Get HSC Ready in 28 Days | Free HSC Study Planning Kit

Need to get HSC ready in 28 days? In this Guide, we're going to show you how to plan, figure out your priorities, and allocate time.

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You’re a month out from your HSC and the reality is starting to sink in – I have to get HSC ready in 28 days! 😱😱😱 Should you panic? No! Instead, you have to get organised and plan for success. To help you, in this guide, we’re going to tell you how to identify your weaknesses, plot a course to success, and action it with a 28-day plan!

Are you ready? Well, buckle up! We’re going to get you HSC ready in 28 days!

 

How do I get HSC ready in 28 days?

In this article, we’re going to explain to you how to assess strengths and weaknesses to formulate your plan in 5 steps,

  1. Figure out your aims – University. Degree. ATAR.
  2. Rate your subjects
  3. Allocate your time
  4. Set your subject study goals
  5. Write your 28 day timetable

With 28 days to go, we don’t have time to muck about. Let’s get planning.

 

How do you assess your strengths and weaknesses to formulate your plan?

The first thing you’ve got to do is assess where you’re at. This is the hard bit.

You need to honestly reflect upon where you’re at what and what you’re nailing and what you’re not!

However, this is easier said than done. How does one accurately and effectively explain where they’re at?

What you need to do is follow a process! And we’ve broken it down into 5 accessible steps.

Read on!

 

How to self-assess, plan and timetable for HSC success in 5 steps!

Step 1: Figure out your aims. University. Degree. ATAR.

By now you know what you want to study and you’ve put in for places at several degrees. But what do you need to achieve to get there?

Now’s the time to double-check the entrance requirements for your degree. Check out the UAC website, and search up your course.

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days uac search

 

Then, pick the course you’re aiming for and check the ATAR entry requirement for the previous year:

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days uac course entrance requirement

For example, the Bachelor of Advanced Computing/ Bachelor Science (Health) at USYD requires a minimum ATAR of 90.00

 

Next, you need to use an ATAR Calculator to tell you what marks you need to achieve the ATAR for that course. The Matrix ATAR calculator (powered by Learnable) will tell you what marks you need to achieve the ATAR you for admission to your course.

 

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days atar calculator See the marks you need to achieve

 

You need to use this report to focus your efforts. You need to assess what marks you need and where you are at.

But how?

The AIR report from the Matrix ATAR calculator breaks down your subjects to show you the marks you need and the potential scaling (based on the previous years’ ATARs) that those subject might accrue.

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days scaled result

Image: AIR Report scaling opportunities

 

This report will give you an indication of where your efforts are going to be most effective. You can target the subjects that are going to see the most significant scaling for your HSC mark.

The ATAR boost report is especially useful for this as it will show you which of your subjects will receive the most and least amounts of scaling.

For example, English is compulsory and English Advanced receives a scaling bump for higher achievers:

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days ATAR boosters

Image: AIR report ATAR Boosts

 

The ATAR Boost report can help you focus your efforts on subjects that will be rewarded with the higher proportion of scaling:

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days ATAR boosters - highest

Image: AIR Report shows which subject will accrue the most scaling. This is an important tool for focusing your efforts

 

The final part of the AIR Report breaks each subject down by mark and provides actionable advice for how you can improve your marks.

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days Subject breakdown

Use the Subject Report to see how to improve your study practices and your marks.

Take the time to study all of this information. You especially want to note down what your current mark is and what the mark you need for the HSC is. The discrepancy between these will help you plan your next steps. Let’s look at how to do that.

 

 

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Step 2: Rate your subjects

To progress and consolidate, or save, your subjects for the HSC, you need to appraise your current position.

This means rating your subjects for how you’ve succeeded.

First, grab your final school report and see where you sit within your class. What is your rank for each subject?

You want to rank your subjects according to where you sit in the cohort. For the subject where you have the highest internal rank, give it a 1. For the subject with the lowest, give it a 5 or 6 depending on how many subjects you’re taking.

Next, go through the syllabus (you can find all the HSC syllabuses here on the NESA website) for each subject and rate each dot point syllabus depending on your confidence level

  • A = Super confident
  • B = Barely confident
  • C = Terrible at it.

Tally these up and figure out your average confidence for each subject. For example, if for Maths Ext 1 you mostly rated yourself as B confidence and it is your 2nd best subject with a rank of 5/60 you’d rank that as 2B.

