5 Essential study habits to master your HSC
Studying for school assessments and the HSC is the last thing any student would want to do, but it is an unavoidable path if you want to succeed in the HSC.
Though the HSC is at the end of the year, it is important to develop good study habits as soon as possible. Otherwise it is inevitable that you will find yourself struggling to cram in all the revision and practice papers within the last week before your exams.
At EIM we strive to make things easier for you, so we have compiled some essential study habits to help boost your marks in all your exams – this will be a 5 part series that will help you master your HSC!
1. Starting early
One of the most fundamental tips is to develop good studying habits early – your study techniques actually need time before they become habits.
Once you know your school timetable and any extracurricular activities, allocate study time as a part of your daily routine straight away rather than fitting in study time whenever you feel like it (which is probably not a lot of time).
Create your own methods of notetaking and keep the same routine throughout the year (don’t over-complicate it by using 20 different colours, just keep it simple and easy). Soon enough this will become a habit and you will have your own set of organised notes by the end of the year that you can easily refer to in your exam preparations – if you want a blog post about how to effectively make study notes, don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below and let us know.
Review your notes every week so that you can refresh yourself on what you have learnt as well as preparing yourself to learn new concepts which build on previous work. By revising a small amount each week, you will know all the content required for the HSC well before the exams and can focus on practising with questions and past papers. You will have avoided the last-minute-cram-everything phase that other students will have to go through, and you will be at a major advantage.
(Don’t forget to join our holiday programs to learn content ahead of your school schedule and stay on top of your studies! You will be able to gain in-depth knowledge of every syllabus dot point and learn all the tips and tricks to help you in your exams. It will be much easier for you to maintain your good study habits without the stress of learning everything brand new during the term. Check out our website or contact us for more information!)
2. Time Management
Managing your study time well is the key to a successful student. If you don’t already have a wall planner or calendar, I would highly suggest you get one (sit tight, we have one coming very soon). This allows you to plan your month (or year) holistically so you are able to organise your schedule and write down any due dates or exam periods. By physically looking at a calendar or wall planner, it can act as an effective reminder of any deadlines you have and to motivate you to study.
Set some to-do lists for what you need to do for each week, as well as what you want to accomplish in your study sessions. To-do lists help keep you on track and break things down so that your life is more manageable. Then allocate an hour or two each day dedicated to completing your to-do lists – whether it’s homework, past papers or revising content.
Toward the end of the year or nearing exam periods, give yourself a few more hours for study. Write out your study sessions onto a calendar or set reminders on your phone to ensure that you actually stick to your study schedule – trust us, it will be a huge benefit for you in the long run. You might (probably will) find it very difficult to stick to this daily schedule, but it is important that you don’t procrastinate your study sessions. If you do, you will retain much less information and your studying will be much less effective (basically your hard work would be wasted). If you have an assignment or assessment task coming up, allocate some more time in your schedule to finish off your tasks early (do NOT leave it to the night before!).
Don’t forget to allocate time for socialising and your hobbies! Making time for your hobbies is just as important as making time to study. You are much more likely to stick to your schedule if your study time works around your leisure time.
3. Avoiding Procrastination
Create an effective study environment for yourself. Some students prefer studying in complete silence, whilst others need some background music to focus. Some like studying at home, but others get too distracted so they study at a library. Some students like to study in the morning and some students work better in the evenings. It really depends on the style of learner you are, but it is important to maintain an environment with little to no distractions to keep you on track. Don’t forget you can always come into EIM to study! We have workshops everyday so you can ask any questions you may have regarding school work or EIM homework.
If you like studying on your own, clear your desk of any rubbish or unessential items for your study. Make sure your desk has enough room for any textbooks and notebooks to be laid out freely. Turn off any distractions – choose to study offline as the temptation of opening a new tab on your laptop is very hard to resist. If your laptop is a necessary part of your study routine, download an app which can block certain websites for an hour or two so that you can maximise the use of your study time. Keep your phone away from your reach, or similarly download an app to prevent you from checking your notifications every few minutes (we will have a post on all the apps that can help you resist using your phone whilst studying coming very soon!).
If you are a social learner, get a study group going so you can easily give or receive help and work on building knowledge together. Teaching friends also tests your own understanding of a concept and reveals holes in your knowledge. In the long run, it allows for a greater retention of content. The group participation will mean that you will complete homework or assessment tasks much more efficiently and you are exposed to more ideas. (But this also means you can get distracted by your friends and it will end up as a social gathering, so make sure you do not stray away from discussing issues relevant to your studies!) When forming study groups, make sure you study with people who are motivated and won’t be distracting.
Have a small snack before you start studying so that you don’t feel hungry during your study session and lose concentration. Grab a bottle of water for your desk so you won’t feel the need to get up whilst you’re working. Once you break your studying flow, it is much harder to continue working and distractions will be unavoidable.
4. Practise, practise, practise
Doing practice questions are a foolproof way to retain your knowledge of concepts. For sciences, do practice papers that have good sample answers so you learn how to reproduce quality answers to a range of short and long response questions. For maths, constantly work through heaps of questions from a variety of sources to gain experience on how to approach each type of question.
Browse through HSC101 to make sure you understand all the mathematical concepts. We have over 1200 videos which guide you through the theory and solutions of every topic. If you don’t know how to answer a question or are unsure about some theory, you can easily browse through the HSC101 page to find clarification on whatever you’re uncertain about. But if you’re confident in all the theory, attempt the example questions on your own to make sure you fully grasp the concepts.
Also get your hands on different types of textbooks – exposing yourself to a variety of question styles is an extremely effective way to test and apply your knowledge (don’t worry about buying new ones, you can borrow from some friends or check out the study resources at the library – don’t forget you can ask us too!). You will be able to figure out your weaker areas and resolve any issues as soon as possible. This will make you more confident in yourself and you will have developed invaluable skills that help you overcome any question they might throw at you. Research on top students’ learning habits show that those who do heaps of practice questions before exams perform significantly better.
Make sure you attempt past papers under exam conditions – no referencing any notes or formulas, and only allocate the amount of time given for the paper. You will develop your exam techniques and gain experience in understanding how much time should be spent on each question. Familiarise yourself with the formula sheets and data sheets given to you with your exam paper [click for BOSTES chemistry, physics] so you know where each formula is and won’t be frantically flipping your paper during precious exam time. (If you have practised well enough, you should have memorised all the important data and formula you would need to use in the exam and won’t require the use of data/formula sheets!) You will be much more time-effective in your exams and won’t have the stress of running out of time. This will not only maximise your exam marks, but you will have a much greater advantage over your peers who only do a minimal amount of practice questions before the HSC exams – your hard work will pay off!
5. Take breaks and relax
It is essential to take breaks while you’re studying – working for too long will actually counteract the effectiveness of your studying. Study in hour blocks and take a 20 to 30 minute break in between – go for a quick walk, have a snack, quickly check any notifications (but don’t take it as the end of your studying). Taking breaks will boost your productivity and improve your focus.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep each night, as this will help you understand and retain information much more effectively. Aim for around 8 – 9 hours every night – oversleeping can cause you to feel tired when you wake up. Drinking plenty of water during your study time is also important to keep yourself hydrated and have the energy to work effectively.
If you are feeling stressed out, dedicate some time to destress and rest up. Just because you are studying every day, does not mean you have to give up everything else. Take time to meet up with friends, play some sport or read – this is just as important as studying.