Students from the community who completed Year 12 with outstanding results share their insights into surviving the final year of school
Name: Xenia Lopes
Subjects: English Advanced, English Extension 1, Mathematics, Business Studies, Legal Studies, Economics
Awards: Top Achiever award – New South Wales state rank in Business Studies (20th rank), Premier Award for All Round Excellence, Distinguished Achievers Award
School: Hornsby Girls High School
Name: Preetham Kadappu
Subjects: English, Mathematics, Mathematics extension 1, Physics, Chemistry, Geography
Awards: Top Achiever award – New South Wales state rank in chemistry (2), Physics (3) and Maths (9)
School: Sydney Boys High School
Name: Kabir Agrawal
Subjects: Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2, English Advanced, Physics, Chemistry, Economics
School: Sydney Boys High School
Name: Viney Kumar
Subjects: Maths Extension 1, English Extension 1, Maths Advanced, English Advanced, Software Design and Development, Physics and Chemistry
School: Knox Grammar School
Name: Jasnoor Mann
Subjects: Mathematics (2 Unit), Mathematics Extension 1, English Advanced, Chemistry, Physics, Business Studies
School: Parramatta Marist High School
Name: Harjaap Singh
Subjects: Chemistry, Physics, Engineering Studies, Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2, English.
School: Glenwood High School
Name: Ashvin Bandodkar
Subjects: Modern History, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, English (Advanced), Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2
School: Girraween High School
Name: Seyoon Ragavan
Subjects: Mathematics Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 2, Software Design and Development, Physics, Chemistry, English Advanced
Awards: Top Achiever award – New South Wales state rank Software Design and Development (9), Mathematics Extension 2 (9)
School: Knox Grammar School
Name: Chiraag Bhalla
ATAR: 99.50 HSC
Subjects: Advanced English, Extension 1 and 2 Mathematics, Physics, Business Studies, Economics
School: Girraween High School
What was your overall experience of Year 12? What were your expectations going into the year?
Xenia Lopes: My initial thoughts going into Year 12 were quite daunting. I was not prepared for the endless hours of work and stress that would fill the months to follow and was definitely not prepared to be on lockdown, with no room for social events in the HSC calendar. I thought that my ATAR goal of getting 99+ was impossible and no matter how hard I worked, there were always going to be kids from selective schools and private schools around the state that were smarter than me and going to get better marks. But it was one of the most challenging yet amazingly fun years of my life. As I quickly organised the next few months and planned my study accordingly, the stress ran dry and I enjoyed Year 12 more than any of my other years at high school. It was nothing like I had ever imagined, I was travelling more, going out more and making more new friends than all the previous years of high school. Although there were many late nights at the library, I definitely think that as the months passed, my goal became more achievable and I realised that my results would only reflect the amount of effort that I had put in.
Preetham Kadappu: Year 12 was exciting, stressful, enjoyable and challenging all the while feeling as if it’s just another year at school with everyone. There’s nothing that parallels all the new paths opening up in your life and being exposed to more of the “real world”. Every year is a fresh slate for me, I always try to have no expectations and instead just try appreciate what turns out in the end, and this year was no different. I feel as if it helps me both not slack off or get too caught up in past failures. On the whole having no set expectations just made the entire experience of Year 12 more enjoyable, it made disappointments less harsh and achievements more fulfilling but that never avoids the facts that there are always ups and downs throughout this entire year, which was quite something to experience.
Kabir Agrawal: I enjoyed Year 12, a lot of it was quite fun for me, especially Mathematics. Going into Year 12 was daunting, as it should be because it is such a big leap. In the end, it becomes like a cricket game, if you train one week, then you should be fine for the weekend. If you train for a year, then you should be fine for a few weeks of exams.
Viney Kumar: The backdrop of the HSC loomed over the events of Year 12. Coupled with the stress associated with deciding on universities, subject preferences and career choices, it was an unsurprisingly tough year. However, contrary to my expectations, I still immensely enjoyed my last year of school despite the exams. I’m sure that my memories of school life and the friendships I’ve forged over the past few years will remain entrenched, even after the HSC becomes a distant memory.
Jasnoor Mann: I found Year 12 to be a challenging school year, however, at the same time it was exciting as I would finally be finishing school after 13 years. I was expecting an ATAR result of around 99, given how I had performed in Year 11. I exceeded my expectations considerably scoring a high 99 ATAR, as well as achieving DUX of the school.
Harjaap Singh: Year 12 was just as previous students had said; it was going to be tough, but enjoyable at times too. This was my exact experience. During exam times it was quite stressful however during holidays it was a good time to ease off the study and relax a little.
