HSC Survival Guide

At Western we recognise how difficult this time can be, so we have put together a HSC Survival Kit to help you along the way. We encourage you to continue working hard to reach your goals and unlimited potential. We hope to see you at Western next year!

Top 10 Study Tips

1. PICK A PLACE AND TIME
Find a study space that is comfortable for you and use it at whatever time of day you know is your most productive.

2. STUDY EVERY DAY
Study subject over a number of days and weeks. This helps strengthen your understanding and retention. Last minute cramming does not lead to success, it can cause confusions and stress!

3. PLAN YOUR TIME
It helps to have some plans in motion so you can make the most of your study time.

  • Set alarms
  • Use a wall planner
  • Make to-do lists
  • Set time limits

4. DISCOVER YOUR LEARNING STYLE
Most people have a preferred way of learning. Find yours and study more productively.

  • Auditory - learn by listening. Read notes aloud, discuss with others or record and replay.
  • Visual - learn by seeing. Use colour to highlight, represent ideas with diagrams or mind maps.
  • Tactile/kinaesthetic - learn by doing. Recreate material through role-play or build a model.

5. REVIEW AND REVISE
Regularly review the things you've studied in class; it improves understanding and memory of key concepts.

  • Quiz – Have someone quiz you on key concepts
  • Create study aids – Dot point key concepts from memory or create flash cards.

6. TAKE BREAKS
Schedule regular breaks of specific duration; they help your performance. Just remember to stick to the time limit you've set for each break.

7. ASK FOR HELP
Every question is a smart one. If you don't understand something, ask for help early. Your teachers want to support you.

8. STAY MOTIVATED
Remember your 'why'. Maybe it's a course or career you're aiming for or making your family proud. Keep something in your study space to remind you e.g. inspirational quotes of photos.

9. APP IT UP
There are heaps of apps to help with study. Ask teachers and friends which ones they recommend. Apps that respond to your learning style, help you keep on track through timers, or stop you checking socials may be a great place to start!

10. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Your mind and body are vital tools when it comes to exam time so take care of them.

  • Eat well
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Exercise
  • Maintain balance between study and relaxation

 

Exam Tips

1. FIND OUT ABOUT THE EXAM
Questions to ask about the exam:

  • What percentage of the subject mark does it  comprise?
  • Format - multiple choice, essay, short answer, choice of questions?
  • Weighting of each question?
  • Location and time?

2. ASK FOR HELP
Be smart - ask for help! Use your supports - teachers, Fast Forward Project officers, family and friends. Counsellors can provide confidential support.

3. SORT OUT YOUR SUBJECT MATERIAL
Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

  • Organise handouts, subject summaries and notes
  • Read course outlines and subject guides
  • Avoid going over new information right before an exam


4. REVIEW PAST EXAM PAPERS
Practise answering past exam papers for each subject under exam conditions. It helps ensure you can answer within the specified time limits.

View past exam papers here.

EXAM DAY…


5. KEEP YOUR COOL
Tips to keep you calm:

  • Avoid talking too much to others students - their stress can be contagious!
  • Arrive with a little time to spare
  • Eat a healthy meal beforehand

6. USE YOUR READING TIME
Use your reading time wisely:

  • Read all instructions carefully
  • Read all questions carefully, noting the weighting (plan to spend more time on heavily weighted ones)
  • Find the question you are most confident about. Plan to answer it first.
  • Be ready to jot down key thoughts and underline key words like 'discuss', 'compare', 'describe'

7. BREAK THE QUESTIONS DOWN
Underline key words and verbs in the question. These provide clues on what is required in your answer.

Example: 'Explain the difference between study and revision'

Explain – Show how or why

Difference – What are the distinguishing factors between study and revision?

8. REVIEW YOUR ANSWERS (IF YOU CAN)
Try to finish the exam with a few minutes to spare so you can check your answers.

  • Review the ones you are least confident about first.
  • Check all questions are answered.
  • Don't leave multiple choice answers blank - you might select the right answer even in a random pick!

If you find these tips helpful, great but you may have other things that work well too. Do whatever works for you.  If you do the very best you can, then be proud of your efforts!

Remember! You're more than your ATAR

educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/
nesa/11-12/resources/hsc-exam-papers


Practice papers from previous years can
help to familiarise you with the structure of
the HSC exams so you know what to expect.

