Succeeding in the HSC is all about effective preparation, time management and of course, plenty of hard work.

So with a two-month holiday on the horizon, what’s the best way to use your time? Getting ahead in coursework or making the most of your break before what is sure to be a big year?

If you neglect your studies entirely over the summer break, you risk falling behind and forgetting much of what you have learnt in the first term. In giving up your work for the holidays, you’re effectively giving yourself a much heavier load for when you return to school.

This definitely does not mean you need to spend the whole summer studying. Simply put aside a few hours here and there, and when you’re lying by the pool perhaps read one of your English texts rather than listening to your iPod.

Rowan Kunz, the founder of Art of Smart Education and Study TV and author of ‘Secrets of HSC Success’, gives us some useful summer study tips:

Give yourself a break
Students need to find a healthy balance between enjoying their holidays and preparing for the year ahead. Rowan suggests students give themselves two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s Eve to spend time with family and friends and enjoy their holiday, and wait until January to start their study.

“It’s important to actually take a break, to use the holidays to refuel and reenergise. I see so many students who work really hard in the holidays, get ahead, and then hit a wall before their exams,” he says.

Embrace self-learning
Throughout January use your study time to teach yourself the coursework for the term ahead, as research has shown that self-learning if the most effect method of memory retention.

“You’ll end up with a great set of notes that you can improve and adapt, and when you get back to school the material is already familiar and you can develop higher levels of knowledge than your peers,”
he says.

Rowan suggests students aim to complete 40 hours of study over the break, so two hours a day from Monday to Friday throughout January. Doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Prepare for major works
If you’re doing a major work, the summer holidays are an excellent opportunity to explore your options, start gathering ideas, planning your deadlines and getting your logbook together.

Emma Goddard studied Visual Arts in the HSC and is now studying visual communications at the University of Technology, Sydney. Over her summer break Emma visited a number of art exhibitions and also had a look at what some past students had created at ArtExpress.

“The more you see the more you can open your mind and realise just how many options you have. It really gives you the opportunity to create something truly unique and, in the end, something you can be proud of,” she says.

Read your English texts
Something that all students will understand is the frustrating and confusing process of studying HSC English. While it may seem like the last subject you want to look at, given you didn’t choose to study it, doing well in English is important.

One of the great things about English is that watching movies can count as studying. Over the holidays, get some friends together and make a night of it – popcorn, choc-tops and your prescribed texts. Reading your texts and watching the films over the holidays will save you time when you’re busy studying for your exams and will also allow you to contribute to class discussion on the texts more easily.

Critique and improve your work
Rowan Kunz also recommends spending some time over the holidays looking at your essays and your creative writing piece. Have a look at the feedback you have received on your work and also have someone else read over them for you. Use that advice and improve your work because you will be re-using them for both your trials and your final HSC exams.

Stay on top of things
The HSC can be an incredibly stressful year, but it doesn’t have to be. Consistently staying on top of your work throughout the year will save you from last minute cramming and stress right before your exams. Use your summer break to refuel and recharge as well as to get ahead on the coursework and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success for the year ahead.

By Jessie Goldie