The HSC is a stressful time — there’s no doubt about it. Although it can be really difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s important you try to keep your head up, because aside from your academic capabilities; confidence is key to acing the HSC!
We’ve talked to Jyoti Sharma, teacher, Head Teacher for Teaching and Learning, and Career Advisor at a high school. Jyoti has a lot of experience teaching, advising and working with senior high school students, and is sharing ways that you can boost your confidence and make the best of your final high school year.
Keep reading to find out why confidence is important throughout the HSC and how you can improve your confidence!
How does stress impact students and their confidence during the HSC?
Like we mentioned earlier, the HSC is stressful, and we often place a lot of pressure on ourselves. But we can also receive a lot of pressure externally — whether that be from parents, job prospects, or the entry requirements for a university.
“The fact that HSC is driving students and leading them to tertiary education — students start to think that is the be-all and end-all of life. Students end up thinking more than they’re working, and setting unrealistic goals for themselves,” Jyoti said.
So with all these added pressures, stress goes up… and confidence goes down. We can start to doubt ourselves, our abilities and our motives. “Confidence is a major factor… It starts with studying for subjects, but once they know that it contributes to their final mark — that’s when the confidence often breaks,” Jyoti noted.
Of course, completing assessment tasks and knowing ‘this is going to be part of my HSC mark’ can make the whole process daunting. So it’s a matter of taking it one step at a time.
Your mark will be whatever it becomes, so long as you just focus on the task at hand and complete it to the best of your ability. Don’t cloud your judgement and mindset with a mark — focus on the task.
Jyoti said, “It’s a cyclical thing — if they don’t have the confidence they won’t perform well. When they don’t perform well, they don’t see the results come out how they’ve expected. It leaves them in a phase where they can’t lift themselves out of it, so that’s why confidence is required.”
Essentially, if you can look at an assessment task in the most positive light possible, and eliminate any pressures surrounding you, you’ll often perform better because you’re relaxed and confident in your own ability.
Should we be comparing marks and ranks?
A big change most students have to face when transitioning from Year 10 to Year 11, is being ranked in their subjects. Although ranks are a useful tool in helping you gauge where you’re at in your cohort, it can also have a lot of negative ramifications on your confidence.
Jyoti said, “Ranking as a positive measure of ability, to push you to work harder, is a good thing, but ranks should not be considered as the end of it all. If anything, it should make you think, ‘how can I progress to the next level?’
“In life, there’s always going to be someone at the top and at the bottom. Ranks will always be there, even in the workforce there will be hierarchies. So in a way it prepares students for life after school.”
So don’t let your ranks knock you down! Flip your perception of ranks to something that encourages you to improve, and beat your previous rank.
One of the focal points in trying to improve your confidence is overcoming fears of failing or making mistakes. Now we could just say ‘you learn from your mistakes’ which is true… but that’s easier said than done.
Jyoti mentioned support networks as a really effective way of overcoming fears of mistakes and failure. Having people around you that you can trust and talk to, whether that be friends, siblings, or parents, is a great way to hear your thoughts out loud and regain your confidence.
Being able to talk about pressures and concerns is important, not only for your mental health, but in figuring yourself out. Making sure that you don’t bottle up in your own thoughts and understand your tasks at hand, will help you clear your mind and feel more confident about yourself.
How to Improve Your Mindset
The growth mindset is a new frame of thought developed by Psychologist Carol Dweck, wherein we are capable of infinite growth! You can learn more about Dweck’s growth mindset here.
“Rigid thinking leads to more stress which leads to loss of confidence and anxiety. If you believe in flexibility, it leads to more positive thoughts and actions… there’s always opportunity for growth and that starts in the mind,” Jyoti explained.
With the growth mindset you accept the fact that you can continually grow and improve one step at a time. Once you achieve the first step you’re filled with a sense of accomplishment, which gives you the confidence to take the next step to grow!
5 Key Principles
Jyoti’s 5 key principles and concepts that she likes to focus on with her students are:
- Open-mindedness and curiosity
- Small steps at a time
- Looking at the bigger picture
- Seeking feedback
It’s important to focus on more than your academic self during the HSC and that’s where confidence comes in. Having the confidence to progress forwards, try new study techniques, take on advice, and gain perspective, are all great ways to improve your outlook!
So when it comes to the HSC and Year 12, expect some hard days, stress and a lack of motivation. But know that “there’s more to life than just a number!” As Jyoti said, “At every stage, keep thinking positively and be resilient in your personal growth.”
Talk to your friends and family, and try to pull yourself out of any slumps or obstacles that cross your path this year.
Remember that stress and a lack of motivation leads to poor confidence. Whereas, having a support network that you can talk to, and a growth mindset, you’ll be able to boost your confidence to perform to the best of your ability in the HSC!
Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.