HSC Study Tips: Ace Year 12 With The Help Of Afrina And F.R.I.E.N.D.S
Balancing your health, study and social life can be a challenge in Year 11 and 12. Luckily for you, in this very special "episode" of the Matrix blog, scholarship student Afrina and F.R.I.E.N.D.S are here to offer their top HSC study tips for doing just that!
I remember telling my friend every year: “imagine what it would be like to be in year 12”. Throughout high school, Year 12 always felt like it was eons away, and my friend and I spent entire afternoons laughing about a future that we never expected to see. Yet here I am, now with only six months left of Year 12. So, what HSC study tips and self-care tips are getting me through it? Let’s take a look!
My Year 12 Story
I can’t lie, Year 12 had a rocky start. Studying Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway was a traumatic experience, and not just because it was about the ramifications of war. While I enjoyed the novel, writing an essay about it required many mind-maps, late nights and the destruction of more than a few mirrors. And then there was the social side. I’m a prefect, so I had to attend a number of formal Afternoon Teas, which, suffice to say, require a lot of social energy to get through.
That said, one of the coolest things about being in Year 12 is that whenever you meet another Year 12 from any other school, you can relate to each other. You share a collective experience: the traumas and joys, both academic and social, of being in Year 12. It’s a great way to start a conversation, and I use this little bonding hack to the best of my ability. I can proudly say I can carry a conversation about Year 12 for a minimum of two hours now. Makes me seem “breezy”, as Rachel Green would say.
The Good & The Bad
Year 12 also comes with a strange mixture of emotions. My school has beautiful Jacaranda trees, and I’ve come to love and despise them at the same time. For whatever reason, it just so happens that these particular Jacarandas are always in full bloom exactly when exam season comes around. The purple flowers are a stunning yet haunting forewarning for all secondary school students: the worst is yet to come.
Then comes the pang of purple panic: the numerous study calls, waking up at 5am to revise, not to mention the horrifyingly cluttered study tables. Looking at these jungles of paper, I can hear Chandler saying “I’m a neat guy, not a clean guy”. But once the exam block is over, peace inevitably comes. The eye of the storm. It is liberating, but short lived, because the storm always returns. This time, the storm returns in the form of exam results, some worthy of the incinerator, others validating my countless sleepless nights.
My Year 12 was also punctuated with another storm: the loss of my grandmother at the beginning of 2023. Losing one of the closest people to me was indescribably hard, not to mention a demotivating factor in my studies. Fortunately, with a lot of tears, therapy, the help of an excellent support network and a great effort to stay disciplined, I did (and am doing) pretty well. Even now, I can hear Ross’ voice saying “You can’t just give up. Is that what a dinosaur would do?”
Year 12: The Right Way
Year 12 requires a healthy work ethic and mindset. It’s a tough year, so you have to mentally prepare yourself for the stress that you will face in the coming months. In Season 2, Episode 18 of Friends, Joey, an aspiring actor, gets a major role in a huge soap opera (stick with me, the relevance will become clear). Just as he was reaching stardom and beginning to progress his career, he took the wrong step, and promptly lost his role. His life was turned upside down. He lost his apartment, his motivation and found himself in a lot of debt.
Like Joey, I started my Year 12 journey with optimism, thinking it would be the beginning of a successful HSC career. But, one week into the new year, I lost the most important person to me. My life was turned upside down. I lost my motivation to study, felt mentally drained and spent a lot of time and money on ice cream.
Luckily, both Joey and myself had a supportive network and goal-orientated mindsets, the kind that are necessary for handling both stress and loss.
So, how can you ensure you have the right mindset? How can you prepare for the highs and lows of Year 12, be they academic, social or personal? Well, join me and my F.R.I.E.N.D.S as we go over our top HSC study hacks for acing Year 12. Without further ado, let’s get hit play on this special edition episode: “The One Where Afrina Helps You Get Back On Track”.
HSC Study Tips: Self-Care
When I told him about my situation, my Matrix math teacher Daniel Tran gave me this advice: “Make sure to take care of yourself and ensure that you are okay to handle the rest of the year”. Self-care is extremely important when navigating through grief or stress, and it’s especially important to understand when to give yourself a break to rest and process. When things got hard, I gave myself plenty of space to decompress and look after myself. So, what everyday self-care activities can you partake in to give your mind a break?
While the physiological benefits of exercise cannot be overstated, I’ve found running for 30 minutes every day to be a great way of escaping overwhelming thoughts and upping my motivation and energy levels… at least, when it’s over. As Monica Geller put it: “The first mile is the hardest. Then it gets easier. Then, halfway through, you hit the wall and you want to die. And then you finish, and it feels like heaven.” At the end of the day, definitely worth it!