Higher School Certificate exam papers,
with marking guidelines and HSC marking
feedback, are available for each course
through the above URL.

The media and those around us can spread a lot of hype and pressure about Year 12, but putting things into perspective can really help to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

The final year of secondary school is important, but it will not be the most important year of your life. Keep things in perspective because you’re far more than your ATAR score.

Your performance in Year 12 is only a measure of your ability in a test or exam at one point in time. It does not control your future success or happiness.

If you feel the time isn’t right for you to complete Year 12, or you have a burning passion to do something other than school studies, then talk to your careers counsellor and find out what your options are (TAFE, a job, volunteering, part-time study, or an apprenticeship). Remember there are many ways to reach your goals

It’s also important to study smart, by removing distractions like social media. Research shows that students who use social media while studying (even if only in the background) get 20 per cent lower marks than students who don’t!

If you are struggling to stay away, there is some software that can help by temporarily blocking you from social media sites, addictive websites and games. Try Cold Turkey for PCs or SelfControl for Macs. 

We know sometimes life does get in the way of study. Things such as depression, problems at school or home, body image issues, binge drinking and drugs are all things that can stop you from staying focused. These issues can happen in any year of school and can be too big to handle alone. Talk to your student welfare coordinator, a trusted adult, online or phone support service for some advice and solutions.

If you want to support your friend but you’re concerned about saying the wrong thing or making the situation worse, the beyondblue Check-in app takes you through four easy, quick steps to plan what you might say and how you might support your friend.

The Check-in app is free to download from Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Glossary of Key Words

This glossary contains key words that appear frequently in NSW Education Standards
Authority syllabuses, performance descriptions and examinations.

Account
Account for: state reasons for, report on. Give
an account of: narrate a series of events or
transactions

Analyse
Identify components and the relationship
between them; draw out and relate implications
Apply
Use, utilise, employ in a particular situation

Appreciate
Make a judgement about the value of

Assess
Make a judgement of value, quality, outcomes,
results or size

Calculate
Ascertain/determine from given facts, figures or
information

Clarify
Make clear or plain

Classify
Arrange or include in classes/categories

Compare
Show how things are similar or different

Construct
Make; build; put together items or arguments

Contrast
Show how things are different or opposite




Critically (analyse/evaluate)

Add a degree or level of accuracy depth,
knowledge and understanding, logic, questioning,
reflection and quality to (analyse/evaluate)

Deduce
Draw conclusions

Define
State meaning and identify essential qualities

Demonstrate
Show by example

Describe
Provide characteristics and features

Discuss
Identify issues and provide points for and/or
against

Distinguish
Recognise or note/indicate as being distinct or
different from; to note differences between

Evaluate
Make a judgement based on criteria; determine
the value of

Examine
Inquire into

Explain
Relate cause and effect; make the relationships
between things evident; provide why and/or how

Extract
Choose relevant and/or appropriate details

 


Extrapolate

Infer from what is known

Identify
Recognise and name

Interpret
Draw meaning from

Investigate
Plan, inquire into and draw conclusions about

Justify
Support an argument or conclusion

Outline
Sketch in general terms; indicate the main
features of

Predict
Suggest what may happen based on available
information

Propose
Put forward (for example a point of view, idea,
argument, suggestion) for consideration or action

Recall
Present remembered ideas, facts or experiences

Recommend
Provide reasons in favour

Recount
Retell a series of events

Summarise
Express, concisely, the relevant details

Synthesise
Putting together various elements to make a
whole

Western Sydney University's HSC True Reward Early Offer Program

What’s your passion? Do you excel at English literature? Are you a mental mathematician? An advocate for social justice? A designer
extraordinaire? Do you breathe foreign languages?

It’s important to acknowledge and play to your strengths because, ultimately, your strengths will determine your future. This is the premise behind HSC True Reward – a program that recognises the strengths of each individual. Our unique program makes an early offer into a University degree based on corresponding HSC subject band outcomes, not the ATAR. Why? Because at Western, we recognise that too often, the ATAR system overlooks natural strengths and talent.

