Effective study plan is key

You will perform better on an exam if you spend one hour studying each day for 20 days than if you spend 10 hours studying each day for two days before an exam.

You will perform better on an exam if you spend one hour studying each day for 20 days than if you spend 10 hours studying each day for two days before an exam.

Many students are facing their final year at high school and are starting to get nervous about the increased study load.

Studying for the HSC can be a vigorous process, but with planning and organisation any student can come through with a favorable result. When studying their HSC, students complete school-based assessments as part of their HSC, which together contribute 50% of their final HSC mark for a course (except VET courses). Assessment tasks allow students to show what they know, understand and can do in ways that may not be possible in a written examination. Tasks may include tests, written assignments, practical activities, fieldwork and projects.

A good study plan is the first step in an effective approach to exams. A good plan could save students the stress and worry of cramming the night before. Cornell University in the US has a dedicated learning strategies centre which helps students develop the right study habits and techniques needed to excel.

Here are a few of their tips to create a study plan:

Start Early:

More than any other technique, the key to performing well on exams is starting early and using short, frequent study sessions. The human brain learns academic material faster and better on an exam if done in brief blocks of time spread out over longer periods of time, rather than in an few lengthy sessions. For example, you will perform better on an exam if you spend one hour studying each day for 20 days than if you spend 10 hours studying each day for two days before an exam. So a great way to achieve this, could be to set out an hour each day at time that suits you.

If you have to cram:

If you have left it to the last minute, try to focus on remembering the information you do know rather than trying to teach yourself new information. You will typically not remember what you tried to learn the night before the exam, anyway, so it is best to make sure you really know some part of the information for the test. If you do have a few days, try to spread the studying out so you are not doing it all in one night. 

When you study: 

  • Divide material so you can work on it in chunks. Write your chunks on your study plan.
  • Use active learning strategies (such as summarising and reciting out loud) to study the material.
  • Use self-testing techniques (such as answering past exam questions) to monitor your learning.
  • During each study session, learn a new chapter or chunk of information, and then review previous material. 

You could ask a family member or friend to test you verbally.

An effective study plan is a great place to start.