Studying Over the Summer Holidays | Top Marks QA #4


Hi, Tim Mason here from Top Marks Education. The fourth episode of Top Marks QA is on how to plan your summer study for the HSC. So, I’m actually in Kyoto, Japan right now and I’m on my own holiday. But I have taken a bit of time out to give you the tips that you’re going to need to maximize the use of this really effective time that you have here. You’ve got about two months almost to make the most of and the half-yearlies come up really early in next term. They’re going to come up in week six so getting on top of what you’re doing and getting a little bit of a head start on what’s going to come up is actually going to be really important for you.

So, the very first thing that we need to do in our summer study is make a detailed plan and there are two components to that: The first, is to plan what actually needs to be studied so we need to look at what topics you aren’t quite as good at, the gaps that you have that you need to fill in. Everything, of course, needs general revision and then maybe you want to actually look ahead at 2016 term one. The second part of your plan is how much time do you actually have and that’s going to consist of looking at the general week in your holiday and then basically deciding how much time you’re going to be able to put to study on each day. There’s a few things that are important we do here. The first is to be realistic because you are on holiday, you are going to have fun, Star Wars is coming out in a couple of weeks and you are going to watch that so you have to plan that into your time. But you do also want to study. So, don’t plan to study 15 hours a day because you’re just not going to do that. Think what you’re actually going to do. The other thing is that you actually aren’t always going to be able to stick to it, so leave some time that you can improvise. Some mates are going to say, ‘do you want to go out today?’, you’re going to have some study planned, but you’ll say actually “yes I can do that” and move that study to another day that you already have planned. That’s really important.

The really important thing about this plan is, “a” it will make your study more efficient and you make sure you get everything done but, “b” it’s actually important even if you don’t manage to stick to it. Sticking to it is good but it’s not essential because if you failed to stick to it then at least you know. Then you can make one of two decisions; either you’ll just need to study more through the rest of the holidays and actually fix your plan but the other thing that you might do is just cut out some topics. You might say actually that topic is not as important, I’m not going to have time and then focus on the really difficult stuff and so that’s why that’s so important.

What you do once to get your plan is two things; you print out the actual plan of what you’re studying on what day and you print out a matrix of what needs studying and covering. That’s more to just satisfy yourself because you can just tick off things as you’re doing them and feel it like you’re making progress.

So, in terms of what we actually need to study, well the very first thing as I said was filling in gaps. You need to decide on the topics that you’re not as good at and actually go back, look at the content, read the notes you had in class and your textbook and get on top of it. And once you’ve done that, you’re going to want to make summary notes. That means that you want to have concise but also specific and detailed notes on each dot point from the syllabus that go through exactly what you need to know and nothing more. That’s going to be really important not just for your later study but also in actually helping you synthesize information and really understand it. The other thing that you want to do is past papers because past papers are going to help identify which areas you thought you might have known really well but don’t quite know that well. Once you do that, you can go back and you can study them and that got highlights what actually needs further work for the study. And then finally once you’ve done that and once you’ve mastered those topics, then you can go back to your summary notes and revise them. You want to make them more concise, you want to make them more specific and more detailed so that, “a” later on, you’ll have these really, really effective notes that you can read that have everything you need to know but “b” that process of revising and fixing and getting into the very heart of the detailed information can be really important for your understanding. If you can understand something really well, you can express it concisely.

So, have a great holiday. I really hope you enjoy it but I also hope that you get a lot done and you make the most of this really important period that you’ve got to be going into the half-yearlies completely on top of the material and getting great marks and hopefully a great ATAR.