Subject Adjustment Factors

You may be eligible for Subject Adjustment factors when applying through UAC.
Up to ten Subject Adjustment points in total may be available, when applying to
Western Sydney University, if you meet one or more of the below criteria.

YOU LIVE IN WESTERN SYDNEY
If you live in Western Sydney, we’ll automatically add five Regional Subject Adjustment factors to your application (excluding the Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Physiotherapy).

YOU DID WELL IN YOUR HSC OR IB SUBJECTS
If you achieve great results in HSC or International Baccalaureate (IB)
subjects that are relevant to the course you want to study at Western, we’ll
automatically add up to 10 Subject Adjustment factors to your application. For most courses you need a band 5 or 6 result, but for a small number of courses,
band 4 is enough. Some Western courses are not available for Subject Adjustment factors.

YOU ARE AN ELITE ATHLETE OR PERFORMER
We recognise that performing at an elit level, as an athlete, musician or other
performer, can take time away from your Year 12 studies. To ensure you are
not disadvantaged by your performance and training commitments, you can apply and if successful receive five Subject Adjustment factors on your application to Western.

The Academy

The Academy, unique to Western Sydney University gives academic high-achievers an added edge – in their study and with employers. It’s free to join and offers you the challenges and intellectual rigour you crave. It focuses on community engagement and personal and professional development and prepares you to be a leader of tomorrow.

Global Leaders Program

The Academy Global Leaders Program is a pathway for students with exceptional potential to receive an early offer and a premium experience within the Academy.
Successful applicants can gain access to our world-class leadership program with an unconditional guarantee of a place at Western Sydney University before the HSC commences.

The Global Leaders Program includes a $2,000 scholarship, a University-sponsored
overseas academic or leadership experience and much more

The College

The College knows that there’s much more to you than an ATAR. If you’re determined to succeed, and ready for some hard work, they can help you find a pathway to the degree you want. The university pathway programs at The College are all about setting you up for success. You’ll learn in a nurturing, supportive environment, while being challenged to reach your full potential.

The College offers students a pathway to university study through its comprehensive range of University Foundation Studies, Diploma programs and English Language courses for domestic and international students. The College draws upon 18 years of experience and is committed to three underlying principles of growth and diversity – multiple locations, multiple products, and multiple modes of delivery.

The College is one of the few pathway providers offering HECS-HELP

Apply Directly to Western

You can now apply directly to Western Sydney University for free. You can make up to six choices in degrees and if you apply through both UAC and the Western Sydney University portal, this increases the number of degrees you can apply for to 11.

To complete the application you’ll need:

Your personal details (name, address, email address, telephone number). Make sure the name you enter on your application matches the name on your official ID (birth certificate, citizenship documents, passport). You’ll need your ID when you enrol and there may be problems if the name on your ID doesn’t match your offer letter. Also ensure your email address is correct and don’t use a shared email address. After you apply you’ll need to check your email regularly for updates on your application.

Details of your studies and qualifications, such as Australian or overseas tertiary
qualification/s (including institution name, name of qualification, year completed andany student numbers); current and previous preparatory courses; and both complete and incomplete certificate, diploma and degree studies (including your student number,the name of the qualification and the years you attended). You’ll need to declare all your studies, even if you’ve applied to study at Western before.

Details of your English language proficiency for undergraduate study.

Details of full-time paid employment experience of one year or more.

Scholarships

Western Sydney University alone has over 200 scholarships on offer and students are sometimes eligible to receive more than one. Western Sydney University offers $22 million in scholarships every year.

Through merit-based scholarships and The Academy, Western Sydney University recognises and rewards students who demonstrate outstanding academic ability, and superior leadership and community skills. Donor-funded scholarships are also available, providing support for students based on both academic achievements and equity considerations, many of which include internship and mentorship experiences for recipients. There are also scholarships available for specific courses. Some of the scholarships available include:

  • Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership Scholarship – up to $50,000
  • Dean’s Scholarship – up to $20,000
  • Academic Excellence Scholarship – up to $20,000
  • Honours Scholarship – $5,000 for one year
  • Sports Scholarship – $5,000 for one year
  •  International Exchange Scholarships (for semester exchange) – $1,750 one-off payment
  • Student Mobility Travel Grants (for short programs) - $500 one-off payment

Who Can Apply?

