So you’ve got your HSC assessments and exams coming up in a couple of weeks, and you look at the exam schedule, and you discover you’ve got assessments & exams on consecutive days…

English on Monday, Maths on Tuesday, Physics on Wednesday. Ughh. I’m screwed.

If you’re anything like me, your first instinct probably is to PANIC! And then your second instinct is to PANIC some more!

There’s good news though! We’ve put together the following 7 step by step plan you can follow to make sure you ace your HSC assessments and exams, especially when they are on consecutive days!

Step 1: Shift your mindset and use it to your advantage
Step 2: It’s all about the planning
Step 3: Identify your goal mark for this assessment
Step 4: Write a to do list for each subject
Step 5: Study in reverse
Step 6: Plan the night before your assessment
Step 7: Make a plan for your next assessment 

Step 1: Shift your mindset and use it to your advantage

Everyone is stuck with the same timetable. Lots of HSC assessments and exams squeezed into two weeks.

So, you can either continue to freak out about it, OR you can use it to your advantage.

Everyone else will be struggling with this as well, so IMAGINE if you could get confident, get a plan and smash these assessments?

How much better are you going to do then your peers? And how much will your rank improve?

LOTS!

So it’s key you shift your mindset, and think about how you can use the intense exam/assessment schedule you have to your advantage to improve your results, and your ranks!

Action Point:
  • Shift your mindset and view having multiple HSC assessments and exams on consecutive days as a secret advantage you can use to boost your ranks!

Step 2: It’s all about the planning

Plan well and you’ll kick ass in these HSC assessments and exams.

If you don’t have a plan…It will be stressful and painful. 

You need to have a plan and it doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, simple plans are the best.

To help you make your plan, we’ve put together a step by step plan that you can use to make sure you ace your exams on consecutive days.

Screenshot 2016-05-30 09.10.23

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So, download this PDF we’ve put together for you now, print it out, and start filling it in as you read the rest of this article!

Action Point:
  • You need to have a plan! Failing to plan, is definitely planning to fail when you have exams/assessments on consecutive days!
  • Download our step by step study plan you can use to plan your own study!

Step 3: Identify your goal mark for this assessment

The first step in creating your plan for to ace your multiple assessments is to identify what goal marks you need to achieve in each exam/assessment for each subject.

Why?

Well if you don’t know the specific mark you’re aiming for how do you know how much study and work you need to do to prepare?

So, you need do you work out what your goal mark is for each subject for this exam/assessment so you know the degree of work you need to do BUT how do you do this?

Do you just make the number up? 85% sounds good right? Maybe 90%?

The best way to identify your goal mark is to work backwards from your goal ATAR, because ultimately, this is what everything is leading towards. Also, it means you know exactly what you need to do in each assessment and exam to give you the best shot of scoring your goal ATAR.

Do you know what marks you need to score in your HSC to achieve your goal ATAR?

To find out the answer, all you need to use is a Reverse ATAR calculator.

What’s a Reverse ATAR Calculator?

So, it’s not the ‘ATAR Calculator’ where you put in your subjects, current marks and it spits out an estimated ATAR (which is always 10 points lower than you’d like!)

A Reverse ATAR Calculator does the opposite. You put in your goal ATAR, your current subjects, and it tells you what marks you need to score in each subject to score your goal ATAR!

Pretty neat right?

If you’re looking for some help on how to use a reverse ATAR calculator, check out our article on it here!

Once you’ve calculated your overall goal marks you need to achieve to score your goal ATAR, write down these marks as your goal marks for your next assessment.

But what if you’ve been scoring lower than these goals marks so far?

It does mean that your goal mark you need to achieve in your upcoming HSC assessment may in fact be higher, so it pulls your overall marks up to your goal mark.

How can you work this out?

You’ve got two options where you’ll need to do a bit of Maths to calculate this – you can either:

OPTION 1: If the Maths is a little too overwhelming, just write down the goal mark the Reverse ATAR calculator has calculated that you need to achieve overall as your goal mark for this upcoming assessment/exam and skip the following and go straight to Step 4

OPTION 2: If you want to get more specific on exactly what mark you need to achieve in your next assessment/exam – use the following example & Maths to calculate your mark!

