Many people believe that Year 12 is all study, and no play. However, Nia shares the importance of staying healthy, organised and balanced in order to prevent burn-out in Year 12.
Matrix scholarship holder and St Ursula’s student, Nia Worthington, shares her tips to stay healthy and organised, advice for exam preparation and specific subject hacks to help you prevent burn-out.
St Ursula’s Kingsgrove
Bachelor of Medicine, UNSW
My dream career is to become a Dermatologist!
I have definitely considered other specialities. However, I’ve stuck with this preference because the field not only entails a medical and cosmetic aspect, but a lifestyle that also really appeals to me 🙂
This year I’m continuing with all the subjects I began with – apart from the extra units I have picked up.
I found English Extension to be an extremely interesting and quite ‘laid-back’ course because it really differs from the normal English courses, and really did provide a break from other subjects.
In school, I am part of a few extra-curricular activities, including the school Orchestra, the debating team.
While I definitely have gotten involved in more in the past, I would advise everyone not to cut-back (especially in senior years) on extra-curricular activities in school.
This is because you aren’t at school for too long and it does make the six years a lot more fun when you get involved.
In saying this, I would also suggest not to overload yourself with extra-curricular activities, and only do what you are sure you can be committed.
I really enjoy unravelling ideas in texts, because ultimately these ideas reveal a lot about life.
And, as I see myself as quite a big existentialist, this definitely does provide me some solace!
Quite crazily, in the view of many people, despite my love for English, I also really enjoy Math.
I also think that the two are very interconnected, in that you use the same creativity to solve problems as you do to write narratives or essays.
I am also very analytical, and enjoy spotting patterns, which does help a lot with maths.
I honestly struggle a lot with staying healthy when studying for my exams.
Studying for exams is rigorous enough itself…
But I personally find that during exams, my sleep schedule is completely flipped and that I forget to exercise.
This is something that many people overlook.
Because while it is one thing to struggle with a subject, it is (more serious, in my opinion) to struggle with sleep issues, for example.
When this happens, I have found that my ability to memorise substantially decreases and that I am of course less motivated to get anything done.
Each day, I ensure to eat breakfast before anything. While some people can go hours without it, I really can’t.
So, even when I am not too hungry after waking up, I try and eat something because I know that in another 2-3 hours I will be hungry.
I also try and eat as healthily as possible on a daily basis… which as someone who is borderline addicted to any form of chocolate, can be hard.
Looking after yourself in this way is crucial to success, because your body will not respond to your external demands, such as processing new information, if you haven’t already satisfied its basic needs.
Make sure you get enough sleep before exams, because a lot of silly mistakes can stem from a poor nights sleep!
My advice is to maintain the exact same sleep schedule each night – breaking this rhythm only on the weekend – so that you develop a healthy sleep rhythm.
Maintaining health is the biggest key to school success, and I cannot stress the importance of this!
I keep healthy by ensuring not to overwork! Even though I am often distracted by my phone..
I am also easily prone to over-working, and forgetting to take breaks.
Each week I jog around my neighbourhood, and also make sure to take time to just listen to music and chill out.
I also play the violin, and find that playing during short breaks really relieves stress!
Reducing stress really contributes to staying healthy.
So finding an outlet definitely helps when studying, and more importantly in staying happy 🙂
As a Matrix Scholarship student it can definitely be hard to keep up with all my Matrix classes.
Although, by planning ahead during the term, I am able to fit in my classes with school, as well as actually maintaining a ‘life’.
I complete two of my Matrix classes during the holiday, which lessens my workload during the term.
During the term, I tend to note the priorities I have for the week. Then, I schedule these into each day.
I do not strictly designate time intervals!
For example, I won’t schedule:
Because in my experience, this way of planning is completely unrealistic. Sometimes you master things quickly and have time spare, while other times it will take longer to get across a topic.
Instead, I use dot points to note the most important tasks that need to be completed for that day, and make sure to keep completion within a realistic time frame. This I repeat for each day of the week.
As mentioned previously, I tend to use to-do lists.
While I previously used online to-do lists, I have found it more effective to actually write down my tasks in a physical booklet.
This way, I can add more detail to my to do list and also systematically organise my tasks.
I organise my to-do list by considering what is:
This allows me to effectively prioritise tasks and ensure they’re done in order of urgency.
During holidays I also employ the same process. However, I ensure to include leisure activities, as well as the homework from Matrix Holiday courses.
One of my biggest weaknesses when studying is struggling to work consistently.
I find that every 20-30 minutes I am reaching for my phone, and subsequently losing track of what I am doing.
Even if I use my phone for 5 minutes, it is still a massive distraction!
So, instead of completely neglecting my phone, I did some research and decided to implement the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ into my study rhythm.
The technique involves completing 25 minutes blocks of work, with 5 minute breaks in between. In short, this allows you to effectively study and take breaks.
I find this works best for me, because I find that studying for hours on end becomes inefficient in the long run.
