HSC prep: it takes a team

The HSC moves a little closer with the release of the 2024 exam timetable today. Luke Horton passes on sage advice from a former student.

Former West Wallsend High School captain Ryan Wood offers advice to students completing their HSC in 2024.

Former West Wallsend High student and school captain Ryan Wood has offered some choice words of advice to students completing their HSC studies in 2024.

With the release of the 2024 HSC exam timetable, Ryan said students needed to stay healthy and focused – and make time for themselves and others.

“It’s a collective experience. Remember, your friends and peers are going through this, too. It’s important to collaborate and support them but lean on them, too,” he said.

“One of the things my friends and I did is study together. We’d look at our syllabus for a particular subject and choose a sub-topic, then list off examples off all those topics.

“Free time is really important, both before and during the exam period. You’ve got to have an outlet, like sport, hanging out with friends, or a hobby. You don’t want to get too caught up and burn out before the finish.”

After completing his HSC in 2023, Ryan is now studying a double degree in business and international studies at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Ryan said the degree was not his first choice, but something he settled on midway through his final year of school.

“Initially I thought I’d really like to do something in a medical field,” he said.

“I was fortunate enough that I was able to do a pre-university course through the University of Newcastle while I was still at school.

“I actually found I didn’t really enjoy the medical path, but I really liked business studies, and that’s why I decided to pursue the degree I’m doing.”

Ryan said students completing their HSC studies should make sure they enjoy what they are doing and have good knowledge of the subjects they have chosen.

“The final exams are daunting,” he said.

“But instead of worrying, I made sure I was well prepared for what was coming.

“I created flash cards that I updated and referred to continuously throughout the year.

“My teachers were really amazing. We had classroom study sessions, booster sessions, and teachers took time out of their own busy lives to work with us before and after school.

“I’m enormously grateful for their support and I know my peers are too.”

Ryan said different students studied in different ways, and it was important to find a method that suited.

“Before the exam period started, I gathered together all my notes, the syllabus, and stuck it up all around my room. I’d make notes and stick them on my wardrobe,” he said.

“I also made sure I knew when my exams were and I’d tackle my studies subject by subject, in order of the exams.

“Study techniques are generally up to the individual. I know some of my friends who would sit at a desk for three or four hours at a time reading and making notes, but I had to be moving and actively involve my brain.”

Ryan said it was important to remember to take a break during the exams.

“When I’d finished an exam or studying, I’d go to the beach or for a run to clear my brain. It helped me not to worry as much and gave me a real sense of clarity,” he said.

A post-exam debrief could also be helpful.

“With my peers we’d go and speak to our teachers, sit in their office and talk through the exam we’d just done,” he said.

“Even after the exam you can be stressing, thinking about where you missed a question, or how you might have answered something differently.

“That debrief with your teachers and peers can be really beneficial.”

Ryan said students doing their HSC needed to be proud of what they had achieved.

“Hindsight can be a bit of a gift and a curse,” he said.

“I knew I’d done all I could and given it my best effort. It was important that I came to terms with that.

“Ultimately, the results reflect the effort that you put in.”

The NSW Department of Education’s Stay Healthy HSC website is a great place for tips, resources and information for students and their families.

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