Here’s an example to help you!

Let’s say your goal mark for HSC English to get your goal ATAR is 87% and you’ve already had 2 assessments for English:

  • HSC Assessment #1: You scored 22/30 and it was worth 15%
  • HSC Assessment #2: You scored 16/20 and it was worth 10%

But you need to convert these marks in each assessment into a mark out of the weighting they are worth:

  • HSC Assessment #1: You scored 22/30 = 73% x 15 (weighting value) = 11 marks out of 15
  • HSC Assessment #2: You scored 16/20 = 80% x 10 (weighting value) = 8 marks out of 10

HSC Assessment #1 + 2 = 19/25 = 76%

So at the moment, you’re sitting on 76% and your goal is 87%.

Now, your internal mark is only worth 50% of your total HSC mark, so you need to factor this in by dividing this by 2 to work out the total marks still available to you:

  • HSC Assessment #1 + 2 = 19/25 
  • 19/25 divided by 2 = 9.5/12.5

So so far you’ve only had 12.5% of your total HSC assessments (and you’ve scored 9.5 marks – so you’re actually doing pretty well!) This means you still have the following marks available:

  • 100 total marks for HSC  – 12.5 assessment marks you’ve sat for already = 87.5 total remaining assessment marks available

Your goal mark is 87 and you’ve already scored 9.5 marks towards this goal = 77.5 marks you need to achieve out of the remaining 87.5 marks available to score your goal mark of 87.

77.5 out of 87.5 marks = 88.5% goal mark you need to achieve in you future HSC assessments and exams to score your goal overall HSC mark to achieve your goal ATAR.

Make sense?

Right down this goal mark for each subject at the top of your study plan.

But what if the goal mark is > 100%?

What this means is that yes, technically, to bring your average mark up to your goal mark, you need to score > 100% in all future exams and assessments, which sounds impossible right.

BUT there is good news in this situation.

While this exercise helps you get more specific in identifying exactly what you need to achieve in your exams to score your goal ATAR, it doesn’t factor in scaling.

All your internal marks get scaled based on your rank. So, you could be scoring 70% internally, and it gets scaled to 90% because you ranked in the Top 5-10 and your school performed well as a cohort in the HSC exams.

The hard part however is that you can’t predict scaling due to the variable of your rank, and how your school performs.

As a result, generally you don’t want to rely on scaling kicking in, which is why this exercise is powerful as it gives you a scaled mark to aim for as your raw mark which places everything in your control!

If however the goal mark is > 100%, it will indicate to you that you need to do your BEST in your exams (you’ve got to work hard and put everything on the line to lift your results), and then wait for your ranking and school performance in the HSC to scale up your internal marks to help you achieve your goal ATAR. 

So if the goal mark is > 100%, your focus needs to be on maxing your marks in an attempt to bring your rank up as high as possible!

Action Point:
  • Calculate your goal marks by inputting your goal ATAR and subjects into a Reverse ATAR Calculator
  • Work out what specific marks you need to achieve in your upcoming exam/assessment
  • Write down this goal mark at the top of your study plan so you know exactly what mark you’re working towards in your study for this upcoming exam/assessment

Step 4: Write a to do list for each subject

Now that you’ve got your goal for what you need to achieve in your upcoming HSC assessment or exam, what you need to do, is identify all the things you need to do that will help (and guarantee you) getting this mark!

Download our study planner (if you haven’t already) and take 3 minutes (set a timer on your phone or watch) and write to do list for each subject for what you believe you need to do to guarantee you getting your goal mark.

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Need inspiration to identify what you actions you should be doing for each subject? We’ve put together 7 day study plans for specific subjects which you can use to guide the list of actions you write down in your own to do list!

Once you’ve written your study to-do list for each subject, stick it up on your wall where you can see it.

The idea behind this is that it’s a clear visual of all that you need to do and you want it to be IN YOUR FACE so you don’t forget and get lazy or distracted. It’s there to keep you accountable! 

