How to 'survive' your HSC

The best approach you can take is to set your own personal goals and then strive to achieve them

Those inverted commas around the word ‘survive' in the heading are deliberate. There's a lot of hype at the moment about the HSC exams. How crucially important they are and how your entire career path will be determined by your ATAR. In a nutshell, this isn't true.

But the exams are still an important step in your educational journey. And it's also important you give them your very best shot.

With this in mind, here are a couple of tips to help make the journey as smooth as possible. And to help you emerge at the other end still feeling human.


It sounds boring and it sounds obvious, but it's true. Getting a good amount of quality sleep every night is important for a whole swag of things that really matter right now, especially information absorption and memory retention. Aim for at least eight hours every night. And where possible, removing electronic devices from your bedroom is also recommended to help induce quality sleep. That little blue light emitted by your phone, tablet or laptop is not your friend.

Balanced diet

Another one that sounds bleedingly obvious, but which many people tend to overlook at challenging times. If you survive on junk food or other highly processed foods, you're sabotaging your chances of performing at your very best in the exams. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (especially leafy greens) are essential here, as well as oily fish (which is good for brain function), some lean red meat and nuts and legumes. And try to limit the sugary drinks, especially the so-called ‘energy drinks'.

Time management

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when there's heaps to do and not enough time to do it all in. A simple way around this is to actually schedule your study sessions in batches of time. Once you've allotted specific time slots for all of your subjects, you'll feel more in control of the workload. You may even realise that you actually have more available time than you first thought.

Not a competition

Try to avoid comparing yourself to others. Although the HSC has been increasingly framed in highly competitive terms, the bottom line here is that it isn't a competition. Everyone has different needs and aspirations.

It's also worth remembering that, like the Olympic Games, the HSC isn't an equal playing field to begin with. Different students, even students from the same school, can have had vastly different opportunities, resources and circumstances throughout their schooling years. Comparing yourself and your progress to anyone else is only going to invite anxiety.

The best approach you can take is to set your own personal goals and then strive to achieve them.


The HSC probably seems like the biggest thing in the world right now. But you may be surprised at how quickly their importance fades over time. Even one year from now you may find yourself struggling to remember what all the hype was about.

In short, the HSC doesn't determine your career path. You'll probably have several different careers throughout your working life, quite possibly in completely different industries. Education is a life long journey. The HSC is just one pit stop in that journey.

Good luck.