• Jenetta Haim

How much should I be studying for the HSC?


That’s a question that many students have so much difficulty with. Am I studying enough? Shouldn’t I be doing more? Am I doing enough to excel? These are just a few of many questions HSC students ask themselves.


Bottom line is that everyone is different and the number of hours studied varies greatly from person to person. Let’s look at all the factors need to be successful and what would work well.


Minimum study time

You might be thinking ‘good’ this is what I want but think again. The bare minimum of study hours that is required per week for HSC students is what works to consolidate knowledge and retain information effectively. The minimum for HSC students is 1 hour of study per day, on top of assessments, which means 7 hours per week. Although nowhere near the recommended amount there have been some cases of students studying an hour a day and performing fairly well in the HSC. Studying less than this amount can make the exam overwhelming as the huge amount of work needed demands at least a 7 hour commitment a week.


The Recommended study amount

On average, the recommended amount of study hours a week is dependent on the number of units undertaken by the student. Once again, consistency and dedicated commitment is needed to excel in the HSC.

The recommended amount is 2 hours of study for every unit undertaken per week. So for example, if you do 12 units in your HSC year as the majority of students do, the recommended amount is 24 hours of study per week, on top of your assessments. This is roughly three and a half hours of study per day. If you study 10 units, that is 20 hours per week or roughly three hours of study a day. For 14 units 28 hours a week or roughly 4 hours a day. That’s a hefty load.


Keep in mind that the recommended amount does not apply to everyone. Some students study up to 50 hours a week and have a lot of commitment and drive while others may study less than 20 hours and still manage to achieve ATARs in the 90s. What’s important is that you find a study routine that works for you, make a commitment and stick to it to the best of your ability.


Personalising your program

If for example a person undertook 11 units in the HSC year as far as study hours go you need to find a fairly convenient and set schedule. On weekdays for example, come home at 4pm, have a break until 4:30pm and study until 9:30pm. On weekends, generally start at 10am and go until 5pm. So, if we do Maths on this schedule that equates to 39 hours a week (give or take 2-3 hours). This schedule works for some and many have found that around 40 hours a week enabled them to finish all their work and revise thoroughly on all subjects.


Whilst that amount may seem excessive, it has been found that in order to excel in the subjects some people need to undertake that sort of commitment. One student who did this undertook the subjects of Advanced Maths, Advanced English, Extension 1 Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Ancient History. There are many aspects that determine how much you study so you don’t all have to study 40 hours a week!


Study hours are unique to every student and each of us have an obligation to establish what works for us and stick with it. How do you test that? By the marks you get in class tests and assessments. If the marks are low or mid-range you obviously need to study more.


As far as how much time you need to devote to each subject, the person in this example found out very early on to spend more time on weaker subjects to get a good ATAR. If you are weak at physics spend more time on that and less time on English if that comes easily. Remember one bad subject is all it takes to bring down your ATAR, so be consistent. Remember it’s also important to take 10 minute breaks every hour in study time.


Quantity and/or Quality

This is a debate that goes on forever. The truth is that both are needed to study efficiently and succeed in the HSC

It’s a waste to sit there for 8 hours with no plan and to just daydream. On the other hand you can study heaps with complete concentration and focus but if you do it for only half an hour you will still be behind.


Other Factors Affecting Study

So subjects you choose and the hours you put in as well as the difficulty of the subject will affect you. For example Extension 2 Maths has a lot of coursework and is one of the most challenging subjects to take in the HSC. Similarly, science subjects such as Chemistry and Physics also need a lot of time and have a heavy content taking more time to study. The higher scaling subjects in the HSC need more commitment and more study hours.


However, your individual strengths have as big impact on study hours. Everyone is different. Some people are good at Science, some Maths and others better at essay writing. If you are good at a particular subject, take advantage of that and spend more time focusing on your weaker ones. It’s really important that you identify your strengths and weaknesses and determine your study timetable according to that. The HSC rewards consistency across all subjects. If you neglect your weaknesses, you will find that your ATAR is dragged down considerably.


Where to from here?

Hopefully you now understand how to work out your study timetable and why it’s so important. You can play with this recommendation and tailor it to suit you. What’s important is that you have a good routine that enables you to keep up with assessments and excel in tests. This may seem like a lot of hours and a big ask but once you get into a routine you won’t notice how fast the time goes and before you know it, it will be Christmas and the exams over!

If you are having issues working out your study time, understanding your work or just with your HSC or year 11 work in general give us a call at Tutoring Services Sydney as we have well trained, professional tutors standing by in all subjects to help you along the way. Call today on 0426265386 or 0414680713.

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