Worried about the HSC? 8 practical (and free) things you can do this week to get ready

For young adults doing the HSC, 2020 might seem daunting. So much information to absorb, with so little time!

And spare a thought for students with language disorders, reading problems and other learning difficulties. Many overwhelmed students don’t know where to start.

Fear not!

To help our clients and readers, we’ve been talking to recent HSC graduates and their parents about useful tips to cope and thrive. Here are our top 8 to date: all free and easy to implement in a couple of hours!

1. Make up a single “HSC Master Folder”: Get a lever arch file and label it: “HSC Master Folder”. Put coloured tabs in it – one for each subject you are studying.

2. Assign a coloured tab to each subject: For example, you might assign blue to Advanced English and orange to Mathematics. Use the colours to sort out all your notes/materials. For instance, keep all your English notes in blue folders, and your Maths notes in orange folders.

3. To understand HSC assignment and exam questions so you can answer them properly, learn (and review) the key exam words that appear frequently in HSC exams across multiple subjects.

Need a list of words to learn? Here you go:

AccountAccount for: state reasons for, report on.
Give an account of: narrate a series of events or transactions
AnalyseIdentify components and the relationship between them; draw out and relate implications
ApplyUse, utilise, employ in a particular situation
AppreciateMake a judgement about the value of
AssessMake a judgement of value, quality, outcomes, results or size
CalculateAscertain/determine from given facts, figures or information
ClarifyMake clear or plain
ClassifyArrange or include in classes/categories
CompareShow how things are similar or different
ConstructMake; build; put together items or arguments
ContrastShow how things are different or opposite
Critically (analyse/evaluate)Add a degree or level of accuracy depth, knowledge and understanding, logic, questioning, reflection and quality to (analyse/evaluate)
DeduceDraw conclusions
DefineState meaning and identify essential qualities
DemonstrateShow by example
DescribeProvide characteristics and features
DiscussIdentify issues and provide points for and/or against
DistinguishRecognise or note/indicate as being distinct or different from; to note differences between
EvaluateMake a judgement based on criteria; determine the value of
ExamineInquire into
ExplainRelate cause and effect; make the relationships between things evident; provide why and/or how
ExtractChoose relevant and/or appropriate details
ExtrapolateInfer from what is known
IdentifyRecognise and name
InterpretDraw meaning from
InvestigatePlan, inquire into and draw conclusions about
JustifySupport an argument or conclusion
OutlineSketch in general terms; indicate the main features of
PredictSuggest what may happen based on available information
ProposePut forward (for example a point of view, idea, argument, suggestion) for consideration or action
RecallPresent remembered ideas, facts or experiences
RecommendProvide reasons in favour
RecountRetell a series of events
SummariseExpress, concisely, the relevant details
SynthesisePutting together various elements to make a whole

Source: NSW Education Standards Authority, A Glossary of Key Words

Most of these words are verbs and so-called “Tier-2” academic words – words that crop up across different subjects. Knowing these words is a huge help when reading school texts and answering essay and exam questions for most subjects.

4. Spend an hour (or two) learning about effective study techniques so you don’t waste time learning inefficiently:

(a) Read our article about free effective study techniques.

(b) Watch this short (8 minutes) YouTube video for 6 research-backed ways to study better.


(c)  Go to the terrific Learning Scientists website for more details on each of these 6 strategies (including free downloads).

(d) Read HSC study guides, such as the ones available from The Sydney Morning Herald and the NSW Education Standard Authority (NESA).

5. Download a copy of the syllabus for each subject you are studying. For students in New South Wales, you can download each syllabus from NESA here.

6. For each syllabus you’ve downloaded, print the content and objectives/outcomes sections and put them in your HSC Master Folder. These tell you what you are expected to know for assignments and the exam.

7. Download and print the most recent available past exam papers for each subject you are studying, then put them behind the syllabus in your HSC Master Folder. (As we note here, doing practice exam papers is one of the best, evidence-based ways to improve your learning (and exam results)). It’s also a great way for you to practice remembering things under time constraints. You can access past NSW HSC exam papers from NESA here.

8. Most importantly, stay healthy – exercise, sleep and eat well, and keep things in perspective.

We hope you find these tips useful. As 2020 rolls on, we plan to add more tips.

Good luck!

Related resources:

Related articles:

Image: https://tinyurl.com/qat2qrz

Man wearing glasses and a suit, standing in front of a bay

Hi there, I’m David Kinnane.

Principal Speech Pathologist, Banter Speech & Language

Our talented team of certified practising speech pathologists provide unhurried, personalised and evidence-based speech pathology care to children and adults in the Inner West of Sydney and beyond, both in our clinic and via telehealth.

David Kinnane
Speech-Language Pathologist. Lawyer. Father. Reader. Writer. Speaker.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard