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How to excel in senior year studies (yr 11/12)

Hi Everyone,
My name is Mei and I am a 2013 HSC graduate. This thread is a collation of all my study
tips for senior years and now it is all in one place for easier access rather than in
miscellaneous different threads. I am fully aware of the fundamental fact that different
study techniques will work for different individuals-after all, we are all UNIQUE , so this
guide just serves as a summary of what I have learnt from my senior high school and
what has helped me to be an HSC All Rounder.
I would also like to say a big thank you to BOS user, HAWKRIDER. He encouraged me to
start a guide like this-without his support, I would never have thought that collating all
my advice in one thread would be so helpful to others and also would in turn, encourage
other people to contribute. Thanks again!
Please feel free to comment on this guide-whether you have personal study
tips you could like to share, whether you found this guide to be helpful,
whether you could like me to clarify or elaborate on anything I have said in this
guide. Your replies will make sure that this guide will remain as relevant to
current Preliminary students as possible
What to do in the summer holidays before Year 11 starts
In the summer holidays, you should focus on making sure you have a prepared
psychological mindset for senior year studies and you need to make sure you have
consistent performance in all your subjects-consistency is very important-both in your
academic performance(I am talking about at optimal levels) as well as consistency in
your study routine, learning methods and sleeping patterns
Don't study 24/7 because you will wreck your body and by then your ATAR will become
meaningless if you destroy your health-take care of yourself, do relax a bit in the
holidays-you need enough relaxation to get you to keep working very hard for the next
two years-and I think if you prepare your psychological mindset over the holidays, it will
help you even more than pure attaining academic knowledge for year 11. This positive
psychological preparation includes to be prepared for possible bad results-but retain a
never-giving up attitude under this circumstance, when you get good results, don't be
arrogant and just be optimistic no matter how adverse circumstances may be.
My top tips on how NOT to burn out in Year 11 and Year 12:
1)Establish goal(s) that are either based on individual subjects, week by week, term by
term, ATAR, university goals, both short term and long term that you want to achieve
during your senior years. Make sure those goals are goals you really want-not those that
your parents or friends want you to have-establish personal goals will enable you to have
meaningful reasons to keep studying and working hard for the entire year
2)If following a study timetable is not working for you, then try a to do list day by day
listing all the things you must do and other optional things you need to get done-school
work and other commitments-avoid procrastination, for example,by using surfing the
internet as a reward another a successful study session, keep the reward to 5-10 minutes
for every 45-60 minutes of high concentration study.
3)Enforce some self-discipline, perhaps group study might work for you-perhaps you need
the occasional encouragement from your friends-but don't get distracted, whenever you
want to give up, rehydrate your brain with some stretching and cold water, and visualise
yourself at the end of the HSC year, achieving all the goals you want, and having no
regrets. Smack your desired ATAR on the wall-and whenever you feel quickly tired, have a

5 minute break and look at that number-and think to yourself-if you want that ATAR, you
will just have to keep working hard and keep studying
When people burn out-it is usually because either they have irregular sleeping routines or
they lack self-discipline that comes from lack of real motivations. Make sure you sleep
and rest well so you are alert in your study, eat healthy food, exercise and find some
genuine, intrinsic source of motivation and that way, with persistence, consistent
optimistic attitude and determination, you will maximise your potential and improve your
academic results in the senior years.
My top tips on how to STUDY during the school term:
1)I would assign at least 90 minutes of rest after school-so it is like 30 minutes for
afternoon tea and 1 hour for dinner, I would make a to-do list of all the things I needed to
do that day-preparation for assessment, homework and study(extra questions), it is
usually on the subjects I do on school that day-and the list is always slightly longer than
realistically what I can achieve-because I want to push myself to maximise my time
2)I would take a 5-10 minute break for each hour of study, and during that time, I would
either re-hydrate myself or procrastinate on the net to relax and refresh myself-time
management and planning of each session-whether mentally or on paper is extremely
3)I would write down any questions I found hard or I didn't understand, and I kind of
regret the fact I didn't ask these questions the very next day, but basically I would
accumulate these questions, say over a period of several weeks, by which I would then
ask the teacher in one go or I would try to solve the questions myself
4)I would also try to do practice papers and past HSC exam questions on the topic I was
studying for-whether it was chemistry, physics or maths as soon as possible(I.e. when I
did my textbook questions as well as other extra ones)
5)I would often set aside the weekend for more intensive studying/practice/reading
ahead, but in general, you have to consider whether the homework will be beneficial to
your understanding-because sometimes teachers set random homework that wastes
time and doesn't add to your understanding, and under these very rare circumstances, I
choose not to do it because of the often significant amount of exams/assessments tasks I
had to study for-prioritising is everything
But I think the most important element of studying efficiently is to listen in
class to what the teacher have to say, because if you understand the content in
class, you don't have to waste the time to re-learn the concepts yourself at
My top tips in having ENJOYABLE AND PRODUCTIVE school holidays in Year 11
and Year 12:
You will be hearing this advice time and time again, and that is, it is not about the
quantity of the hours you study, but the quality of your study time-so how much you
have understand/learnt from each studying session. The number of hours you study in
the upcoming summer holidays will depend on three main factors:
1)whether you are going overseas/travel, and if so, for how long and any other possible
tutoring/extracurricular/casual work you may be engaging in over the holidays

2)The main goal of your study during the holidays-whether it is to catch up on content/to
revise on content learnt/to learn content ahead of class-although you may well be doing
more than one of these at once, just consider one which is your main purpose-and
consider how much time you are willing to devote/think will need to be devoted to
achieve that purpose-based on your own study efficiency and methods
3)Whether you intend to focus on all of your subjects in the holidays or are intending to
focus on only a few
You should strive to achieve the following objectives in your holidays:
1)RELAX:To truly relax after a tiring school term-you should go out with your friendsparticularly over the summer holidays where you have a longer period of rest, leave 2-3
days a week to relaxation and fun-do things you enjoy, it is very important to re-energise
and re-vitalise yourself so that you are highly motivated for next term, as well as
following a consistent study routine because a healthy body will mean a higher capacity
to cope with the stresses of senior years-(making sure you have good physical and
psychological health is a vital key to achieving your PERSONAL BEST)
2)EVALUATE:To evaluate over your previous term's performance and establish short
term and long term goals and strategies on how you could improve, establish more
efficient/effective study habits-experiment with new study methods and routine, organize
your room/study file/study schedule if you haven't done so-and enforcing regular selfdiscipline and independent learning in your study.
3)REVISE:To revise over all content learnt(because they will be examined in trials at the
end of the year-not just in end of term assessment tasks, so more regular revision is
better than revising the whole year's worth of content at the end of the year) and learn
new content-preferably at least one term ahead of the school, but make sure you do
questions/practice essays/creative to be able to utilise both past and new content
effectively-highlight any parts you don't understand to ask the teacher during next term
4)PREPARE:To finish exam preparations for assessments that are established early next
term, i.e. perhaps your half-yearlies for English, and to finish assignments due early next
term as well as any homework allocated by your teachers.
My top tips for maximising your English potential:
1)write practice essays(but make sure you get a very harsh marker-whether it is your
teacher, your tutor, or someone else)-there is no need to write excessively as quality
exceed quantity in English and sometimes you need time to think over your ideas-to
refine/extend them-so you don't waste so much time procrastinating when you write your
2) never write a second essay without getting comments for your first one, and I don't
advise you to prepare a generic essay because unless you know the essay question
before hand, generic essay will often leave you restricted in your options and even if it
will get you marks in your assessment task, it will definitely not get you far in your trials
and HSC...
3)never ever give up, use your holidays effectively to prepare-ask the teacher what text
you will be studying in the coming year-and use the holidays to read over these texts-to
reduce your stress during the year, for any modules requiring a related text, try to find it
in the holidays, and try not to use a very popular text-it is much harder to stand out if
you do used one.

4)learn to listen in class-whether it is other people's opinions or your teacher's insights, it

will help you formulate your own unique understanding-don't rely on study guides too
much-because everyone will be doing the same thing-but check with your teacher that
your understanding is not super obscure
5) probably the most important is to use all resources available, your teacher, your
tutor(if you have one), the internet, library, etc-and develop a personal passion and
understanding into the subject-but don't excessively seek other people's opinion on your
work-because you might develop a low self-esteem and start to doubt yourself-so always
reflect on each piece of advice whether it is valid or not and keep faith-believe in
yourself that you have the capacity to develop independent thinking-and just
because it is different from other people-does not necessarily mean it is wrongjust be prepared to back it up with textual evidence
6)read all your texts for a minimum of 3 times-no skimming over-you really need to
develop a comprehensive understanding of the whole text-not just deconstruct a few
scenes and forget about the rest of the book).
7)For writing an excellent creative, you should decide what areas you want to explore,
construct a 'perfect' story after various edit process, than try to adopt that story to as
many creative writing question as possible-i.e. write plans and get someone to mark it for
you, like your teacher, and when you come across questions that your story is difficult to
mould to, then write another one to cover the rest of the questions, but to write good
creative stories, you will need to practice and get feedback as well as read good
8)Regularly practice answering English essay/comprehension/creative questions under
EXAM CONDTIONS, without notes, and get a teacher/tutor/experienced English personnel
to mark it for you-and learn from the comments.
Basically, to do well in English, it is just practice, feedback, practice, feedbackunfortunately there is no short cuts at all... this, coupled with perseverance,
persistent optimism and consistent performance are the key ingredients to
succeeding in English.
1)put in consistent effort throughout your course-and for the HSC course, put in 10 times
the effort you have put for your preliminary-because it is going to be more demanding-to
achieve this goal, you must study ahead, stay motivated, self learn-reread your text at
least 3 times-understand them, do not give up writing practice essays and creative and
getting a harsh marker to give you comments on how to improve
2)make your own notes, read extensively-do not just read extra texts because they are
your related, read beyond the requirements-i.e. read and view a range of possible related
texts-this will help you grasp the module concept as well as give you ideas for your
creative-you should also make the effort to go to the state library or another resource
centre-and look up journal articles, study guides etc-to help you develop a unique
understanding of the module, but don't copy other people's works
3)ask teachers for resources, tips and any part of the module or requirement you don't
understand-use them, they are your friend but more importantly, because English is
quite subjective, they will be the ones marking your work-so build a strong relationship
with them
4)Don't prepare a generic essay and memorise ONLY quotes and technique-this will not