Once you’ve ranked yourself for each subject, you need to see what subjects are going to get the biggest return investment on effort. To figure this out, we’re going to use the AIR report’s Boost and subject reports to see which subjects get the largest scaling hit.

What does this look like?

Okay. Let’s see how we can do this:

List your subjects from strongest to weakest – 1-5 or 1-6, etc.

What is their scaling like – good, neutral, poor? Note this, it will help you determine what to focus on. Use your AIR report to determine which subjects have the best cost (hours invested)/benefit (return in marks) outcomes.

Label them in terms of urgency – most urgent (need to make up ground), Least urgent (need to maintain marks).

 

Let’s look at a case study to see how this works.

Selma wants to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) (Civil) / Bachelor of Surveying at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Her current trajectory after HSC Trials sees her at:

Table: Selma’s current and required marks for the HSC to get an ATAR of 93
SubjectCurrent (pre-HSC) markRequired Mark
(according to ATAR Calculator)
English Extension4044
English Adv8088
Maths Ext 13941
Maths Adv9189
Chemistry8885
Physics8684
ATAR Estimate90.5593

Selma needs to add an additional 2.5 points on her ATAR. Selma can use the ATAR calculator to reverse engineer what she should be scoring on her weakest subjects by toggling the scores:

using the ATAR calculator to figure out where the biggest opportunities lie

The ATAR Calculator is an excellent tool for study tactics and planning!

Selma then reads her AIR report to see what subjects are going to help her find the biggest gains if she focuses her final efforts on them.

Get HSC Ready in 28 Days Get HSC Ready in 28 Days Selama's Boost subjects

The AIR Report shows which subjects will help Selma boost her ATAR!

Selma realises that she needs to improve by 4 marks for English Advanced, 2 for Maths Advanced, 2 marks for Physics, and 1 for Chemistry. As Maths Ext 1 accrues the lowest scaling, she just needs to maintain her score and similarly, she just needs to hold steady with her Ext 1 English mark as the scaling for the other subjects is better.

Selma plots all of this data into a table and also ranks all of her subjects:

Table: Selma’s current and required marks for the HSC to get an ATAR of 93
SubjectSubject RatingCurrent (pre-HSC) markRequired Mark
(after calculating best efficiency)
English Ext 15 B4040
English Adv4 C8084
Maths Ext 16 B3939
Maths Adv1 A9193
Chemistry2 B8889
Physics3 C8688
ATAR Estimate90.5593.25

So Selma has ranked her subjects as:

  1. Maths Adv 1A – Needs 2 more marks
  2. Chemistry 2B – Requires 1 mark
  3. Physics 3C – Requires 2 marks
  4. English Adv 4C – Needs 4 more marks
  5. English Ext 1 5B – Hold steady
  6. Maths Ext 1 6B – Hold steady

Using this process, Selma can now hone in on what subjects are her priorities, in terms of urgency and effort:

  1. English Adv 4C – Needs 4 more marks
  2. Physics 3C – Requires 2 marks
  3. Maths Adv 1A – Needs 2 more marks
  4. Chemistry 2B – Requires 1 mark

Selma now has her targets and is ready to timetable her next 30 days to make sure she gets into her degree. It’ll be a bit of hard work, but it’s totes going to be worth it!

Now you want to do what Selma has done, analyse your subjects and marks and identify the importance of your subjects!

Have you done that, now? Good. Let’s allocate your time!

 

Step 3: Allocate your time

Before you can timetable your life away, you really need to know how much time you have and how much time you can allocate to your efforts. In the 4 weeks leading up the HSC, you have to figure out how many hours a day you can study and then decide how much of that you need to allocate to each subject.

Remember, just because you need to improve some marks doesn’t mean you can neglect the subjects you only need to maintain.

The first thing you want to do is jot down your HSC exam dates in your calendar. Ideally, you want to have a big wall calendar that you can pin above your study space you’ve got a constant reminder of when your exams are.

Next, you need to figure out the available time that you have. This means deciding:

  • How many hours can you allocate per day to study?
  • How many days a week can you study?

 

How many hours a day should I study?

To make these decisions, you need to be as realistic as possible. You might think that studying 12-hours a day for a month is an effective plan to start with, but the truth is that’s a terrible idea.

Effective study means working to maximum efficiency and retention. 12 hours a day revising, writing, and doing practice exams isn’t going to help you retain or learn a huge amount of new information.

