The Week Before Trials: Your 7 Day Countdown

In the leadup to trials, students should be following a reasonable study timetable. This helps instil a consistent routine and should ease nerves for the upcoming exam period. Students may find themselves nervous for the trial exams. Remember, this is normal! The trials are the first time you are examined on each of your subjects in quick succession. While they can be demanding, they will give you a realistic understanding of what the final HSC exams are like.

In the week leading up to trials, students should have all prior work completed (for example, practice essays should be written already) and must focus on learning their information. There are many different methods of studying that students use when it comes to retaining information.

Below are our top tips to keep your brain focused in the leadup to the trial exam period.

1. Stay active during study – finding a balance

Exam periods often limit the amount of exercise or sport that students partake in. However, research proves that this is inadvisable. The benefits of exercise have been well established in the fields of health, fitness, and psychology. Studies show our brains get a boost following even a short workout, as our bodies are pumping oxygen. Exercising before or during a study session can significantly improve your ability to focus and retain information, as well as improving your mood through boosts of serotonin hormones.

2. Use active recall techniques

When we practice active recall, i.e. closing our study material and reciting what we have learnt without prompts, our brains are more likely to retain the information for long-term retrieval. The more that you do this, the longer the information is stored. Further, active recall techniques combat the “curve of forgetting”. The first time you review your study material, you retain up to 80% of what you’ve just learned if you review the material within 24 hours. After a week, you may retain 100% of the same information after only five minutes of review. Rather than cramming, try practicing active recall techniques consistently with the same study information.

3. Incorporate practice tests into your study timetable

Take advantage of any practice tests you may have access to to replicate the exam environment. Not only does this test your knowledge, but it generally mitigates the exam-anxiety that students may be facing by mimicking the climate of test conditions. Practice tests should be completed with the real exam in mind – this means timed conditions without notes. Ask your teacher if you can send in your practice tests to be marked and use their feedback to improve your work and focus on areas you need extra help with.

4. Teach someone else

Science indicates that students have better recall abilities when they learn information under the impression that they have to later teach it to someone else. Studies also suggest that students are more engaged and will instinctively seek out methods of recall and organization when expected to take on the role of teacher. Therefore, to improve retention, students should ask their family members if they can teach their study content to them.

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