Every time you complete something, cross it out with a HUGE FAT RED MARKER! This way you get clear way to track your progress towards preparing for your next assessment/exam!

Action Point:
  • Write a to-do list for each subject
  • Put it up on the wall where you can see it – it needs to be in your face to keep you accountable!
  • As you complete an action, cross it off with a big red marker to show your progress

Step 5: Study in reverse

Now that you know what you need to do for each subject, you’ve got to work out what subject to study when!

Most of the time, the typical structure is that you start studying for your first exam/assessment first.

What happens when you study in chronological order for your exams?

You start studying for your first exam first, and get lots of study done for it. But then you run out of time to do as much study for your 2nd, 3rd, 4th (etc) assessments and exams.

And because they are all on consecutive days, what ends up happening is you spend late nights cramming massively to try and get study done for your 2nd, 3rd and 4th exams.

The result?

Your marks look like this:

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So what’s the solution?

Study in Reverse!

Start studying for your last exam first, your 2nd last exam 2nd, your 3rd last exam 3rd etc.

Why?

This way you study for your last exam first, so that when you get to it during the exam/assessment week, you’re not looking at it for the first time and needing to cram like crazy. You’ve already covered it and feel confident with it, so all you need to do is some last minute revision.

It also means that in the immediate 3-4 days before your first exam, you are studying for your first exam – so it’s most fresh in your mind.

Overall the result is that it enables you to study more effectively for your exams and assessments when you have them on consecutive days, and in turn allows you to score higher marks across ALL your exams!

How can you apply this?

Get your exam schedule out and get out a calendar.

We’ve put together a 2 week calendar in our downloadable study plan for preparing for exams/assessments on consecutive days which you can download (if you haven’t already)

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Now, looking at your LAST EXAM, schedule in study for this exam first and write it down on your calendar/study plan.

And then for your 2nd last exam, second and so on.

Generally, only schedule to study for 1-2 subject max per day. Why? This way you’re allocating sufficient time for each subject to go deep and get into a good state of study ‘flow’!

Now that you’ve got your daily study schedule IN REVERSE, stick it up on the wall where you can see it – you’ll be using this + combined with your subject to do list to study and prepare for your exams.

Each day when you come home from school, look at your calendar schedule and identify which subject(s) you’re going to be working on.

Sit down, and based on the subject on your calendar, look at your subject to do list, and pick the next item on the list and get down to work!

This way, you’re not coming home from school each day, and spending 1.5 hours procrastinating just trying to work out what to study!

Action Point:
  • Schedule your study in reverse
  • Get our your exam/assessment schedule and on a calendar map out which subject you will on which day in reverse order
  • Only schedule in 1-2 subjects max per day
  • Stick it up where you can see it
  • Each day when you come home look at your calendar to identify your subject
  • Look at your subject to do list to then identify the next action you need to take for your study 

Step 6: Plan the night before your assessment

So, you’ve been following your study plan, studying in reverse, and working through your subject to-do list and it’s now the night before your first exam/assessment.

What do you do?

Focus 100% on the exam the next day.

Your goal for the night before is to make sure you that you know:
  1. Every syllabus dot point that will be examined the next day inside out
  2. All the common and likely exam questions you could be asked
  3. How to write top quality answers, responses and essays to all the common questions you could be asked 
  4. Exactly how you will be using your time in the exam/assessment the next day

The specifics of what you do will depend on the subject and the nature of the assessment – but you will need to make sure you’ve achieved all 4 of the goals above!

A good general structure to follow the day and night before your assessment is the following:

Firstly, go through your study notes and re-write out key points in dot point format. 

Then, get out a past exam paper, or a common/likely question they may ask you in the exam the next day and complete it open book, dot point format (this idea is to do this lightening fast). 

Identify in a quick list the areas of the content you struggled with when answering practice questions and needed to use your notes. 

Try teaching someone (even yourself in a mirror or your dog) the content in this hit list of weak areas. 

Practice writing and refining your answers to these questions on your hit list of weak areas. 