I complete two of my Matrix Courses, Chemistry and Physics during the holidays, which though a lot of work, allows me to make effective use of my time.
In essence, it forces me to complete a large quantity of work which frees up my term for extra-curricular activities as well as reduced stress.
Study ahead during the holidays to save yourself form the stress and workload during the term! Matrix Holiday courses will break down the Physics term in 5 days and provide you with a vast array of practice questions. Learn more now.
My approach to exams slightly varies based on the subject.
I make sure to note the date of my assessment in almost every calendar or diary I know!
This really does help conceptualise how much time I have, and stops me from overestimating how much two weeks really is.
I also make sure to thoroughly go through exam notifications and the corresponding subject syllabus, to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
In preparing for my exams, I not only consult both my Matrix theory and homework book, but refer to the content covered at school.
I ensure that I begin revising the concepts I first struggled with, and DO NOT start with the easy concepts!!
I strongly advise to tackle the harder topics first, and work backwards. During this step, I revise all content.
To practise, I complete as many past papers as possible provided by my school, as well as those from other schools!
It is important to attempt as many different exam questions as possible – under exam conditions – to make mistakes BEFORE going into the test!
When making these mistakes, I ensure to note them down, so that I don’t fall into the same trap again 🙂
Success in English Extension 1 is, foremostly, founded on a genuine passion for English.
You will find yourself succeeding in it when you are genuinely interested in literature!
1. Staying creative (for creatives and essays)
One of the criteria assessed in this course is whether the student has demonstrated creativity.
Creativity can easily be sourced by reading not only multiple fiction and non-fiction texts, but drawing inspiration from music lyrics when listening, and honestly from any form of media.
Thus, when approaching English Extension 1 assessments, I would try my hardest to introduce my own ideas – whether the assessment be a creative task or essay.
It is worthy noting that every idea explored in literature has been ‘recycled’ from the past.
So, it is okay to ‘steal’ ideas (as long as it is not a major aspect of the text!) from other narratives or essays, and mould it into your own 🙂
1. Revise everything, but only complete difficult questions
Unlike in Junior school, it is impossible to complete every question from the textbook in Year 11 Maths.
Therefore, I made sure to only read through every chapter (ensuring I could do all questions) and select the harder questions which I wanted to attempt.
This is extremely effective in that you cover the basics (without writing anything down), but also cover the harder questions.
2. Complete all past paper questions
While I didn’t complete every textbook question, I did make sure to complete every past paper question.
Past papers are a more accurate indication of what may be in your exam, since exams cover multiple chapters and not just one chapter.
3. Maintain a mistakes book
When completing past papers I would ensure to carefully mark my exam, and of course complete the paper under strict exam conditions.
The mistakes I make I enter into a document that is systematically organised so as to identify the topic and source of error of my mistake.
Whether the mistake stems from carelessness or is a conceptual misunderstanding, I would document.
My biggest achievement this year is getting involved with multiple volunteer organisations!
Despite the chaotic circumstances, I was able to provide my assistance to a number of non-profit organisations, which allowed me to break up study.
I really advise to keep up any extra-curricular activities or part-time jobs even during senior years because they help develop valuable communication skills for the real world, as well as provide a break from studying 🙂
1. Take it seriously!
Year 11 definitely is different from your previous junior years.
Even though you are encouraged to use the year to make as many mistakes as possible, definitely still put your all into it!
Use the year to develop solid study rhythms, and fine-tune your note-taking skills, so that you aren’t working these things out at the start of Year 12.
2. Make as many mistakes as possible
This may seem to contradict with the previous suggestion, but even though you’re putting your all into Year 11, DO NOT take your mistakes too harshly!
Mistakes are very effective learning tools.
So, by making them in Year 11 and keeping note of these mistakes, you can avoid them in your senior year.
3. Maintain a positive attitude
As corny as this might sound, it has been proven that telling yourself that you are ‘’dumb’’ or that you are going to ‘’fail’’ after a mistake is simply not healthy.
Often, it leads to you fail.
By avoiding telling yourself these things, and maintaining a positive outlook you will maximise your exam confidence!
1. Cut down on extracurricular activities
Do not cut down on leisure activities in hope of prioritising study!
One can only study so much, and the time that you make for studying (by cutting down on extra-curricular activities) often ends up being unproductive.
2. Take failure to harshly
Even though Year 11 can be daunting as your first senior year, do not fall into the ‘’I’m going to fail my HSC’’ mindset!
Never take the mistakes you make as an indication of intelligence – Everybody makes mistakes!
Make the effort to identify what led to your mistake and note it down.
Year 11 is very different from junior years!
It is simply not possible to cram all your study into even one or two weeks prior to preliminary exams.
You will find that you compromise your health to cram learning content, and the stress is definitely not a great feeling!
Sleeping at 3 am one or two nights before an exam is the last thing you want to be doing In year 11!