Why some students underperform in the exam room

Feb 17, 2021

Why do some students underperform in the exam room despite putting in hours and hours of hard work?  

This is something we see when students arrive at HSC CoWorks. There is a lot of frustration and occasionally feelings of being demoralised because a student has put in hours and hours of what we would call well intentioned work but at the same time as being well intentioned its ineffective. When we are training for the exam room we need to give our brain the very best opportunity to be able to perform under those exam conditions and the only way to do that is to continually simulate those exam conditions.


Why should students be aiming to know their foundation of content for each subject as well as any other student from their school? 

In order to be prepared for any exam and any question we must have high levels of certainty around the foundational content. I guarantee in any and every school across NSW the students that are coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd in their respective subjects can recall every aspect of the foundational content without even thinking about it. Foundational content refers to the syllabus and other associated ideas e.g. definitions, formulas etc. Whatever it might be, those students know that material because they are training on a daily basis. The objective for every student is to know their foundational content better than anyone else which in turn sets up a student to be able to move into more difficult training tasks that simulate the exam room and therefore perform to their full potential.  


Watch the video for a more in depth explanation on why students underperform in the exam room.


Why is daily training the brain so important in achieving a great HSC result?

Our brain craves certainty. Unless we are continually training and operating with repetition of our foundational content the connections and pathways in our brain become weaker over time. Small training exercises every single day allow our brain to hardwire that content which is setting us up to be able to perform under exam conditions.  

That really is the key. 


What is an example of a daily training exercise? 

If you know your English quotes do you feel more confident in writing a practice essay? 

Every single student we have asked has said yes I would feel more confident as I would feel more certain around the foundational material in that essay. 

In a typical HSC essay there might be 12-15 quotes that a student uses as part of responding to a question. With those 12 -15 quotes it would be our recommendation to have a master list of those quotes and then from memory write out those quotes every single day. The first time writing it out might be a little bit clunky but with repetition you will gain more certainty and be able to recall these quotes with ease.  



HSC CoWorks provides HSC support for students across our Mosman, Bondi Junction, Chatswood, and Dee Why locations. We are also able to provide support to students across NSW virtually! 

Our Navigating the HSC series provides parents and students with the knowledge they need to navigate their way through the HSC. 

The day is finally here!👏🏼 Congratulations to the class of 2021- we are all so proud of you and all the hard work you have put in. ✨Wishing you luck in the next chapter🎉🎉 ...