Texts 📚
HSC English is a compulsory subject in NSW, which means that you will definitely have been assigned some texts to read! The more times that you read your prescribed texts, the more depth of understanding you will gain, and you’ll begin to pick up more and more details. Further, it will make the eventual process of memorising quotes for your exams a lot easier, as you will already be very familiar with the scenes and context of the text.
Getting a headstart and reading the texts in the holidays before the school term begins means that you will already have an understanding of the plot points, and thus can already focus your attention on analysis during class. When conducting a first reading of your text, you don’t necessarily need to make any notes - just reading it is helpful in itself! However, while you read, you may want to make some preliminary notes about what you think are the prominent themes, or bookmark key scenes.
3. Set Habits and Systems, Not Just Goals 💪
Quoting from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits – “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there.” Here’s a link to his Habit Guide.
Setting goals alone is often not enough to drive you to your destination – you need a system made up of consistent habits to provide you with concrete directions! If your goals for the new school year is simply, for example, to:
- meditate more,
- be productive in the evenings,
- do better in English
then these arbitrary goals are likely to fall apart when your academic life gets busy, despite having them written in front of your desk. Aiming for a goal you can’t control also brings frustration when you fail to complete them.
Try breaking them into smaller, more specific and measurable habits that you can achieve everyday:
- meditate more → whenever I am commuting on the train, I will plug in my headphones and do a 10 minute meditation session and think about what I’m thankful for today instead of scrolling through social media
- be productive in the evenings → one hour before my bedtime every night, I will open my schedule/calendar app and note down any tasks that I’d like to tackle after school on the next day
- do better in English → during my walk home, I will read aloud 5 quotes from my English text until I have memorised them
You may not notice any huge differences after a week or even a month, but over time you will have these systems built that will keep you accountable - now give it a try!
4. Try Calendar Blocking 🗓
Most of you would already have a calendar - either a digital one or a paper version - where you keep all your important dates. However, a lot of students still struggle with time management, mostly due to:
- Underestimating how long a task takes
- Getting distracted (by phones or other errands)
- Feeling unmotivated or burnt out
Instead of keeping a never-ending to-do list, have a go at scheduling them into different hours of your day (using your schedule book/Google calendar/iCalendar). Other than scheduling in your study sessions, you should also actively plan time for exercising, having meals, and having some down time with yourself!
If you find yourself consistently taking longer than you think to complete a task, try doubling the time period that you initially would have blocked out! Having time left and being on top of your scheduled tasks will likely keep you more motivated than feeling like you’re falling behind.
There are a lot more articles online explaining time-blocking, here’s one of them: Work from a calendar and not a to-do list.
5. Get Extra Support 💕
If you’re looking for some extra support to transition into senior school, and to continue to achieve at a high level throughout Year 11 and Year 12 into the HSC, Project Academy is here to help. We offer tutoring classes to help keep you ahead of your peers and we provide unlimited support 24/7 even when you’re out of the clasroom. Our teachers have vast knowledge of the HSC subjects that they teach, including many state-rankers.
Project Academy is not just a tuition centre, we’re here to be your extended family, to help you achieve your very best in the HSC and be there for you every step of the way. We offer a value 3-week trial so you can see if Project is the right fit for you. We hope to see you around 🥰