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Preparing for the Physics HSC Exam

Helloo, Lucas here. 😊

My goal over the next few weeks is to guide you through how I would study for a Physics HSC exam, and hopefully provide you with some confidence and reassurance that you will do great. If you end up taking away even something small, or a nice trick here and there, then I see that as an absolute win. So, let’s jump into it!

Putting things into Perspective

When I was in Year 12, I felt pretty demotivated around Term 2. Going into Term 3, and especially after trials, I honestly could not bring myself to do another multi-choice on projectile motion, or a written response to the structure of the atom, or review a prac to find limitations and errors. If are feeling, or have felt the same way – fair enough! I empathise completely, so it’s important to get an idea of the bigger picture.

Firstly, try end enjoy the content, and I know this will sound weird, but despite the pressure of being a high-scaling subject, some concepts will stick with you for life (or maybe some handy trivia one day).

Secondly, remember that regardless of how things have gone to date, you still have 50% of your marks ahead of you! Whatever your results, a big push now, will make it all worth it. If you get a Band 4, imagine what you would have gotten without putting in that effort. If you get a Band 6, then your hard work has paid off, and you can forget about doing Year 12 Physics ever again! (unless you do it for uni 😊).

Practice Does Not Make Perfect

Yes yes, I know. “Practice makes perfect” is fool proof and it always works! No. If you ‘practice’ by doing a few past papers, maybe a few answers are wrong and maybe some are correct, and you proceed to sit your Physics exam and walk off into the sunset, chances are you haven’t improved! It depends how you define practice.

Perfect practice, makes perfect.

The best advice I can give you is this: whenever you get something wrong in a past paper or some practice question, write it down somewhere. Do the following:

1. List the Paper, Question and Topic

2. Write down why you did not get full marks

3. Understand what you would have needed to write/do, to get full marks

4. Repeat

When it comes to studying in the weeks before the HSC Physics exam, take a look at this list you’ve made. This is your own set of study notes! Everything you’ve got wrong, every mistake you’ve made, every chance where you can improve, is here! This is an absolutely bulletproof method, and I used it in Year 12. Give it a go yourself and find out.

Break it Down

There are a few paths you can take when it comes to preparing for the exam. Depending on how much effort you want to put in, finding a study method that suits you is important.


Finalise your Physics notes. The biggest trap that one can fall into is neglecting to study Physics because it’s “so far away”. So, get it done early! Work backwards – finalise your notes for your last exam, first. English should be the last thing you prepare for. Physics, should be one of the first.


Do some practice papers. Wrap your head around the style, the questions, the mindset. Use the method listed above, to practice perfectly. As you near the Physics exam itself, tune up. If you’re feeling demotivated, I always told myself that this would be the last time I would have to do Lenz’s Law ever, or draw a fake plum pudding... yay...


Rest. Seriously, take it easy. Cramming will not help. If you’re nervous or feel like you need to know more stuff, then read over your notes quietly. Do a few multi-choice questions to boost your confidence. There’s no point in stressing yourself out – the preparation should have come before. Now, it’s just about staying calm.


Over the next four articles, I’ll try and break down how I would prepare for each module.

The fifth and final article will focus on strategies within the Physics exam itself (tactics for multi-choice, short answer, and long answer questions).

If you have questions, ask; if you are unsure, research; and if you feel unprepared, practice.

Best of luck in these coming weeks – we’re almost there.


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