HSC tips from the IGS Class of 2020

As we continue our HSC advice series, Maya Braun (2020) says "accept the reality" then "smash it"!

IGS Alumna Maya Braun, now a uni student who works for Elevate Education and has written a study book for Advanced Maths published by Connect Education says “good luck” and “smash it” to the IGS Class of 2021.

“There is no easy way to define the challenges you have during this time in lockdown, as everyone is completely different,” said Maya, who completed her HSC at IGS last year going in and out of COVID lockdowns.

“Accept the fact that you are actually doing your HSC in a lockdown and COVID crisis. It’s insane, crazy there are really no words to describe it. But overcoming that challenge can only be done by truly accepting the fact that yes this is not what you were expecting or imagined your last year of high school to be but (not to sound like a cliché) you have to face the music.

‘Take one day at a time’

“For me that was taking one day at a time but not how people would usually say to, but in the sense that at this point in time you have probably already written yourself a little plan, a schedule or made a calendar of when your trials are, when your HSC exams are and what does you will study what and when. This is your plan.

“Now when I say take one day at a time, I mean encompass your schedule but every morning you wake up to your Zoom tutor group, don’t think about what you are doing tomorrow, or next Thursday or in a month.

“Just think about what work you have set out for you to do today; what Zoom classes you are attending, what study you are doing in your free periods.

“Trust it sounds stupid, but we especially at stressful times tend to overthink and then panic, but this will keep you grounded, and you will actually find that you enjoy, the what seem like endless zoom calls and endless amounts of work a whole lot more.

“Another challenge I personally really struggled with was working with the schedule the online lessons provided, in the sense that I was just going from Zoom to Zoom, minute after minute and even at the given recess and lunch times I was still finishing work I was meant to have done in the Zoom class.”

Maya explained that sometimes it was necessary to reach out to teachers, mentors and the Head of Year, if anything wasn’t working.

“Yes, it’s your HSC year but the work you do counts but only if you do it to a high degree of quality, not just for the sake of finishing the task. If the work is too much, just be honest.

“DON’T PANIC! Just stick to your plan that you had at the beginning of the year. Do your study, do you practice papers, do the class work. Don’t change your whole preparation plan just because a lockdown has been thrown into the mix.

“The only thing that I added during the lockdown was that in the mornings I would make a ‘to do’ list for what I would do after the Zoom classes had finished for the day. As I’m sure you all have realised, you are probably so exhausted at around 4 o’clock because sitting in front of you screen the whole day is exhausting.

“But to ensure I didn’t slack off on my studies and prep, I forced myself to finish my to do list, even if there was only one thing on my list. Yes, sometimes I felt throwing a pen at the wall or giving up completely or just not doing it. But if you truly apply yourself, get stuck in and just do it, you will feel a thousand times better and know that you are doing the best you can.”

How did she stay connected with her friends during COVID, and during the HSC?

“Lots of my friends would just create their own Zoom link, so after all the official Zooms were done, we would all join this Zoom link and just chat and do any work we had together over the Zoom. Like any old afternoon in the study space just over zoom. It was easy, fun and there were tons of skribbl.io competitions as well.

“During the HSC, friends and I organised to study together in the study space just to see each other and do some work at the same time. Don’t overcomplicate staying connected. Keep it simple and fun.”

Maya also recommended staying active.

“Obliviously all sports is currently cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you have to cancel being active. My brother and I would either straight after a Zoom class had finished force each other to either go on a run, a walk, kick a ball or go for a bike ride. Just to make sure we were actually getting out of the house.

“During the HSC study period don’t give up your sport. I’m sure you’ve heard from many people that sport is an outlet. It truly is. I was still training three or four times a week and a game on the weekend during the time from trials to final exams. If you manage your time well, stick to what you’ve planned and actually let yourself enjoy the sports activity your doing, it is so rewarding.”

She advised closing the laptop and working by hand on paper during study periods, to take a break from the screen.

“It’ll help you to focus a little better and just give you a bit of freedom.

“Similarly, during your lunch breaks, because my dad, mum and brother were also all at home, we would eat together outside on the balcony or in the garden, just to ensure that during the hectic online day, you were actually given break to catch your breath and see your awesome family, maybe even cuddle with your adorable pets.

“You guys have got it hard, that’s undeniable. But you are all incredible and you’ve got this! Hang in there, don’t give up and if you ever need a chat or some advice, help or a laugh just reach out to any of us graduated Year 12s. We’ve been there, we’ve done it and we get it.

“Other than that, just trying to make the most of lockdown and enjoying time with the family.

IGS warmly thanks Maya for sharing her tips while she undertakes her uni degree in lockdown!