In this post, St Ursula College Student Nia shares how she plans for success from day 1!
Being organised is essential for High School achievement. Read on as Nia explains how to plan for success from day 1!
St Ursula’s College
UNSW, Bachelor of Medicine
My Dream Career is to become a Dermatologist.
Alongside having a passion for problem-solving and helping other people, I am quite interested in the way our skin works.
As the body’s biggest organ, it can develop so many issues. And, as something that we just can’t hide, it can alter our self-confidence in days.
Having gotten the short-end of the stick when it comes to my own skin, I want to be able to help others regain confidence in their appearance and find solutions to a range of medical issues.
I tend to perform well across most subjects, but due to the great interest I have in Mathematics, I would say that Ext. 1 Mathematics is my best.
I enjoyed the texts that we looked at this year, and some of the ideas behind them. This allowed me to confidently apply my knowledge under test conditions.
My worst performing subject is PDHPE. This most likely comes down to my lack of enthusiasm for the subject, and the fact that it is my last compulsory year of it.
I perform pretty horribly when it comes to the practical component of PDHPE, especially the beep test. While I do enjoy sport to some extent, I feel as though the PDHPE testing system could be improved to accommodate a wider range of physical abilities.
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When it comes to planning for an English assignment, your preparation should really start from day 1.
If completing a close study of a novel, it’s almost impossible to read the text, analyse and even get a few practice essays done within a week or two.
From the day you start a text, it is, therefore, extremely important that you start by actually reading it!
While the essay that you complete will be shaped around three main themes or ideas, often reading the text allows you to understand these themes at a more deeper level.
This can build your confidence when you are in the exam room, without any quotes or notes.
From day one, it is also important that you keep a ‘journal’ or ‘log’ of the quotes you analyse in class. I tend to construct a large table with column headings along the lines of:
This means that when it comes to writing practice essays, or completing your exam, you can pull out the right examples to suit the question.
For me, taking notes when it comes to preparing for a math test is quite different from other subjects.
It is helpful to note that math, while it relies on theory, is more useful on a practical level. This means actually completing a number of textbook questions, and not just ‘learning’ the theory behind the topic, will help you perform well.
Completing questions should guide you in creating notes – I tend to note down every mistake I make and how to avoid it.
Often these mistakes are mindless, but it is still useful, since they are so easy to lose marks in an exam. This should form part of your notes, but not exclusively.
Most exam questions can be considered ‘’routine’’ and, therefore, have a set method of approach. In other words, these are the questions that you really don’t want to lose marks on.
So, making step-by-step notes on how to approach routine questions, and then applying the process that works for you (and I can’t stress this enough – as long as it is an approved, correct method) is quite helpful.
Non-routine questions, however, can only be mastered with practice, and often a good understanding of routine questions.
In preparing for your Math tests, these skills should be condensed to the topics that are on your notification.
When faced with multiple assessments, I’m often able to manage my stress through a number of hobbies.
I am an avid reader, and also enjoy watching movies. This means that when it comes to balancing out unwinding with school tasks, it is meaningful to be able to ‘escape’ into a different scenario or world. More generally as a form of entertainment, watching a favourite Netflix series or reading a novel can refresh your thinking, so that when you return to studying you are more responsive.
Another hobby which I use to unwind is playing the Violin. I have played the Violin for around ten years now, but use it nowadays as a method of relaxing and taking a break from studying.
Any form of outlet, hobby or part-time job is always a good way of unwinding from schoolwork and minimising stress.
These activities are vital to improving your memory and often give you the motivation to complete something.
While it has been said again and again, sleep is the most important component to doing well!
If you pull an all-nighter, the longer you stay up before an exam, supposedly studying, you are decreasing the amount of focus you will have during the exam. The mass benefits of sleep can be found within one Google search, of which ‘improving memory’ is one.
Though it does vary, getting eight to nine hours of sleep each night will allow you to memorise and apply what you have learnt at a more responsive level, even if you didn’t quite learn everything you were supposed to. It is better to be able to apply 85% in a test when you are fully rested and know a majority of the content, than to be unfocused and to ‘’apply’’ everything learnt the night before.
Exercise should form a regular part of your week. Like sleep, it is also vital to doing well as well as (and more importantly) staying healthy. It is useful for reducing stress and maintaining a healthy study rhythm. Therefore, you should try to schedule any form of exercise for at least twice a week. However, if there comes a week where you are loaded with assessments, it is okay to miss a session or two.
Relaxing is another essential component to success. Taking up a hobby, part-time job, team-sport or doing whatever takes your mind off school or studying is highly beneficial.
We are all different and unique, as cliche as it sounds, and this doesn’t just apply to our personalities. The way that we, as individuals, prefer to study, understand the content and learn, will always be completely different from another person.
If student A, for example, chooses to study for 3 hours on one afternoon, don’t allow their study practice to misguide you or make you more anxious.
This is because, as long as you have made some sort of plan towards studying, you will feel more comfortable adopting your own study approach. If this means starting the assessment or studying one week later than others, then follow your own study pattern.
As obvious as this might sound, it can be too easy to feel intimidated by other people’s study routines. It is therefore vital that you try to block out the comparisons we can often make of ourselves to others.
Studying, studying and more studying is never the key to success. You need to find a balance between social life, regular exercise and focus when it comes to studying is what allows for the greatest success.
The first step to this is breaking up your study.
Taking 10-minute breaks or dedicating the afternoon to doing something you enjoy can be all that it takes to reset your focus and build motivation.
As humans, we are all subject to failure. Not only is this normal, but a beneficial aspect of learning, and more in general, living.
Mistakes and failures are one of the best tools if you know how to use them.
When faced with a mistake, for example in a test, take time to reflect on how you may have made it. Perhaps it was just a stupid mistake, or otherwise a textbook chapter you should have probably looked over. Whatever it was, take some time to understand what you can do to avoid it, and set up a ‘system’ or plan, so that over time you can work to completely avoiding this mistake. Specifically, you might need to re-plan your goals — maybe they were too high.
Yet, in saying this, never let these failures wear you down, or stunt your confidence in the next exam — “The past remains the past. We can learn from it, but we cannot change it.”