Chapter 5: Ready, study, go

Go the NESA website for a full list of equipment allowed in HSC exams.

Be familiar with question types

The nature, format or emphasis of questions will change each year, but there are question types that will always make an appearance. Here are some tips on how to deal with different types of questions.

1. Multiple-choice questions

Read all the alternatives first and then choose the best overall answer.

Don't trip up.

2. Questions with stimulus material

    Stimulus material – artwork, quotations or maps – provide a focus for analysis or interpretation. The stimulus is critical to providing a strong answer, so consider it carefully.

    3. Short answer questions

    The space provided and marks allocated to a short answer question will give you an idea of how long your response should be. The cover of the HSC exam paper will also have advice on how much time to allow.

    4. Extended exam responses

    Your responses should be carefully planned rather than include everything you know about a topic. Here are some quick tips to help you write a strong extended response:

    The HSC is meant to challenge your abilities. If you have trouble understanding a question, look for key words and work out how they relate to the course. Then you can write an answer from relevant knowledge, understanding and skills.

    Maths teacher and online sensation Eddie Woo.

    Maths teacher and online sensation Eddie Woo.Credit:Janie Barrett

    Studying more effectively

    Most students' study routine consists of taking notes or rereading text. But these methods don't necessarily improve your understanding of a topic or show you how to link concepts.

    There are other, more effective ways of learning, such as the refinement cycle. Maths teacher Eddie Woo explains how this technique can help improve your study routine.

    The refinement process

    Refinement process.

    Refinement process.Credit:NESA

    Refinement process.

    Refinement process.Credit:NESA

    Other effective study techniques

    Spaced practice

    Studying in small chunks over a longer period of time helps you retain information.

    Mr Woo recommends a regular, structured revision program that starts long before the exam period.

    "Intense learning [cramming] can't replace long-term learning. Structured study that starts early in the [HSC] year … allows concepts to be deeply woven into our brains," he explains.

    Retrieval practice

    Test yourself by trying to recall information without support materials. This changes the way the information is stored in your brain, which makes retrieving it easier.

    Try taking a blank sheet of paper and writing or sketching as much as possible from memory. Flashcards are another useful tool.


    Metacognition is being aware of and understanding your own thought processes.

    If you analyse how you think, you will be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses in your thought process and make improvements.

    It is therefore important to be reflective during all stages of learning and studying. Ask yourself:

    Create a study schedule

    An example of a well-balanced study schedule, provided by an English teacher.

    Top study tips from students and teachers

    2019 First in Course students and teachers from the Best in Class Teaching Unit offer their top study tips.

    "Break down your notes into dot points and make sure you address all the topics in the syllabus. If you understand the syllabus, you will be ready for the HSC." - Natalie, 2019 HSC student

    "Collaborate with your classmates – that external insight is key to improving weaknesses in your preparation." - Mairead, 2019 HSC student

    Mairead Stone was first in last year's Ancient History course.

    Mairead Stone was first in last year's Ancient History course.Credit:James Brickwood

    "Treat this year like you are an athlete preparing for the Olympics. Build memory muscle and stamina for study by increasing cognitive load in chunks, not all at once. It's important to factor in relaxation time and other menial tasks to allow the subconscious to do its work after revision/study blocks." – English teacher and member of the Best in Class unit

    Get regular feedback from teachers and peers. Ask questions like:

    Exam tips from a Visual Arts teacher

    Section I

    Section II

    Mind maps

    Mind maps can help you organise, visualise and summarise information.

    Mind maps can be handy.

    Mind maps can be handy.Credit:Made using Canva

    1. Start with the centre of your mind map

    Write down the topic you want to study and circle it.

    2. Branch out

    Draw branches radiating out from the central image. Each branch leads to an idea related to the central topic.

    3. Expand the mind map

    Draw additional branches that extend from your main branches. These are sub-topics of the words you wrote on your main branches. Keep expanding the mind map outwards with more sub-topics or keywords.

    Five steps to success.

    Five steps to success.Credit:NESA

    The HSC journey

    The lead up to HSC exams can be a blur. Follow this path to make the ride as smooth as possible.

    Study myths debunked

    Four members of the recently appointed Best in Class Teaching Unit debunk common study myths.

    "You need to memorise and regurgitate information that the teacher has discussed in class."

    This is not an effective way of studying. It limits your capacity to think and learn. Regular and structured revision is far more effective in helping you retain information.

    "Sharing my work with others will mean I'll lose any competitive advantage."

    Sharing of knowledge improves your understanding of ideas and concepts by challenging preconceptions and shedding light on issues that you may not have thought of.

    "Cramming is a good study technique."

    A regular and consistent pace of study is the key to long-term learning.

    "There is only one right answer"

    There can be more than one correct answer and more than one way of coming to insights.

    Chapter 6: Take the test with these online sample questions

    Football news:

    Ødegård prematurely returned to the real world of rental Sociedade
    Arsenal and Roma are discussing the exchange of Torreira for diavar
    The trained bear was brought to the dressing room of the Sakhalin Resident
    De Ligt had shoulder surgery and will miss 3 months
    Modibo – infected with coronavirus Barcelona player. The disease passes without symptoms
    Lichtsteiner finished his career. The former Juve and Arsenal defender is 36 years old
    Matuidi left Juventus. The midfielder will move to Inter Miami Beckham