If you think about the structure of school, you spend 6 hours a day on-campus and probably do 2 – 3 hours of study off-campus. That equates to about 7-8 hours of learning each day. This works for the vast majority of students. Yes, there are outlier who score high ATARs who study less or more, but this is a good benchmark.

After all, 7 – 8 hours of effective study is going to be much more efficient than 12 hours littered with distractions or brain fades where your mind stops retaining information.

 

How many days a week should I study?

You don’t go to school 7-days a week, so, similarly, you should be cautious about studying every day for 4 weeks. Instead, you should strive to have at least one day off each week. You don’t want to hit the HSC exhausted!

A good aim is to study for 5 full days and maybe do some light revision over the remaining day. If you do have the irrepressible urge to study 7 days a week, make sure that at least two of those days are shorter days with plenty of breaks and R&R.

Considering this, the average Matrix student in STUVAC studies for 5 X 7-8 hour days and does one shorter day of 3-4 hours with one day off.

\( (5 \times 8)  + 4 = 44 \ \text{hours a week}\)

Your individual goal might change, but 44 hours a week isn’t an unreasonable target.

Now what you need to do is figure out how much of that 44 hours you can allocate to each subject. But, how do you do this?

Well, you need to take into account:

  • How many subjects you are taking
  • How much you need to improve in the subject
  • Whether the subject is going to accrue scaling, and if so, how much
  • How many hours you have each week.

Fortunately, you’ve ranked your subjects already. Now you’ve just got to assign the time to it for each week.

It might seem straightforward to say, “I’ve 10 units, so I’ll just divide my 44 hours by 10 and spend 4.4 hours a week on each unit!” And, this isn’t a terrible idea, but it is not as effective as it could be.

Instead, you want to target your units according to their need and urgency. We’ve already considered need in Step 3, above, but what’s meant by urgency?

Well, while the HSC might be a month away, not every subject is on the same day. Instead, they’re spread over 4 weeks. For example (from the 2020 HSC timetable),

  • English Adv kicks the HSC off on Day 1 and then Day 2
  • Maths exams are in Week 2
  • Physics is in Week 3
  • Chemistry is in Week 4
  • The last exam is Drama on day 17.

What does this mean? Well, it means you can plan your 28-day study timetable in the lead up to the HSC around the fact that some exams are sooner and others are later.

How do I use this information to weight my study plan? Let’s use Selma as an example again to explain.

Remember, Selma’s situation was:

Table: Selma’s current and required marks for the HSC to get an ATAR of 93
SubjectSubject RatingCurrent (pre-HSC) markRequired Mark
(after calculating best efficiency)
English Ext 15 B4040
English Adv4 C8084
Maths Ext 16 B3939
Maths Adv1 A9193
Chemistry2 B8889
Physics3 C8688
ATAR Estimate90.5593.25

And she’d identified her key subjects as:

  1. English Adv 4C – Needs 4 more marks
  2. Physics 3C – Requires 2 marks
  3. Maths Adv 1A – Needs 2 more marks
  4. Chemistry 2B – Requires 1 mark

Notice how she’s not included her extension 1 subjects, this isn’t because she doesn’t or isn’t going to study for them but because she isn’t focusing on them – they’ll get the minimum amount of study time.

If we use the 2020 exam calendar to see when her exams are, we can see that she has the following timetable:

Table for allocating priority and urgency
Subject (in ranked order)Exam date
1. English Adv 4C20/10/2020 Day 1 of HSC (29 days away)
2. Physics 3C06/11/2020 Day 14 of HSC (45 days away)
3. Maths Adv 1A26/10/2020 Day 5 of HSC (34 days away)
4. Chemistry 2B09/12/2020 Day 15 of HSC (49 days away)
5. English Ext 109/10/2020 Day 38 of HSC (49 days away)
6. Maths Ext 130/10/2020 Day 15 of HSC (38 days away)

So, what does this tell us?

  1. English is the most pressing and important subjects – Selma needs 4 marks and only has a month!
  2. While Physics is her 2nd priority, it is at the end of Week 3 – this is her 3rd priority
  3. Maths Adv starts Week 2 and is important – this should receive the 2nd largest allocation of time
  4. Chemistry is the least pressing of the important subjects – this is her 4th priority
  5. Maths Ext 1 is at the end of the 2nd week – this is the 5th priority
  6. English Ext 1 is on the same day as Chemistry, it is her last exam!

From this, we can tell that Selma needs to focus on English Advanced and Maths Advanced first and foremost. So, rather than allocating 4.4 hours a week for each unit of these subjects, she should allocate more.

