Isabella Ross

HSC exams are scheduled to be held across NSW in over 750 exam centres staffed by over 7,500 supervisors and presiding officers this month. In the lead up to the first day of exams, students are encouraged to try their best, study and look for some support in the HSC Study Guide 2019. NSW Education Standards Authority Acting CEO Paul Martin said the guide is an invaluable resource for year 12 students.

“It’s full of helpful information for parents and carers wanting to know more about the HSC and supporting students to do their best. My advice to students: education is a lifelong journey and the HSC is an important point in that journey, but it’s important to balance study with healthy habits including rest, fun and exercise,” said Mr Martin.

For north shore students in need of a quiet, motivational space to study, Gordon Library has you covered. The library will be keeping its doors open for 2 nights this month, October 3 and 10, to allow HSC students private access to the library between 8pm and 10pm. A stress-free zone, students will have access to all library resources, free Wi-Fi, friendly staff available for assistance and light refreshments. To secure your spot, send an email to

HSC is intrinsically stressful. But with a supportive network of loved ones around you, an optimistic mindset and effort to try your best, students can flourish. Remember – you are more than just a number. We wish lots of luck, positivity and well wishes to all high school students commencing their HSC exams this month.

Reducing HSC stress tips from Headspace:

For more information or to seek help, visit:

Take the time to plan:

  • Prepare a study plan and goals for each day/week. Make sure it’s balanced with other important things in your life – that way it will be easier to stick to.
  • Talk to your employers early to let them know you need to limit your shifts/hours while studying.
  • Create a study space that is comfortable, quiet, well lit, organised, and has no distractions nearby, such as a TV, phone, people talking, etc.
  • Make sure you have everything you need for each study session, as this helps to feel more confident and organised.

Look after yourself:

  • Self-care is especially important when you have a big demand in your life – that way you have the energy to commit to what you need to accomplish.
  • Build activities you enjoy and that bring your stress levels down into your study plan, such as sport, spending time with friends, a movie, etc.
  • Don’t get hungry before or while studying. Grab nutritional snacks that keep you going, such as fruit/nuts/dairy, etc.
  • Remember to exercise every day as this helps you to keep focused and energetic.

Rest when you need to:

  • Work out what times of day you have the most energy and plan to study then.
  • Don’t study more than 40-60 mins without a short break. Even a 5-minute break will help. A glass of water helps too!
  • When you have a break do something physical or fun, such as go for a short run or play with a pet.
  • Try to keep your focus on school and exams rather than other stuff happening in your life; you don’t need this extra worry around relationships, friendship, etc. right now.
  • Relaxation is important, especially before bed, to slow the brain activity down. Try some slow, deep breathing, a shower or a bath, herbal tea etc.

Stay focused:

  • Say “no” to parties during the weeks close to the exams. This will help to keep you refreshed and energised.
  • When studying, switch your phone and email off to stop the distractions.
  • Try to keep a focus on your health and wellbeing by not using things like drugs or alcohol; they can make it much harder to study.

Ask for help:

  • Stay at school until your last day so you don’t miss any important info about exams, or fun events with your colleagues.
  • Practice writing essays and show your teachers for feedback and improvement.
  • Ask teachers the best way to study for each subject; they have many years of experience they can share with you.
  • Some teachers are happy to be contacted during the time leading up to the exams. Find out which ones you can contact and make use of this if you need to.
  • If you have trouble approaching your own teacher for advice, talk to one of the other ones who teach the same subject.
  • Group study sessions with classmates can be a helpful and entertaining way of studying but keep your focus on what you want to achieve with these sessions.
  • Talk about what you are studying with family members and friends, as this helps to retain the info more, especially names and dates, etc.

Be prepared:

  • Read/ write everything three times as this also helps to commit the info to memory.
  • Use your trial exam results to focus on what you need to study.
  • Use previous exam papers to get a feel for what to expect.
  • Ask friends what they are doing that is helping with their study or friends who did it last year.
  • You need to study within 24 hours of the exam on that subject to retain more info.

Write things in coloured marker that you have trouble remembering (such as names and dates) and blu-tack to your toilet wall/door. Sounds funny, but it really works!