In an act of supreme mercy on the part of our educational system, you don’t just sit the HSC once, you get to sit it twice. Yes, celebrate good times, come on, you’ve got the HSC trials coming up!


Now is a good time to work with a tutor to quickly identify exactly how to prepare for the trials


The trials are an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the format of the HSC exam papers, and to test how effectively you’ve employed all our tips on HSC success – from study habits to thesis construction. It’s also a test of physical and mental endurance, but it’s also a way to demystify the ghoul of the final exams. So how can you get through this first big test of the year?


All the old, sage pearls of advice as to studying and exam prep apply, but doubly in this heightened period of pressure. So here’s our Surviving-The-Trials 101:


Get working NOW

You won’t be able to get out of the trial period unscathed if you cram. Indeed, given the fact that the trials test you on all of the year’s work, it’s virtually impossible to cram. Don’t even flirt with the idea.


Plan, Plan Plan!

Organise and plan your study, and stick to a disciplined routine. Time management is of paramount importance here. A good tutor can help you achieve this. 


Spaced Repetition

Great time management and working in well-spaced blocks equates to reduced stress and improved memory retention. Maximising retention also requires repeated exposure to data – so begin revising now.  Remember that you won’t just be tested on your most recent area of study.


Prepare Before the Scare

It is crucial that you prepare draft essays for each section of the trial exam. Prepare a thesis, introduction, and at the very least, a skeleton-structure for your essays that you can easily adapt to the question.

This includes, ideally, 3 creative writing pieces for Paper 1 English, and practice essays for the 4 other modules assigned.

Past papers are of great assistance here. If you don’t have time to practice actually writing out complete essays, give more than a passing thought on how adaptable your current essay is to previous questions. This will hone your ability to

adapt your selected techniques and quotes to whatever slant the question has.

DO NOT write a completely new essay for the question you get. The HSC, unbelievably, doesn’t want to take the mickey out of you. Indeed, all students are ultimately tested on their ability to meet the requirements of the rubric, and its primary focus. Instead, learn how to take what arguments and evidence you’ve accumulated and modify it to the focus of the question. This should involve incorporating the wording of the question into your thesis and subsequent arguments.

A smart tutor should be able to help you identify exactly how to implement these strategies.

Above all, take care of yourself and allocate some time in your life to rest and and recreational activity. And remember, trials are a way to gauge how you’re going before the real thing comes along. So accept it as a challenge and don’t pull your punches!