Caitlyn’s HSC Hacks: Top Study Tips for Maximising Your Holidays

While many students see holidays as a time to relax and socialise, Matrix scholar and PLC student Caitlyn knows there is no more important time to get ahead of your studies.

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The last bell for school rings and you rush out with the throng of jostling, happy students, wishing your peers and teachers a very safe, relaxing holiday. Except, you’re likely dreading those six practice essays your teacher set, not to mention the very thick booklet of prescribed texts for next term – and that’s just for English.

While it can be tempting to put these tasks off until the term, the simple truth is that all the study tips in the world won’t save you from a wasted holiday period.

So, when should you rest, and when should you work? How can you ensure your holidays are a healthy balance of productivity, rest and fun? Well, here are my top HSC study tips for maximising your time during the holidays.


1. Make a List of Your Priorities

Your teachers will probably set you a mountain of holiday homework, or “Easter/Christmas fun”, and it can be challenging to manage it all. First of all, make a list of all your holiday work for each subject; this includes things like revision, assigned holiday homework and the prep you need to do for next term (like reading a future prescribed text or getting one chapter ahead in your Cambridge textbook).



Next, prioritise. During holidays you usually have the luxury of choice, and you get to decide what you do and when, so choose your most important subjects or homework first, then move on to lower-priority work. Personally, I find English requires more concentration, so it’s usually the first subject I tackle each day, after which I move onto math or chemistry. Holidays are also a great time to prioritise external admissions tests, like the UCAT, SAT or LAT, so if you’re looking to pursue an alternative education pathway, sometimes putting these first is appropriate during the holidays.


2. Set a Rhythm

Now that you’ve got your list, my next best HSC study tip is to set a rhythm for your holidays. Plan to study one or two different subjects each day, devoting an hour or two to each. For myself, I find 1-hour chunks work, and are flexible enough to finish something well, without procrastinating. As my day is usually timetabled around my Matrix holiday courses, which run from 9:30am to 4:30pm, I fit in these study chunks from 5:30pm to 6:30pm, and in the morning before coming to Matrix. Weekends are usually breaks to work on subjects I might not have gotten round to during the week, and to relax and socialise.


Year 12 Study Strategies


Since English is the bane of my existence, and a constant revision target, I usually aim to work through my list of English “To-dos” every weekday of the holidays, so that I can keep my practice consistent over the school break. Depending on your focus, availability and the length of time you can concentrate for, you can customise the number of subjects you study each day (you could probably even derive an equation for that – I’m looking at you fellow extension 1 maths kids…). On days I’m not attending a Matrix holiday course, I usually aim for three subjects per day – as it’s satisfying to finish them all, and it only takes about three hours. Some people may work better doing two subjects, especially if they prefer longer study sessions, or even four if they have insane mental endurance. I also sometimes plan days when I won’t do any work at all, as it’s important to enjoy some fun holiday plans and maintain a good work-life balance.

If you find that you’re not able to finish all the work you planned for a particular subject within the hour or two you allocated to it, don’t feel disheartened. Consider making your study periods longer and reducing your subject load each day, or doing two study periods on a single subject each day. If you’re nearing the end of an assigned study period, but you know you’re in the zone, keep going! A good rule of thumb for these study periods is that you only HAVE to do one or two hours, but if you find yourself powering through, ride that train of productivity. On the other hand, if it’s something you can pick up later – like a maths exercise that you’re only halfway through – and you really need a break, flag it and leave it for your next maths study period. It can be a good revision tool to see if you can remember those new skills in a few days when you have time to finish it off.


3. The Ultimate HSC Study Tip: Use Holiday Courses

This is perhaps my most full-proof HSC study tip, mainly because it’s one of the few ways to have your holiday study sessions planned for you. What a breeze! Holiday courses are an effective way to fast-track your studies during the school holidays, acting as a form of preparation and an efficient way of covering content before school starts. Personally, I did the Matrix Chemistry and Physics holiday courses, which cover the whole module for each subject. The courses, offered for both Year 11 and 12, guide you through the curriculum content, ensuring you have covered every dot point in the NESA syllabus. This understanding is consolidated in the Matrix workbooks that you complete each day, and tested through daily quizzes marked by knowledgeable teachers who offer in-depth feedback. After learning all the content for a module, you have the opportunity to sit a topic test, which puts you under exam conditions and examines not only your knowledge on that module, but also your exam technique.

All your work is marked, providing you with feedback on what areas you need to be more focused on during term, and offering you a benchmark to see how much knowledge you’ve retained. Another benefit is that since you’ve already learnt the core content over the holidays, during the school term, you can solely focus on revision; study becomes less about having to learn new concepts, and more about refining your exam technique and exposing yourself to new questions, ultimately helping you to become an exponentially more effective student! It’s also an effective way to learn things during the holidays if you feel unmotivated, or struggle with procrastination or time management. At the Matrix courses, your study time is structured, and you are surrounded by driven students and inspirational Matrix teachers who can help lift your spirits.


HSC Study Tips


While holidays bear delightful connotations of freedom and relaxation (not to mention no school!), they can be so much more. Not only are they a time for rest and socialising, a time to recharge your battery, but they are also a great opportunity to catch-up on and revise old content, as well as master new skills and get ahead before the upcoming term. The holidays are not a time to get lazy, but a time to maintain your mental fitness in preparation for the HSC.

Above, we’ve gone over my top HSC study tips for the holidays. Personally, I’ve found that planning study periods and participating in holiday courses were the most helpful in allowing me to execute a healthy balance between work and leisure.

Otherwise, my last words of advice to you are this: Every minute you spend working during the holidays is a minute you can spend resting and revising during the school term, when you’ll REALLY need it.

Next, stay connected with people. The friends that lift you up and the family that support you no matter what – they are the ones you’ll need in your corner when things get tough.

And finally, remember, all the sun-kissed shores, European villas, video-games and time spent doing, well, absolutely nothing (what many of us know as schoolies) will be waiting for you after the HSC. Study hard, and make sure you can enjoy this time knowing you gave the HSC everything you had. Wishing you all the best in your studies!


Get ahead in the holidays

Learn a whole term's work in the school holidays. Experienced teachers, Band 6 resources,
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Written by Guest Author

We have regular contributions to our blog from our Tutor Team and high performing Matrix Students. Come back regularly for these guest posts to learn their study hacks and insights!

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