What works best for each individual student may vary, but a couple of certain approaches which I have found that work include the following:
1. Using others notes to summarise the rote dot points:
This may come as a massive surprise , but there are large sections of both the HSC Chemistry and HSC Physics syllabus which just purely require memorisation and sad thing is, often these types of questions are 4+ marks. These are EASY marks if you have memorised all of the necessary information.
Now, some students find that writing their own notes is a must, but I have found that getting your hands on a couple of sets of good notes (whether it be from friends or from former state-rankers etc..) are just as good for these types of dot points, as they do not require an in-depth understanding, they just require you to spew back some information that the marker wants to hear.
if you have a good teacher or tutor, odds are they will offer to go through your notes, or if you approach them they will not say ‘No.’, but just keep in mind, this is a very busy period for teachers too, particularly if they teach multiple Year 11/12 classes, so get in early and hopefully they can give you some helpful feedback.
2. Practice, practice, practice:
Past Papers. Seriously. Best use of time in my opinion. Past papers ensure not only that you KNOW your science, but you know HOW to answer a science question. These are two COMPLETELY different skills. It is very rare to have students who excel at both. The only way to get better at either of them is to practice, practice, practice.
Most students are aware of their weaker points and it only makes sense to work on these weaker points (under examination conditions and to examination timing) to ensure that you can replicate your understanding under the same conditions come HSC Trial time.
Most students have access to a variety of past papers. Students needs to work through past trial papers so that you get familiar with the layout of the papers, the types of questions asked, the way in which the questions are marked and your need to feel comfortable with your chosen method of approach to the exam.
Remember, GROW YOUR NAILS FOR THE EXAM — this way you can mark your answers on the multiple choice sheet during reading time and save yourself a couple of minutes.
3. Get criticism and feedback
Now, doing past papers is pretty pointless if you do not have someone to critique your answers and offer constructive criticism. Even answers which I would give full marks can still have room for improvement. You need to buddy with a friend or classmate to give you feedback on your answer. The harsher that friend is, the better. You need to be criticised. It is the only way to improve on your areas of weakness.
If you think you are awesome and do not need any improvement, please send me a copy of your answer for a 6-8 mark question and I will be more than happy to point out your lack of awesomeness!
3. PFA’s + Dem Skillllzz:
Please, do not SOLELY familiarise yourself with the Knowledge and Understanding part of the syllabus. Please ensure that you are familiar with the Prescribed Focus Areas, as these are usually where some 4-6 mark questions come from. They are in every single Trial and every single HSC Science examination. Please get familiar with them if you are not already.
Skills – You must also be familiar with all of the skills related outcomes, there are HEAPS of them. A great deal of them you would have covered during your practical task or your secondary source investigation, but they can still be asked in your Trial Examination.
Be aware of all of the subtle little skills dot points that the state ranking notes do not cover.
Do you know the difference between reliability, accuracy, precision, validity and relevance?
Skills are usually where even the brightest students lose their marks, for each set of data there is only ONE line of best fit — make it accurate. Think of the proportionality — are you expecting a straight line or a curve?
You really never know what they are going to target for a question in a given year, so it is your job to address EVERYTHING. A marking scheme for a particular question is only valid for that question in that year — the same question in the following year may have a different marking scheme applied to it — So, you must ensure that you start from the basics and work your way up the Verb pyramid.
Even for an assess question — start off with an identification or description, work your way up to an assessment, so that you earn your marks as you go. Remember, the larger questions are not marked by a ‘check-box’ method, they are marked holistically, so you must show your understanding as your progress through the answer. Show links, show cause and effect, reference terminology in the question so it shows that you are addressing that specific question and if you need to provide a judgement, make it clear!
If you have any type(s) of questions which you feel all subscribers would benefit from me going through, please feel free to email me!