1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK & PAY ATTENTION DURING CLASSES
One thing I really wish I had done more is to pay attention and actively engage during school classes. A lot of the times I dismissed what was being taught during class hours because I had already gone over it in tutoring. Looking back, this was a huge waste of time for me because I would just chat with friends when I could've used that opportunity
to revise and test myself to see whether I had retained what I learnt months ago at tutoring. I would then use my after school hours to try and revise and test myself, which could've easily been done during class. I would've had more time after school to pursue hobbies or go outside more. Another thing is doing my homework on time. Sometimes when I was really busy during assessment periods I wouldn't finish my tutoring homework and I would tell myself I would complete it once I finished all my school assessments. This could work out in theory but at some point you find yourself drowning in all this homework you pushed back and it makes it a lot harder to catch up later. Also, trying to catch up on 3 weeks of
homework in one week is really content-heavy and trying to understand harder concepts all at once is straining.
So I really recommend that you do your homework on time so you have time to let the information sit and ask questions during lesson times when they're relevant. I know it seems really bothersome when you have 3 school assessments coming up, but seriously take an hour to go over some homework questions, you'll thank yourself later down the
track. Also, if you miss out on homework for 3 or so weeks, the following tutoring lessons will make no sense to you and then you'll have to set aside even more time to try and catch up. Trust me, an hour doing the homework now is 100% worth it. Additionally, take your school homework seriously. Looking back I wish I had taken the opportunity to give it my best and reflect on it as well as follow-up with teachers to ask for their opinions on my answers/responses. At the end of the day, your internal HSC marks are being assessed by your school teachers, so you want to be writing an answer they agree with.
2. DON'T STOP YOUR EXTRA-CURRICULARS
I put my life on hold just to focus on the HSC and if I could go back in time, I wish I hadn't. Having completed my uni degree now - which is much more intensive than the HSC - I realized in the last few years, you can have a life outside of studies/work and still do really well. I actually carried on this mindset of focusing on studies up until my second year of uni but then I realized it was so inefficient and pointless to carry on like that. Now I'm able to balance meeting friends, having a number of hobbies, working and studying full-time. The big secret? Just be consistent and organised.
• Pay attention during class when you're supposed to, then you won't have to revise as longer and instead you can do other things during that time.
• Have a schedule, allocate specific days of the week you dedicate to each part of your responsibilities/hobbies/social life. Try to stick to this because then it makes it easier for you plan around
• Do your homework every week during the allotted time.
• Ask questions during class so that you don't have to ask them later down the track.
• Have hobbies you enjoy and have time for them regularly each week.
The HSC is a marathon, not a sprint. If you try to cram or do too much at once, you'll burn out. Having the mindset that
you'll rest once you attain a goal is unrealistic because once you're there, you'll have another goal to achieve. Sure, you might get a short break, but that's only temporary. If you decide to go to university, you'll be sitting final exams every
10-14 weeks not to mention different assignments that need to be submitted throughout the term. These exams are just as hard, if not harder than the HSC. On top of that, most university students work part-time/full-time until they are able to land a full-time job. If you put what's to come into perspective, you'll realise how hard it would be to put your life on hold just to do well in an exam. You need to learn how to balance your responsibilities and down time. It's definitely possible, all it takes is a bit of organization and consistent effort.
3. INVEST IN GOOD TUTORS WHO CARE ABOUT YOU
I've gone to tutoring since I was young and I've attended all the big tutoring companies, the ones that have multiple branches throughout Sydney and provide a huge range of services including UCAT. I think halfway into year 11, I decided I wanted to change to a smaller tutoring company, mainly because although I had spent years at these tutoring companies, the teachers didn't really know me and my needs. The tutoring companies had a revolving door of new teachers and students and I just wanted some stability and someone who could focus on me and my HSC journey. That's when I found out about SKY through a mutual friend and I took a free trial for Maths, Physics and Chemistry and I really enjoyed it. The booklets they give cover every sort of question you will encounter in the HSC, and it is explained so in-depth and they catered the lesson around what I needed the most help with. I aIso trialed a private one-on-one tutor at the time and that experience was also really good but the issue with private tutors is that they don't have the resources that tutoring companies have to offer. I think it's really important to find early on, a tutor that you really connect with, who knows about you and your life and what your aspirations are for the HSC and someone who can provide you mentorship throughout your senior years. I think that's why I really enjoyed experience at SKY.
I remember the night before one of exams, I was really stressing out because I couldn't understand the answer to a practice question. It was around 2am at the time and I texted the question to YS (the Head Maths Teacher) and he actually called me and we went through the whole practice exam together step-by-step and I remember right after I finished my exam the next day, he texted me asking me how I went. This was when I realized I had chosen the right tutor for me. Moral of the story is, find a tutor that invests in you and actually cares about you. I've had some reaIIy good experiences with private tutors and smaller tutoring companies. I think having tailored help is the most important in year 11 and 12. Big classes work perfectly fine from primary school to Year 10, aside from selective school tutoring, which I think also requires more tailored tutoring services.