Hi everyone, my name is Hannah. I graduated last year in 2020 and am excited to share my top tips and hacks to completely smash the HSC PDHPE this year! I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Medical Science at USYD, majoring in anatomy and histology. I commend you all for already doing amazingly this year, with all the additional challenges this year has brought along. It truly has been a marathon of the year, and now you’re there at the final sprint – woohoo!!!
How to approach the content
To say that there is a lot of content in PDHPE would be an understatement. My summary was over 150 pages -yikes! It’s very easy to get caught up in purely memorising the content and neglect applying the content to practice questions similar to the ones you’ll get for your final exam. To help climb over the mountain of content, I recommend a method that I like to call the ‘traffic light’ method. All you need to start, is three coloured highlighters and your PDHPE syllabus. Choose a colour to be your ‘I completely understand all this content’ colour, another one for ‘I kind of understand’ and a ‘danger zone’ colour. Then go through the syllabus and highlight each dot point and dash point, according to your level of understanding (see below for an example). Then just dive straight into it! Start revising the ‘danger zone’ topics before moving to the topics that you understand well. This will help break the syllabus up into nice bite-sized chunks and ensure you get as much practice as possible on the topics you struggle with the most.
The powers of mind-maps
For PDHPE, mind-maps are a fantastic way to revise content and help you link different areas of the syllabus together. Instead of just reading over my notes, I used mind-maps to help me memorise the content in a more interactive and stimulating way. It’s been found that mind maps can boost the retention of what you’re learning by 10-15%! Try and fit a syllabus dot point on a single A4 piece of paper. Don’t just re-write your summary in mind-map form, but rather summarise your major summary into smaller sections. Examples should be at the front and centre of your mind-maps. Try and aim to have at least two examples for each ‘stem’ of the mind-map. These mind maps don’t have to look nice; as long as you’re getting to know the content in a way that works for you, that is all that matters.
The syllabus is your best friend
Although they may sometimes be hidden, all the answers lie in the syllabus! The syllabus informs everything you do in PDHPE, whether it be the content you’re learning or how you should structure your answers. I learned the syllabus before I dived into the content because the syllabus lays out the content you need to answer everything. To help learn the syllabus, I recommend using a ‘coded summary’ (see an example below). Remove some of the keywords from your copy of the syllabus, and then test yourself by filling in these blanks. It’s surprising how much you can retain after doing this only once or twice. I recommend doing a coded summary for each critical question before you do your mind map or content learning. Also, don’t forget about the learn-to part of the syllabus, as a lot of the HSC questions are taken directly from this section.
With so much content to learn for PDHPE, it is easy to neglect practice questions. However, practice questions and applying content is single-handedly one of the most crucial study methods you can use for PDHPE and most HSC subjects. Although you won’t get identical questions in the HSC to those you practice, it will help you learn how to apply content to answer questions. Memorising content is one thing but applying the content to answer the questions is a skill that can only be developed through practice. Later on, in these blogs, we’ll go through how to go about answering PDHPE questions. Start off answering the questions with unlimited time before completing entire practice papers under exam conditions. It would help if you did the practise questions under time, so you know what speed you need to write at and how much you may write in an exam. Since the PDHPE syllabus hasn’t been changed for a long time, plenty of practice papers are available for you to use. The NESA website also has a bank of multiple-choice questions that you can use to practice multiple-choice questions. Make sure you mark the questions you complete. Making mistakes is how we learn, so embrace those mistakes! Identifying where you need to improve is an essential step in helping you grow and improve continually.
That’s all from me this week! I hope you all have a productive and rewarding week, but also ensure you have time to rest and recharge. You’ll soon see the reward for all the hard work you’ve put in over the past year.