Your HSC study period, or ‘STUVAC’, can be a weird and wonderful time. It’s the awkward divide between when the last term of Year 12 finishes, and when the NSW HSC Exams take place.
For many, it’s an odd combination of relief and stress, and freedom and restriction. Suddenly, you no longer have the structure of the school day and very few commitments; at the same time, there seems to be a huge expectation to put in a great deal of work for your HSC exams.
If STUVAC hasn’t started for you already, it will soon. So, it’s important to make sure that you spend the time in the best way possible to prepare you for your upcoming HSC exams. This doesn’t necessarily mean planning out your study well; in fact, there’s a lot more to preparing for your HSC than being on top of your work. Your physical and mental well-being are just as important in your preparation.
So, what’s the best way to manage your preparation in this period? Here are a few of our tips:
1. Wake up at the same time each morning and set a routine
It’s very tempting to exercise your newfound freedom by waking up in the afternoon every day. After all, you might think that with all this extra time on your hands, you can afford to relax your school routine a bit.
While this is true to some extent, the reality is, adhering to a regular structure in your day makes you far more productive. This is a tip that we hear time and time from our top students, and it goes beyond just waking up at the same time each day: allocate study time, eating time, and recreation to build a routine that works for your – and then stick to it! You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done.
There is also a secondary purpose to maintaining the same daily routine each day. On exam day, you’ll have to wake up at a specific time and be mentally ready to go, right off the mark. This will be a challenge if you aren’t already used to functioning at your maximum at the right point in the day. By building a daily routine around the times you wake up and work, you’ll also teach your body and brain to be operating at full potential during the specific time windows when you’ll be sitting your exams.
2. Eat well
It’s natural to want to let loose a little once you go into what feels like holidays before the HSC. However, it’s very important to realise that mental function and concentration is very closely related to what you eat.
In particular, sudden spikes in your blood sugar from eating simple carbohydrates (like sugar) in low GI foods can make concentrating for extended periods (i.e. studying!) very challenging. Make sure to start the day with some more complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, wholemeal bread, and protein, like eggs or omelettes.
Once again, as with your sleep routine, it’s important to be somewhat consistent with what you’ll experience on exam day. Sudden dietary and lifestyle changes in the weeks leading up to exams can mean that you won’t feel like you’re at your best on exam day. Make sure to find what works with you and stick with it right up until you walk into the exam room.
3. Stay active, physically and socially
All this talk of routine and diet isn’t meant to make STUVAC sound like some kind of forced labour. It’s all about keeping yourself in the best shape possible to get good, effective study done – and that starts with being physically healthy. Make sure to get 4 to 5 hours of exercise throughout the week.
Also, spending quality time with friends and family outside of study-related activities is very important, and a great way to unwind. Make sure to keep your stress levels low by maintaining a balanced social life – just make sure to leave enough time for everything else!
In summary, while it’s very important to get an appropriate volume of revision under your belt during STUVAC, you’re also preparing for the HSC in many other ways. Ensuring you can be at your best on exam day means you have to take care of yourself in this critical period.