For a healthy person, a minimum of eight hours of sleep is recommended for optimum health and cognitive function (which you need to study effectively!). So, for a Year 12 student experiencing unparalleled amounts of stress, these eight hours are practically mandatory. For me, this involved limiting my caffeine intake. Otherwise, Monica would no doubt be asking me “What’s the matter? Can’t sleep? Too much caffeine?”.
4. Ask For Help
While Monica’s taunts do contain a helpful truth, it’s also important to consult with a professional about your struggles. Personally, my therapist was invaluable in helping me develop the self-care routine I have today, and I encourage you to see a school counselor or psychologist if you ever feel like the stress of Year 12 is overwhelming you.
It’s also important you have an active and reliable support network you feel comfortable reaching out to. When Joey heard the bad news, his friends Rachel, Ross, Monica, Phoebe and Chandler immediately rushed to his apartment to support him. Whether it’s your friends, parents, teachers or a therapist, never be afraid to reach out to your network and let them know what’s troubling you. After all, that’s what they’re there for.
One of the most important lessons that both grief and Mrs Dalloway taught me is the importance of living in and cherishing the present. After my grandmother passed away, I became more aware of the importance of spending time with family and friends, because at the end of the day, it’s the people that are close to who matter the most. It can be easy to neglect your relationships during the HSC, but don’t fall into this trap. These are the people who will keep you sane, happy and motivated during the stress of assessments and exams, and at the end of the day, they are what matter most.
HSC Study Tips: Learning, Revision & Exam Preparation
On top of positive self-care habits, it’s also important to have good study habits if you want to ace Year 12. So, let’s go through my top HSC study tips for productively managing stress, procrastination and a heavy workload.
1. Work Together
When studying, I would often feel really lonely and unmotivated. The solution? My friends and I organised group study sessions, either online or in the library. It was a good way to stay connected and motivated, all while also working productively together. We also used the Forest app to help us stay focused. Try it out!
2. Get Expert Feedback
If you were to ask Chandler Bing for HSC advice, he’d probably say: “I’m not great at the advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?” That’s why, when looking to improve academically, it’s vital you get feedback from subject-matter experts.
During my Year 12, Education Consultant DJ Kim offered me inspirational advice on how to stay on track and manage my workload. In the same way, after reaching out to my Matrix math teacher Daniel Tran, he made sure to follow up on me every week to see how I was going. On that note, you should definitely go follow his fan account on instagram, @dantranfans. Suffice to say, you have to be a pretty epic teacher to get your own fan page.
3. Set Goals (And Stick To Them)
This HSC study tip sounds obvious, but it was the one thing that enabled me to stay on top of things and maintain my work ethic among all the stress and grief. The mark of a successful person is whether they show up on their worst day, but the trick to this insane motivation is usually just making your worst days as easy for yourself as possible.
Personally, I made sure I had daily goals set for each one of my study sessions. These goals were never “complete assignment X” or anything that big, but rather smaller, broken down pieces of bigger tasks. This way, I didn’t feel too daunted when starting on my goals, and I could easily complete a few of them in short, set time frames.
For example, when completing Matrix’s Chemistry Workbook, I split up all the questions into four sections, and allocated 20-25 minutes for each section. After all, the goal “finish Q1-4” is a much easier goal to approach than “finish the entire workbook”. Todoist is a great way to organise these afternoon study sessions; go check it out!
4. Do Matrix Holiday Courses
This final HSC study tip is probably the one that helped me the most with motivation and self-discipline. Matrix’s holiday courses are a really fun way to stay accountable and learn course content in advance. They’re also especially fun when you attend them with your friends; having a familiar support network join you for nine days of consecutive learning is no doubt the best way to keep holiday study fun.
At the end of Joey’s story, he ends up getting an even bigger role on another TV show. Though things got hard and he had to persevere through grief and stress, he kept going and things got better. Better than they ever had been before.
Even though my grandmother passed away, she taught me how to be a hard worker and her kindness still lives on in my heart. When I study, her memory motivates me, because I know she would want her granddaughter to work diligently and succeed. So this year, I remained diligent. With the help of friends, family, a few very special mentors and these very HSC study tips, I was able to get back on my feet. So, as you walk away from this article (with hopefully a few more study and self-care hacks up your sleeve), remember that not only can adversity be overcome, but it can make you stronger.
Now, let’s all take a page out of Phoebe’s book and hit the books, because as she famously put it: “I’m not running away from hard work, I’m running towards it.”
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