How to ‘Fly!’ through the HSC

Students will sit their HSC exams later in the year. Stock Photo.
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The buzzword of ‘COVID-19‘ has undoubtedly made its mark in human history. With social distancing regulations and tightening of national borders, it’s arguable that we’re living a mirrored reality of the 2011 Blockbuster movie, ‘Contagion’.

Yet amid the pandemic, there remains an epidemic of some 60,000 students across NSW facing one of the greatest challenges of their lives in unprecedented circumstances.

The Higher School Certificate.

While generally glorified in media by academic achievement, the significance of resilience in surpassing its challenges is oftentimes undermined.

It was only a mere six months ago when I found myself at a desk slaying the beast of the HSC. I lived a cyclical reality of stress that often seemed more resilient than my own self. Failure was taught to be tangential to success, not inherent to success. The standardised mindset didn’t do me well and it sure as hell did not give me any control.

One book, ‘Fly! Life Lessons from the Cockpit of QF32’, written by world-renowned Qantas pilot Richard de Crespigny, completely transformed my view on the HSC, revealing that the greatest secret of success is embedded in the active practice of resilience.

Through analysis of the human brain and contemporary examples, I came to understand that resilience is far more than ‘overcoming adversity’, it’s an active mindset made up of eight elements that everyone can strive to hone through their lifetime.

Now more than ever before, building a resilience oriented mindset is vital. Having completed my HSC, these 8 strategies will help you develop a sense of control and direction amid the novel uncertainties of our current reality.

Knowledge; ‘Knowledge is knowing what you don’t know’ 

Having the ability to identify areas of weakness is key in optimising growth and learning. Always challenge yourself to imagine the unimaginable…

Training; ‘Practice makes habits and intuition’

Anders Erricson proposed in 1998 that expert performance is reached after 10,000 of practice and by the HSC, every Year 12 student would have spent at least 13,000 hours at school. However, to become an expert in the HSC, you must actively engage in deliberate practice that targets specific areas of weakness, not just write notes or complete standard questions. By balancing mundane with challenging study, you can build habits to conquer simple questions and intuition to take on the unforeseen.

Experience; ‘Experience can be a curse’

While experience is desirable, creativity is invaluable. Strive to actively engage with content and delve deeper. Research further than the scope of the syllabus, build tangible models and ask questions that begin with ‘what if?’. It’s not just an exam, it’s the start of a lifelong learning journey!

Teamwork; ‘No matter who you are, your resilience depends upon your ability to form effective teams’

Social distancing is not an excuse! Irrespective of whether you suffide in friends or not, you are a team member in the graduate cohort of your educational institution. If you all work together, you’ll bring each other’s ranks and performances up. Social interactions boost wellbeing, reduce stress and keep you working towards your personal best. Text, ZOOM, create a collaborative google doc where you share your learning goals and plans with others. Motivate and keep each other accountable for commitments to learning.

Leadership; ‘The leader is the culture’ 

School captain or not, you are the leader of your learning. What learning culture will you set for the HSC?

‘Invert the logic’ of learning, take initiative and be proactive. If you can’t ask a question directly, email or post it in a forum (ATAR notes, Chegg).

Crisis Management; ‘Accept your reality, look ahead and fight the enemy in front’ 

Own it! This is your HSC. Make it worth it, make it count and be proud of it. Over 60,000 students are going through the exact same crisis as you so take advantage of it.

Decision Making; ‘When time is critical don’t be paralysed into indecision’

Make plans and commit to them. Plans minimise distractions, help you self regulate instead of procrastinate and builds a sense of satisfaction when goals are reached.

Risk; ‘… fail fast, learn quickly and move on’ 

Failing is the first step in learning. Assessment and class tasks are opportunities to learn from mistakes before the final exam. Give your personal best and when things don’t work out, don’t be afraid to try again, be empowered!

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