In the final stages of HSC campaign 2013 there is only one way to be studying in order to be fully prepared for the exams that lie ahead.

One of our favourite quotes at the office is “without struggle there is no progress” which we have put an HSC slant on it to “if you’re not struggling you’re not studying right”. It is human nature for us to seek out the tasks that create the least amount of stress for us however I think we would all agree that the tasks that offer the least amount of stress provide little opportunity for growth. The student who continually puts themselves under pressure and gets comfortable outside their comfort zone will ultimately come out on top.

What do I mean by “struggling” when studying? If the task that you are doing requires you to think about the best way to solve a problem you will be activating the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) ¬†part of your brain and developing new neural connections/maps which you will own and be able to take into the exam room with you. Too often I see students copying out there essay time and time again and while I acknowledge their commitment, they are not engaging their PFC and therefore not creating new connections. A far better exercise would be to choose a new question and give yourself 45 minutes to do the question without your notes and see how you go. You can go back over your essay once completed to fill in any gaps.

I often use the analogy of building muscles at the gym to explain this. If I pick up a small weight to do some bicep curls will this grow my muscles? No, it’s a complete waste of time. If I lift a weight that is either at my limit or slightly above my limit will my muscles grow? Absolutely. Once I have torn my muscles with the heavier weight I may then go to the lighter weight to tear the muscle further but only after I have struggled with the larger weight.

Relaying that into an HSC context, a student who is reading notes, re-doing notes, searching on the internet for more information, highlighting notes, creating notes is not struggling at all and without struggle there is no progress. On the other hand the student who is practicing writing essays under timed conditions, attempting Maths exams under timed conditions, attempting Economics essays and short answers (you get the idea) under timed conditions is creating new connections and will be fully prepared for the task ahead.

We know that the Pre Frontal Cortex is a limited resource and once exhausted it is difficult to focus on higher level thinking tasks. Doing 3 x 3 hour Mock Exams in one day would be difficult for anyone. Once it is exhausted then a student is able to go to looking at notes and filling in the gaps in their knowledge that they discovered from doing the exam style tasks.

The extra marks and great HSC exam results belong to those students who are prepared to step out of their comfort zone and spend more time than other students in simulating the exam situation. This is why at HSC CoWorks we run an extensive Mock Trial Exam program to provide the best possible simulation of the HSC Exam room. As I write this blog, there are 30 students in our Bondi Junction tuition centre completing an exam. I know that these students will attain much stronger results as a result of this exercise.

If you have any questions about HSC tuition and HSC Coaching at the HSC CoWorks please contact us on 1300 967 890.

Keep up the great work team and enjoy the struggle!


Performance Coach at HSC CoWorks