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Tips for exam day

The final week is upon us! You have spent over a year preparing for this moment which is a pretty incredible feat! Today, we will be covering what you should do in the final week of preparation and on exam day itself.

The final countdown

In Core 2, we learnt about carbohydrate loading and tapering. This same premise can be used to approach your ‘performance’ (i.e. the HSC exam). The ‘carbohydrate loading’ portion has already been completed with all your hard work in the past few weeks, and now it’s time to taper. Here is a brief ‘game plan’ of what I recommend approaching the final HSC exam.

The week before the HSC exam block begins

Practice papers, practice papers and more practice papers! At this point, you hopefully have the majority of content under control, so it’s important to focus on your exam technique and practice questions to time. This goes for the majority of your subjects.

HSC Exam block begins!

When you enter the exam block, it feels like you have a lot less time to study because you’re sitting exams as well as trying to do last-minute revision for all your subjects. At this point, it is crucial to take a step from doing any intense study or ‘cramming’ for any of your subjects. Sitting 3-hour exams is exhausting, so have a break before jumping into any study for your upcoming subjects.

4-5 days before the exam

Continue doing a few practice questions here and there for the areas you struggle with the most. Ensure that you know the syllabus dot points (by using coded summaries) and that you ask your teachers any last-minute clarifications.

3 days before the exam

Your focus may be on smashing through other subjects. At this point, in relation to PDHPE, try to move away from answering any new questions but instead read through exemplar responses and responses that you have already answered.

2 days before

Brush up on any specific content areas that you may be struggling with. Ensure that any problem content areas are resolved, and you have a solid idea of what examples you could use for different syllabus areas.

The day before

The day before is by far the most nerve-wracking day of all. At this point, it is crucial not to overwhelm yourself with any last-minute cramming or revising. Continue to look over the content to make sure it is all fresh in your memory. Try not to do any new revision questions, as this may be overwhelming if you become stuck on a question. Try not to discuss anything with your peers or read any PDHPE group chats that you may be on. This may cause additional stress or worry about the exam, so just stick to your revision.

The night before

It’s hard to completely ‘switch off the night before an exam. It will always feel like you should be doing more or continually studying. I would recommend just doing a few sets of multiple-choice questions to get yourself in the PDHPE mindset without doing any study that is too strenuous. Then get some rest! Try not to stay up all night studying or worrying about the exam. Stop studying at least an hour before you go to bed to help try to calm your nerves and centre your thinking before the exam.

The morning of

Have a nutritious breakfast. Get to school nice and early to ensure you have enough time to check in to your exam. If you prefer being on your own before an exam, sit in a quiet place away from your peer, listen to some music, chill out and get in the zone. If you prefer being around people before entering the exam, try not to discuss any exam-related topics with your friends or teachers. There is no point in stressing yourself out right before you enter the exam.

In the exam

Before beginning some exams, I had to sit at my desk for over 15 minutes before reading time started. This can be extremely scary! Try to do some deep-breathing exercises or centring exercises to get yourself relatively calm. It’s completely normal to feel nervous, but you just want to make sure you can get your nerves relatively under control so you can channel the energy into your exam and avoid having a ‘brain freeze’ once you begin the exam. Take your time when beginning the exam. It takes a few minutes to get into the rhythm of answering questions. If you get to a question where you just have no idea, that’s okay! Read the question, try and answer as much as you come and then come back to it. Whilst your answering other questions, it’ll be sitting there in the back of your mind and you may surprise yourself by being able to answer it when you return to it. Whatever you do, just don’t leave any questions blank.

After the exam

Woohooooo!!!!! You’re done and will experience one of the greatest feelings in the world! Try and avoid discussing what was in the exam or how you feel you did with your peers, since what’s done is done. What you just did was incredible, so celebrate the success of completing the exam and be nothing but proud.

All that I have to say now is good luck to you all. You have worked incredibly hard over the past year, and I’m sure your ongoing dedication and strength will pay off!

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