So, if a scholarship is on offer to postgraduate students – that is students who have already
completed one university degree – it would not be open to students just out of high school.
Pay careful attention to who is offering the scholarship and to whom it is being advertised.
Equity criteria – Western Sydney University also consider and offer scholarships to people:

  • of Australian Indigenous descent
  • from rural and isolated areas
  • experiencing financial hardship
  • with a disability or long-term medical condition
  • from a non-English speaking background
  • experiencing long-term difficult family circumstances.

Competitive Applications

Once you have processed all of the requirements and feel ready to apply for a specific scholarship, there are various elements to consider.

  • Carefully read through and include all required information.
  • Most often, you will be required to include documents in support of your application. These may include awards, reports, references as well as simple proof of ID documents.
  • Do not leave out certain elements because you consider them less important. ID documents are important, as without this proof, the organisation offering the scholarship might not be permitted to issue you with an offer.

ID documents are important, as without this proof, the organisation offering the
scholarship might not be permitted to issue you with an offer.  

Supporting documents that can be effective include:

  • Merit certificates, especially ones that are specifically relevant to your current or future area of study.
  • Certificates of participation or appreciation for community service, particularly if they in some way relate to the organisation offering the scholarship and they demonstrate your character and specific areas of interest.
  • Reference letters are also often required upon application.
    - Include a reference from your school.
    - Approach a teacher who is involved in the area of study you may be interested in to provide a more specific reference.
  • Centrelink statements (financial)
  • Letter from doctor (medical)
  • Letters from counsellor, doctor etc. (family circumstances)
  • Letters from doctor, counsellor, Disability Worker at school or from the community etc. (disability)
  • Passport showing arrival date in Australia (Non-English speaking background).

Writing Effective Personal Statements

Once you have processed all of the requirements and feel ready to apply for a specific scholarship, there are various elements to consider.

  • Carefully read through and include all required information.
  • Most often, you will be required to include documents in support of your application. These may include awards, reports, references as well as simple proof of ID documents.
  • Do not leave out certain elements because you consider them less important. ID documents are important, as without this proof, the organisation offering the scholarship might not be permitted to issue you with an offer.

ID documents are important, as without this proof, the organisation offering the
scholarship might not be permitted to issue you with an offer.  

Supporting documents that can be effective include:

  • Merit certificates, especially ones that are specifically relevant to your current or future area of study.
  • Certificates of participation or appreciation for community service, particularly if they in some way relate to the organisation offering the scholarship and they demonstrate your character and specific areas of interest.
  • Reference letters are also often required upon application.
    - Include a reference from your school.
    - Approach a teacher who is involved in the area of study you may be interested in to provide a more specific reference.
  • Centrelink statements (financial)
  • Letter from doctor (medical)
  • Letters from counsellor, doctor etc. (family circumstances)
  • Letters from doctor, counsellor, Disability Worker at school or from the community etc. (disability)
  • Passport showing arrival date in Australia (Non-English speaking background).

This provides you with an excellent opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants. A personal statement should:

  • Specifically address how the scholarship funds would realistically be used and how the funds would benefit you and your studies.
  • Your achievements may also be listed and expanded upon. Document the most relevant ones first and carefully think through whether each one is relevant/ useful.
  • Aside from illustrating who you are as a person and your list of achievements, an equity statement may also be required/included to demonstrate to interviewers how awarding the scholarship to you would benefit your particular circumstance.

An equity statement should:

  • Provide a clear picture of a student’s situation
  • Include information regarding each equity consideration the student is claiming
  • Be supported by documentation
  • Only include as much detail as the student is comfortable sharing.

Demonstrating some knowledge of the donor of the scholarship can also be helpful. Remember, a scholarship is a generous contribution on behalf of either an organisation, institution, or an individual, so acknowledgement and appreciation of the opportunity they are making available is thoughtful.

Review and carefully proofread all application materials prior to submitting. In addition to spelling, grammar and syntax, thorough and precise checking of all included content prior to submission is important. Remember to review all aspects of your application, including:

  • The attachment of all desired supporting documentation
  • Correct formatting - make sure all documents open easily and are in the required format.
  • It can be beneficial to ask a third party, perhaps a teacher or parent to review your application. Often others can detect errors in our work more easily than we can.