Finally, based on the length of time you will have for your exam/assessment the next day, write down how you will allocate/apportion time for different parts of the paper so you don’t run out of time. 

To help you, we’ve put together the following articles for how to study for a specific subject the night before your assessment:

Whatever you do, don’t spend the night cramming late, or into the early hours of the morning!

Why?

Studies reveal that losing a mere 90 minutes of sleep will reduce your daytime alertness and focus by a staggering one-third!

90 minutes of lost sleep = 33% reduction in your daytime alertness and focus

If you’ve got exams and assessments on consecutive days, this sleep debt will build up! So while it may be tempting the night before to get some extra study done, it will cost you not only the next day for your exam, but in the following days for your other exams & assessments!

So, get to sleep early! 

In our research with 98+ ATAR scorers over the last decade, we have discovered that they went to sleep between 10-11pm (consistently during the year AND on nights before exams and assessments).

Action Point:
  • Focus 100% on the exam or assessment on the following day
  • Focus on knowing the syllabus back to front, being able to answer common & potential questions and how you will structure your time in the exam
  • Re-write out key points of all relevant syllabus dot points, respond to practice questions open book and teach someone your weak areas
  • Get to sleep early, by 10-11pm to avoid a 33% reduction in your focus & alertness the next day!

Step 7: Make a plan for your next assessment 

So you’ve now had your first exam and you’ve walked out of the exam, relieved it’s over, exhausted from pouring so much energy into the exam, and stressed because you’ve now got to back it up and do it ALL AGAIN TOMORROW for your next assessment!

What do you do?

Firstly, it’s critical you take a moment to recover and replenish your energy levels after your first exam.

So while you might be tempted (due to panicking) to jump straight into more study, take AT LEAST 30 minutes when you return home to do something that you love – something where all the time around you just disappears and you get into the zone.

This could be:
  • Going for a run
  • Having a quick gym workout
  • Listening to your favourite artist
  • Playing a quick round of your favourite video game
  • Cooking your favourite food
  • Talking with your best friend or family

Importantly, given you do have a HSC assessment the next day, you need to put a STRICT TIMER on for 30 minutes! 

The point of this break is to give you enough time to re-energise so you can hit study and be 100% productive and focused!

While the 30 minutes may seem indulgent, it will make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in your energy levels and ability to focus and start studying for your HSC assessment the next day!

Secondly, you need to have a plan for your exam period!

In preparing for your 2nd exam (and 3rd, 4th and so on), the key (once again) is that it’s all about having a plan of attack. With a plan, you can refocus your energies from panicking, to being productive!

What should your plan look like?

For your assessment and exam period, you need to have a plan that identifies on each day what subject you are studying for, and what you will be doing.

You want to have this written up on your wall so when you come home after your first assessment, and you’ve had your 30 minute recharge period, you can sit down, look at your wall and have a clear set of actions you can follow for your study to prepare for your HSC assessment the next day!

Plan what subject you will studying on each day during your exam period

So get your calendar out and in addition to Step 5 (planning for the 2 weeks prior to your exam), map out based on your HSC assessment & exam schedule, what subjects you are studying on each day.

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Write your Day Before the Assessment To Do List

Once you’ve done this, using Step 6 above, for each subject, write down your ‘DAY BEFORE THE ASSESSMENT STUDY TO-DO LIST’ which is the list of study actions you will take the day before your HSC assessment and exam.

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Put this up on a wall.

Now when you come home from finishing one HSC assessment, with another one the next day, you can relax as you’ve already planned exactly what you need to do to ensure you nail the exam the next day!

ALL THE BEST FOR YOUR EXAMS!

Looking for some extra help with your HSC studies?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!


Rowan is the founder of Art of Smart Education, an award winning provider of 1 on 1 tutoring and mentoring. Rowan has spent the last 8 years conducting research with thousands of Australia’s top students who scored ATAR’s of over 98 and is the author of Secrets of HSC Success Revealed. Rowan has 10 years experience in tutoring and delivers workshops across Australia on excelling academically at school. Rowan’s videos on YouTube have been watched more than 1,000,000+ times.