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  • Soha

Study tips & strategies to prioritise mental health

Struggling to find ways to study? Unsure on what types of questions you should focus on? Having trouble keeping a clear mind when studying? You have come to the right spot!

Hey Everyone! Welcome to the first HSC Chemistry blog!

Before we get into today’s insightful blog, let me first tell you guys a little bit about myself.

My name is Soha and I graduated in 2020. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology (honours) at the University of New South Wales. Over the next six weeks I will be sharing a bunch of helpful tricks, tips, and insights into how I was able to achieve a band 6 in Chemistry!

Now, you’re probably wondering what this first blog will be about.

This blog will begin with a handful of awesome studying tips and tricks and finish off with effective methods to maintain good mental health when studying.

Let’s get started!

Studying tips and tricks!

1. Have a ‘mistakes book’. A mistake book is a separate notebook dedicated to your mistakes. Every time you make a mistake in an assessment, homework task or exam, write the mistakes down. This method will prevent you from making the same mistakes again which helps to improve on your marks. Even if the mistake is small, such as using the incorrect formula to calculate enthalpy, write it down!

I would also definitely recommend regularly reviewing your ‘mistakes book’ and attempting questions of a similar nature.

2. Create flashcards for each module. For example, flashcards could cover the following:

· Unit conversions such as converting kilojoules to joules

· Important formulas such as the formula for pH, pOH or pKa (module 6)

· Organic structures such as alkynes, alcohols, and esters (module 7)

· Important features to look for when analysing mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, proton and carbon-13 NMR (module 8)

3. Focus on application-based questions. This includes questions involving calculations such as deriving and calculating the equilibrium constant (module 5) or calculating the unknown concentration of a solution by titration (module 6). This can also include interpreting and analysing proton and carbon-13 NMR, mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy to identify the organic compound (module 8). These types of questions appear very frequently in the HSC paper across both multiple choice and short/long questions.

4. Complete past exam papers. Even though the new syllabus only began recently in 2019, there are multiple topics which overlap with the old syllabus. For example, polymers, titration, and equilibrium have all been tested in the old syllabus. This means once you complete the HSC and trial papers for 2019 and 2020 in timed conditions, you can find heaps of questions from the HSC papers prior to 2019 which overlap with the new syllabus and complete them as well!

How to prioritise your mental health when studying

Research shows that a high level of mental health is often associated with increased learning, creativity, productivity, positive social relationships and improved physical health.

In order to maintain a good mental health, it’s important to do the following:

1. Stay well hydrated and eat healthy meals. You may have heard the saying that “a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.” This is true! Having a healthy, well-balanced diet results in a healthy body and hence a healthy mind. A healthy mind helps to reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase your attention span when studying.

2. Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. I totally understand that you might feel the pressure to stay up until 2 am cramming content or practising questions, but this routine drains your ability to think and function. While, on the other hand, getting enough sleep helps you to rejuvenate and feel restored for the following day. It also helps to improve concentration, decision-making skills and regulating mood which is all essential when studying!

3. Mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga. Mindfulness techniques can help you cope better with difficult thoughts, understand your emotions better, help you feel calmer reducing stress and boosts your attention and concentration. Check out apps like Headspace and 1 Giant Mind. You should definitely give it a go!

4. Take regular breaks. Taking breaks after long periods of studying is important as it helps to improve your overall wellbeing by reducing and preventing stress, increasing your level of energy, and decreasing exhaustion. This means after completing a 3-hour practise exam, it’s very important to take a 30 – 60 minute break where you can rest, eat, or do something you enjoy such as reading a book, exercising, or watching Netflix (definitely what I do during my breaks!).

Quote of the week:

"If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success." - James Cameron

That’s a wrap to my first blog!

In the upcoming weeks there will be more insights into specific HSC Chemistry questions and tips on how to structure your responses to maximise your marks!

Have a great week!

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