get you anywhere for English extension one-in exam, answer the question and nothing
but the question-deconstruct your syllabus/rubric that your school give you to make sure
you are answering its criteria.
5)Develop a sincere passion for the subject-perhaps you have already, but if you haven't,
try to, because passion combined with continuous hard work will be what will get you a
band 6-all the best of luck-any more questions, welcome to pm me
just on a side note, don't get too reliant on your teacher if they are busy, in English
extension one-you must take more responsibility for your own learning-you must develop
the initiative to do extra work/readings-and it is mostly self-learning-so you must develop
more self-discipline compared to other subjects
My top 3 tips for preparing for excelling in science subjects (e.g. Chemistry,
Biology, Physics etc)which includes the main types of assessments you will
encounter in your senior school science courses.
Make sure you know reliability, validity, accuracy, sources of error, possible areas for
improvement, independent/dependent/controlled variables, risk assessment for all the
experiments you have done in class, make sure you can master basic science skills such
as drawing line of best fit, drawing experimental set up accurately, using numbered
points in writing a logical procedure, understand the requirements of the exam(I.e. how
much time, how many parts) and allocate your time accordingly, make sure you
understand the chemical principle/theory behind why you did each experiment
Make sure you PERSONALLY write a set of summarised notes according to each dot point
of the syllabus in a concise but detailed manner-make sure you include appropriate
diagrams as well, after you wrote the notes, make sure to start practising questions and
CHECKING YOUR ANSWERS in textbooks-i.e. Roland Smith's Conquering Chemistry has an
exam question section which is quite good, ask your teacher for practice questions and
make links between dotpoints and across modules to reinforce your understanding.
Throughout the year, you should be progressively cutting down your notes as you store
more things into your long term memory-revise regularly. Before your final trial exam-you
should try to get your hands on as many preliminary exams as possible to practice-and
look at the marking guidelines, remember to practice under EXAM CONDITIONS. Make
sure when you make notes you are at least referring to 3 different sources to synthesise
your information. (colour-code and use mind-maps to make your notes engaging and
easy to remember). In your notes, don't neglect to include all your experiments and
second-hand investigations.
For other types of assessments such as group presentations, individual research
assignments, second-hand investigations-you should strive to always include a
comprehensive bibliography that indicates you have sourced your information not only
from websites, but from journals/books as well, you should understand how to evaluate
accuracy/reliability/validity in relation to the sources of information you are using, like
other types of assessment, pay close attention to the marking criteria and make sure you
fulfil it as much as possible, make sure your information is comprehensive, non-repetitive
and answers the verb of the question: i.e. discuss, evaluate, compare, contrast, assess,
examine (so for that matter, memorise what the main verbs used in your exam questions
Essentially, to succeed in the science subjects(Biology, Chemistry, Physics etc),
you need to understand, constantly apply your understanding through

practising questions and adopting feedback from your assessments to do

better in year 12-with repetition and consistent application you will achieve
your desired marks.
If I told you I never came near to burning out, then I would be lying because although my
tips serves to minimise the difficulties individuals will encounter during their senior
studies, no words will completely eliminate the anxiety and stress that comes with a
greater amount of workload and higher expectations. I've never truly burnt out, but I
have come quite close to it-and every time when I come close, I tell myself of the reason
why I want to excel in my senior studies-to have no regrets at the end of the year that I
haven't tried as hard as I possibly would and I just kept going (after doing some dancing
and drawing to relax myself a bit of course). To excel in senior studies, it is like flinging a
rubber band as far as possible-if you stretch the rubber band too much, you will break it
and you will get nowhere. If you don't stretch it enough, you won't get far.
You have to maintain a balance between your social, academic and extracurricular/work/family commitments (if you have any) to truly excel in your senior studies
and ensure you develop as an individual in a holistic manner. But I hope you will learn
from my advice and I have little doubt you will succeed in everything you do
I wish everyone good health and happiness-two important elements for ENJOYMENT and
ENRICHMENT of knowledge gained from the senior years


I think the best way to make a time table is to make it flexible, whether you have a to-do
list by day or organise your day into relaxation and 1 hour long study sessions, do what
works for you. There are a few things you should make sure to include in your
timetable/to do list to make it effective
1)Always be realistic-don't assign excessive amount of work that you cannot achieved in
the designated amount of time you have set aside for yourself
2)Make sure you are flexible-so you can make adjustments to your timetable when extracurricular and any other unforseen circumstances comes up.
3)Make sure you are studying at times optimal to your concentration and alertness level.
Don't assign studying at night if you can't concentrate during that time
4)Include social activities, work commitments, relaxation time into your timetable-a
balanced lifestyle is essential for long term academic success
5)Make sure you follow your timetable as closely as possible and try not to have too
many carry over tasks to add onto tomorrow's workload. With lots of trial and error, you
will find a way of organising time that you will feel comfortable with and which works for
1)You must understand and differentiate the terms accuracy, validity and reliability and
for each prac you have done so far-you should know these three terms in relation to the
experimental method and apparatus, as well as independent, dependent and controlled
variables, areas for improvement and possible sources of error in experiments, you must
understand ways in which accuracy/validity/reliability can be improved for each
experiment, as well as being able to do risk assessments

