22 Things I Wish I Knew About the HSC

22 Things I Wish I Knew About the HSC

Written by Vamshika Bakshi


Trust yourself

I had a teacher in year 12 who thought yelling at kids and pulling them aside after class to convince them to drop the subject would kick start them into doing better. He used to demand one practice essay each day and bully kids that said they haven’t done them. I knew that for me, doing practice essays wasn’t helpful and created unnecessary pressure on top of our already endless list of tasks and assessments. I didn’t let myself be bullied, I didn’t do a single practice essay or drop the subject scored a solid band 6 in the HSC.


Drown out the white noise of other people’s expectations

The last thing you need is other people’s expectations mixing with the pressure you put on yourself, making an unhealthy cocktail of unrealistic ideas. Just do your best and get the hell out of there.


Know your strengths

HSC is all about playing to your strengths, improving and perfecting what you already do well. This is not the time to start learning Flemish. This is the time to do what you know you can do and figure out ways to do it better.


Find like-minded people

If you’re in a group of friends who couldn’t care less about what happens, it’s so easy to buy into that mentality. Surround yourself with people who try to do their best and won’t look down on you for practising your English speech in the library.


Treat it like Fight Club

The only rule of the HSC is don’t talk about the HSC. Seriously, find better topics of conversation. There will be never ending obsessive HSC chatter and it does nothing but make you feel worse. Remember that there are other things that exist.


Know that your parents and teachers are more stressed than you

If they’re strict, it’s because they love you and want you to do well. Take their stern glances as a hug of support. They have even less control over the situation than you do!


Set your boundaries

It’s important to remember that the HSC is about you. To get the best out of your parents, friends and teachers, be clear about what helps you and what doesn’t. I made a list of things my parents should do while I was studying. Rule 1. Bring tea at regular intervals.


Treat yo self

Post exam maccas runs are essential. Treat yo self to a McFlurry or a post exam curry, you name it you deserve it.


Laughter drowns out impending sobs

Have a giggle with mates over the ridiculous HSC memes and non-stop banter: “11%?” this video has buffered to my estimated ATAR’. Seriously, it’s therapeutic.


Don’t obsess over marks

Easier said than done, but remember all you can do is your best. The rest is out of your hands.


Avoid people who obsess over marks

These people are toxic barbs on a deadly stonefish. Careful not to get to close.


Avoid self-proclaimed HSC gurus

These people are not mutually exclusive with the people above, but these could even include ex-students. Everyone’s HSC needs are different and there’s no one proven method to the top.


Be kind to yourself

This is a stressful time! Love yourself, take a bath and go out for ice cream when you feel down. Remember that the HSC is an opportunity, not a reflection of your self-worth.


Don’t burn yourself out

Don’t lock yourself away in your room and look at your laptop until your eyes are swimming and bleary and you don’t remember your name anymore. Mental exhaustion is a real thing and you’ll do well to avoid it early in the year because remember, the big one is at the end.


Anxiety can paralyse

A bit of anxiety can help you churn out those assessments but too much and you’ll be frozen, watching Gordon Ramsay videos until it’s 5am.


HSC is a pressure cooker

Remember the pressure builds as the year heats up.


Remember that 50% of your ATAR lies at the end

Remember what I said about not burning yourself out? This is why…


Treat the other assessments as practice rounds

Don’t get too worried about the thousands of little assessments at the end of each year. They do add up, but anything that goes wrong there can be fixed with trials and the HSC.


Don’t cut out all other activities

There’s nothing worse than finishing the HSC, still being on your L’s and several kilos heavier when you want to drive up to the beach. Maintain some form of exercise, get your driving licence and try to hold down some form of casual work. You’ll need it for schoolies.


If you need tutoring, don’t be afraid to ask

There’s no shame in needing help, but remember, tutoring doesn’t do anything without your concerted efforts.


If you don’t need tutoring, make sure you say so

Don’t be forced into pouring time and money down the drain.


If you do tutoring make sure it actually helps

Be vocal with your needs. Don’t be afraid to find another tutor if the one you have is not doing you justice.

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