Are you struggling with a particular subject significantly more than your other subjects? Well, you came to the right place! Jonathan shares his top tips to improve his weaker subjects.
Struggling with English. Feel you are doomed by your English Advanced Rank? Don’t worry! In this article, Baulkham Hills student and Matrix alumni, Jonathan, explains how he turned things around and how to save your HSC English mark.
Baulkham Hills High School
B Vision Science/M Clinical Optometry (UNSW)
I want to be an optometrist.
I would like to do missionary work in Third World Countries with organisations such as Compassion.
I performed the best in Maths Ext 1 because I spent the most time on it.
I drilled through many past papers from my school and other schools such as Sydney Grammar, James Ruse and Sydney Boys.
I performed the worst in English Advanced, especially in Preliminary because I neglected it.
I only turned up the momentum in my HSC year by dedicating more time to English. This significantly improved my marks.
In Year 11, my English marks were straight-up terrible.
For the first two assessments, I was averaging ~62%. I knew something had to change.
After allocating more time to it, I achieved a 19/20 for my final assessment in Preliminary.
The first assessment at my school was a reading task… which I scored poorly on.
This highlighted the need for me to spend more time on unseen texts and short answer questions.
The other assessments were essays for Module A and B and a hand-in discursive and reflection piece for Module C.
These marks also pushed me to further improve my Module A essay and Module C reflection.
|Common Module Reading Task||15/20|
|Common Module Essay||17/20|
|Module C was not assessable for the Trial||–|
This improved my rank significantly. After the first semester, I was ranking 133/202. After the Trial, my rank was 97/202.
I attended the Module C workshop during the holiday of Term 2 which I found very helpful in improving my creative and reflective writing.
We did writing tasks every day that got marked by my teacher (Mr Pat Condliffe). He read it overnight and gave feedback the next day.
This significantly improved my creative writing skills and this, in turn, boosted my confidence in my own writing.
Sharpen your analysis and writing skills at home! With Matrix+, we provide you with clear and structured online lesson videos, quality resources, and forums to ask your Matrix teachers questions and for feedback.
These were the main points that I needed to work on in my weaker Modules.
In my study and review, I would concentrate on these points and keep them in mind when writing practice essays.
|Module||Points to improve|
|Module C Reflection||Paragraph 1:|
1. Adapt your paragraph to wide variety of questions
When preparing for an in-class essay, practise adapting each paragraph to a wide variety of questions for that particular module.
Give yourself a time limit for each i.e. 5 min for introduction and conclusion and 8 min for body paragraphs
2. Give your drafts to your teachers
Never be shy to give your essays to your teachers to mark! (both at Matrix and at school)
Feedback from your teachers will be especially valuable as they mark your school assessments!
3. Ask older students for tips
Ask the students in grades above you for help and tips, especially those who did very well!
I did this the night before the actual HSC and it really helped (though, you should probably do it earlier than when I did it!)
4. Do practice questions
Do plenty of practice questions leading up to each exam.
This will equip you with a wide range of ideas on how to structure your response to fully answer the question.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t as stressed for the Trials and HSC as I thought I would be.
I think this is because I found the balance between ‘stress’ and ‘relaxing’ which allowed me to optimise my performance while also not becoming too anxious and panicked.
I gave myself regular breaks of around 15-20 min between each study session (2-3 hrs).
In these breaks I would grab some food, maybe go for a run/walk or shoot some hoops on my basketball ring.
I definitely do not recommend staying in the same seat for your break. You really need to change your environment around you to freshen your brain before you return to the grind.
My stress levels were not very high at all through my senior years as I had always started reviewing for tests quite early quite early. For example, for Maths, it was a consistent review throughout the year, for Science subjects it was about 4 to 6 weeks prior to the exam with a combination of review and note-making based on the syllabus. For English, it should ideally be 4 weeks prior.
This allowed me to feel well prepared before the exam, instead of cramming the night before.
My biggest regret would probably be neglecting English until the week before Paper 1 for the HSC.
My initial mindset was to focus on all the things that I enjoyed first: Maths and the Sciences.
So, in that final week, I would feel the pressure and would completely focus on English.
This poor choice led me to be a little more stressed than usual.
I frantically edited essays and memorised quotes and techniques while balancing speed and legibility in my writing.
To avoid this stress, I could definitely have started earlier, this would have allowed me to try a wider variety of questions, especially extract questions in Module B.
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