A good trick is to set up a simple spreadsheet to calculate how many hours you can allocate to each subject.

 

Get HSC ready in 28 days calculate hours per subject with a spreadsheet

Use spreadsheets to calculate time per subject

If you’re wondering how to weigh how much time you should place to each subject, try adding 1.5 hours for each unit for the most urgent subjects and taking that away from the weakest. Then, for the other units work down 1 hour and then 30 minutes per unit. (It won’t be perfect, but it is a great guide!)

This is the hardest part of setting up your timetable. The last thing to do before you put it all together is to set some study goals.

Let’s see how to do that, now.

 

Step 4: Set your subject study goals

Study is overwhelming unless you break it down into manageable chunks.

You’re not going to achieve much by sitting down and attempting to do an English Paper 1 and Paper 2 and read a novel in one sitting. On their own, sitting practice papers and rereading English texts are admirable study goals – you all should be aiming to to do that! But trying to CRAM it together, you’ll end up tired an irritable, won’t learn, and probably recall less. Instead, you need to break these kind of goals up over a series of days and weeks.

So, how do I do this?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

First, list all the study goals you have each subject in a table. For example, consider the following to do list:

English AdvMaths AdvPhysics
Paper 1 practice each weekSketch practice graphs for MA-T3Motion of projectiles/ Gravitational fields
Paper 2 practice each week2019 HSC paperPast Baulko Trial papers each week
Reread CM textMA-C4 practice questions (anti-derivatives)Answer inquiry Questions for Mod 8
4 scaffolding drills for Mod B each weekPast Ruse Trial Papers each week2019 HSC paper

Next, you want to break down each subject into a set of weekly goals.

Physics weekly goals
Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4
Motion of projectilesGravitational fieldsElectromagnetic spectrumLight: Wave model
Baulko 2019 Trial PaperBaulko 2020 Trial PaperHSC 2019 Trial PaperRuse 2019 Trial Paper
Mod 8 inquiry q: origin of elementsMod 8 inquiry q: nature of AtomMod 8 inquiry q:Properties of nucleusRevise Mod 8 Inquiry Qs

Then, when you’re populating your study timetable you can segment those further within your daily goals!

Remember, when planning study goals aim for realistic outcomes, not dreams. You want to achieve your aims, not be disheartened and increasingly stressed because you failed to meet your targets.

Now you’ve got your time allocations and study goals, you’re able to put it all together!

 

Step 5: Write your 28 day study timetable

Now, we’re ready to write up a study timetable for the next month. First, we have to set some rules for how we allocate things:

  1. One day off each week
  2. One half-day each week
  3. Spread subjects across the week, not just one day!
  4. Regular breaks
  5. Regular meals
  6. Consistent sleep
  7. Mix up your subjects
  8. Create a routine, stick to it!

That might seem like a lot of rules, but they’re important. The most important ones are the first and last. At least one day off and,

Create a routine and stick to it!

First you should set up a broad planner that has key daily goals on it for the month. It might look like this:

TuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayMonday
Week 1Paper 1 Eng AdvMaths Ext 1 2019Chem 2019
Week 2Maths Adv 2019Physics 2019Paper 2 Eng Adv
Week 3Ruse Maths Ext 1 TrialBaulko Eng Ext 1 Trial
Week 4

You want to plan things around an 8 hour day. 7 hours work and 40 minutes for lunch and morning tea. It might help to break your day into 7 50-minute blacks with a 10 minute breather between each subject, or maybe you’ll have shorter breathers and a longer mid-afternoon break. So, you may want to start from a timetable that looks like this:

Table: An example of how to structure a week’s timetable
Week 1:MonTuesWedThursFriSatSun
9-9:55Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R
10-10:55Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R
Morning tea
11:20- 12:15Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R
Lunch
1-1:55Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R
2-2:55Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R
Afternoon break
3:15-4:10Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R
4:15-5:10Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
Subject:
Goal:
R&R

Download a Study Planning Kit. Ace your HSC.

 

What next?

Now it’s your turn. Now you know how to plan out the next 4 weeks of your life, you need to do it! If you need some subject specific advice and help, on the next pages we’ve put together some specific advice for Maths, Science, and English and included some sample timetables.

Don’t forget to to download our study pack with planning templates that you can print out and stick to!

Now, we’ll show you how to plan the next 28 days for English so you can ace your HSC.

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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