Staying resilient as you balance life and study
It’s your HSC year and you’ve already faced down a global pandemic. Now you’re probably thinking about how you’re going to remember everything come exam time.
Getting here meant calling on your resilience, flexibility and adaptability. Have you thought about applying those characteristics to the way you study?
You might think long cram sessions are your ticket to high HSC marks; your only game plan is to highlight and reread textbooks in the days leading up to exams.
2020 has taught us all that we can successfully take a different approach. For many students, those long cram sessions are not very effective. There are other ways to retain information and deepen your understanding of topics and concepts – better ways.
In this edition of the HSC Study Guide, we hear from experts and students on how to study more effectively, including evidence-based learning techniques. You can focus on one method or combine a few to create a structured study program for your HSC year.
Creating a structured study program of your own might even help reduce exam stress. While some stress is good and helps you perform at your best, stress can become unhealthy and you need to know the signs and take steps to manage it. Keep looking after yourself; reach out to family, friends and your teachers if you need to.
Remember to include regular breaks in your study routine. Pausing for a moment to relax and reboot will improve productivity and help you stay motivated.
It can be hard to step away from study with an exam looming but your mind, body and even your academic performance will benefit.
Paul Martin, CEO, NSW Education Standards Authority
Perspective is key
You are undoubtedly experiencing a range of different emotions right now. An unusual mix of nerves and excitement, eager to finish exams and wondering what the next chapter of your life might hold.
These are all ‘normal’ emotions in what has been an abnormal year for all of us. COVID-19 and the impact it has had on you, your families, your schools and your communities has been challenging but has also helped you uncover a layer of resolve and resilience you may not have known you had.
The HSC will require hard work and focus over the coming months and I urge you to keep things in perspective and your health front of mind.
I want you to do well but, more importantly, I want you to be well.
Staying active is so important and something I encourage you to do whenever you can. Whether it is walking, yoga or CrossFit – or something completely different – it’s about finding what works for you.
It is also just as important to keep talking. This can be a morning chat with friends or family in the car on the way to school, a Zoom catch-up or just calling someone who makes you smile. Talking helps us to feel connected and connections make us stronger.
Finally, I encourage you to find ways to unwind and channel any built-up stress into something productive. There are good levels of stress that we use to motivate us and succeed. Nothing is healthy in excess; you know better than anyone what your threshold is. If things are getting too much, stop, take a breath and please ask for help.
You should be so proud of yourselves for what you have already accomplished during a period of significant disruption. Now is the time to refocus and push on.
Congratulations and know that I and the rest of NSW are backing you all the way to the finish line.
Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning
How moderation works
Moderation is a way to make sure every student receives an assessment mark that is fair, no matter which school you attended. Here’s how it’s done.
Same but different
Every student completing each HSC course sits the same exam. But students at different schools complete different assessment tasks.
The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) starts by moderating your school assessment mark.
1. The rank order of students stays the same.
2. When the HSC exam papers are marked:
- the top assessment mark is adjusted to equal the top HSC mark
- the bottom assessment mark is adjusted to equal the bottom HSC mark
- the mean of the assessment mark is adjusted to equal the mean of the HSC exam. The revised assessment mean is used to determine the remaining assessment marks
3. The relative gaps between each assessment mark within your school remain.
4. Additional checks and balances make sure no one is disadvantaged.
5. NESA calculates your HSC mark by adding 50 per cent of your moderated school assessment and 50 per cent of your exam mark.
Disability provisions: the basics
Students who have received adjustments for assessments during the year or who believe they will need support to access the HSC exams can apply for disability provisions.
Disabilities (e.g. learning, medical, vision or hearing) that would, in a normal exam situation, prevent you from:
- reading exam questions
- communicating responses
What’s not covered?
- Conditions that may or may not occur during an exam (e.g. migraines), except when something might trigger or contribute to a condition (e.g. if fluorescent lighting frequently results in a migraine, you can request to sit near a window)
- Lost preparation time (e.g. musical instrument broken months before the HSC)
- Reading difficulties that could be the result of English being an additional language
Types of provisions
- Braille or large-print papers
- Use of a writer and/or reader
- Extra exam time
- Rest breaks
- Small group supervision
- Permission to take medication
How to apply
1. Tell your school if you think you need a provision. The school will explain the application process and eligibility requirements.
2. Your school completes the application. You will need to provide the following documents:
- evidence of a diagnosed disability and its impact on you in an exam situation
- functional evidence (e.g. reading, spelling and writing results)
- comments from teachers on your exam needs and current provisions (if used)
3. Your school submits the application to the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).
4. NESA sends the decision to your school, and they’ll let you know.
What is illness/misadventure?
You can get special consideration if something happens – you fall ill or have an accident – directly before or during the HSC exam period that:
- prevents you from attending one or more exams
- affects your performance in one or more exams
Let your exam supervisor or principal know what happened on the day or as soon as possible. In the meantime, attend all exams if possible.