2)Think about what experiments in the syllabus will give you a result in the set time
frame of your task-if you did an experiment that involves observation over several days,
then it is logical that experiment is unlikely to be in your practical, ask a former student
what they did last year for bio-it will give you some ideas of the kind of prac they are
going to ask-although there may be variations, you can study those possible experiments
in more detail than others
3)If you are required to draw graphs or diagrams-make sure you use a pencil and bring a
rubber, it is much easier to rub out mistakes-make sure you have a watch-and adhere
strictly to the time frame, say for example, if you have two parts, don't spent too much
time on part 1-because you will not have enough time to finish part 2-if any question or
part is too hard, come back to it-just circle it and come back if you have time
4)Don't panic, make sure your handwriting is legible, you have adopted the most
appropriate form of recording your results-i.e. whether it be labelled diagrams or tables,
make sure to have headings and sub-headings where appropriate to make it easier to
read-allocate your time according to the marks of the question-read each question
carefully-don't miss out any parts-and answer nothing but what the question asks-highly
recommend you to read it several times and highlight key words to make sure you don't
miss out any marks
5) might be a good idea to make sure you know verbs like evaluate, explain, assess,
critically analyse, justify, contrast, compare, means-I don't think you will get a glossary of
words and definition in your exam-not impossible, but unlikely
Lastly, make sure you rest well, bring all the required equipment and follow my above
advice-and you will have maximised your potential of achieving the highest mark
The only way you can study for maths is essentially to understand mathematical
concepts, apply your understanding by practice questions of increasing difficulty, and
checking your answers and working out with those provided by the textbook or with your
teacher/tutor. Before each maths exam, I would also do a summary of all the formulas
that I would need and all the tips and tricks for each topic and revise over that before the
One very important tip is to avoid exposing yourself to new, difficult questions
the day before the exam-you would often be panicked and this would worsen
your exam performance because you are not entering the exam with a calm,
clear mind.
Well, I had a habit to try to do my maths homework before it was set-so that I had more
time for other subjects like English. I used an actual grid book-I found it particularly
useful when I am drawing trigonometry graphs, but it is up to you, it doesn't really matter
what type of book you use as long as you set out your questions neatly and in a legible
manner. I did divide my pages in half, not to save space, because it was the format I was
accustomed to. I would write out the question, write my working out, and ticked or
crossed my own work by marking my answers with those of the textbook. And if I got a
question wrong, I would re-do it several times until I get it right or I could ask my teacher.
When I understood the mathematical concepts, I would then do practice trial papers to
consolidate my knowledge.
One last important tip I can give you is that you need to ask questions the minute you
don't understand something-don't leave any maths lessons without understanding
everything about the maths concept conveyed-because maths is a sort of accumulative
subject where if you don't understand something and don't clarify it, it can have a

snowball effect. I have a habit of writing tips on the silly mistakes I've made or tips to do
a certain type of question alongside questions I got wrong and I re-do these questions
before the exam and remind myself to avoid making these mistakes.
MATHS is a subject that needs to be practiced on a daily basis, you cannot get
away with studying it the day before the actual exam. You need to understand
the approach to achieve a solution to the problems, not just knowing how to
answer a problem, but knowing the different types of problems you can
encounter in any topic and the variation in the solution method to achieve
them. Essentially, practice, practice, practice is the key to succeed in Maths.
I hope your laziness is only in not bothering to draw margins, and not in not doing lots of
maths problems

) Anyways, glad that the information helped, if you have any more

questions, feel free to reply to this thread

year studies

All my best wishes for you to ace your senior

(You've got a pretty heavy workload by the sounds of your subjects