Ashvin Bandodkar: To be brutally honest, Year 12 was a rollercoaster of both challenges and emotions that seemed to present a new challenge around every corner, however it was all the more comforting knowing that all your peers were in the same boat as you. If I had to summarise my Year 12 experience in one word, it would be that of resilience. Year 12 was a huge eye-opener with regards to the importance of pushing through and ensuring that you learned from your mistakes, and even more importantly did not take your successes for granted. Having done my Chemistry HSC in Year 11, I walked into Year 12 with great hesitation as to how I would balance all my remaining subjects over the course of only one year. I knew that Year 12 would be a challenge, however I never stopped to consider the fact that over the next year, not only would I learn how to balance a seemingly infinite number of tasks and obligations, moreover, I would strengthen the friendships I had made with many of my peers to come out of the HSC in one piece, and it was that level of support that made the HSC a far better experience than I had initially anticipated.
Seyoon Ragavan: One of the things I appreciated most about my decision to go to Knox was the way in which there was an emphasis on building friendships, working together with others, and learning for the sake of learning, and only then on results. Going into Year 12, I was apprehensive that this might change given the importance of the HSC, as well as expectations being placed on individual students. Thankfully none of this was the case; our friendships only grew stronger as we weathered the HSC storm together, and we really did come out feeling like we’d learnt a lot rather than merely having prepared for a series of exams. While I was more than happy with my results, I was even happier that to me and my friends the results barely mattered in the end.
Chiraag Bhalla: As my final year, I honestly found it my best and most enjoyable year. Obviously met with the increased academic pressure, I found that it was a great year to form valuable and great bonds with my cohort, as well as forming friendships with teachers you meet every single day. Also many forget that Year 12 is our transitional year to university, so the increased freedom was greatly enjoyed! Being thoroughly prepped from elder family and friends, I can comfortably say I was expecting to be flooded with work and assignments that would inevitably lock me in my room. As the year continued, however, I learnt that the pace you take it at is completely up to you, and it is up to you with what you decide to make out of it. It was this realisation that helped me set my own targets, something I had to develop throughout the year.
What did you learn about yourself?
Xenia Lopes: The most important thing I learnt about myself was my potential to work hard towards a goal I was passionate about. I didn’t realise until Year 12 that I had the capability to even study for eight hours straight if it meant that I would be one step closer to achieving my end HSC goal. I learnt to be more resilient, even when I didn’t get the mark I was expecting and I think most of all I realised how much growth capacity I have as an individual to do great things in the future.
Preetham Kadappu: I think Year 12 helps you learn multiple aspects about yourself as a person and orient yourself for the future.
Kabir Agrawal: I felt enlightened. No, not really. I just felt that I really was a lot better than I thought after changing my mindset. I mean, you just understand a lot more about your own capabilities and what exactly someone can achieve if focus is applied and you just have fun with the subjects.
Viney Kumar: I believe the HSC and the circumstances surrounding my HSC year taught me how to set my own goals and how to systematically work to achieve them. The HSC is not just one set of exams – it’s a marathon over an entire year that ends with the final exams in October. I learnt that by focusing on my goals for the future, I could overcome any barriers to achievement in any aspect of my life. I also found out how valuable motivation was as a resource. During the holidays and through first two weeks of term three, I undertook a six-week research internship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston. This removed much of the time I had to study for the exams, and I returned to school only two weeks before the dreaded trial exams began. Despite this difficult circumstance, the motivation I had accumulated from this amazing experience allowed me to condense eight weeks of study into two weeks and achieve the best result that I could.
Jasnoor Mann: I learnt that I had the ability to work hard and stay motivated, which ultimately allowed me to achieve and exceed my goals.
Harjaap Singh: I learnt that I was capable of doing something which I previously had thought was out of my reach. Developing multitasking skills and learning how to manage stress was all due to my experiences of Year 12.
Ashvin Bandodkar: The first thing I learned about myself was that I really needed my sleep, and so to all future HSC students I would recommend, at the very least, taking naps to make sure you can make it through school and studying at home. As the year unravelled, I learned that I stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and started focussing on just myself. Of course, it’s always good to know and care about how your peers are doing, however I feel that through directing my attention towards my own challenges that I got through work a lot quicker and with much less stress.
Seyoon Ragavan: I proved to myself that I could do much more than I thought I could, and also that I could hold my nerve in undesirable circumstances. I tend to think and work in a very unique way, whereas to do well in the HSC you need to conform to a set of standards to some extent. I did endeavour to do this but at many points in the year it seemed like it just wasn’t working, particularly for physics and chemistry. In the end, pure hard work and grit got me there, overcoming quite a few obstacles along the way.
Chiraag Bhalla: It was the first time that I realised that I actually enjoy studying! Previously, I found studying a chore, and my results reflected that. However, after a clear visualisation of my goals and targets, I could see my efforts in studying had a direction. And through this process, I actually began to enjoy the subjects I was learning and was motivated to do the work.
What was your studying technique? Did you have any added support from a tutor or at home?
Xenia Lopes: I had quite a unique studying technique; I never studied at home, but rather at the library. To my parents, this was strange at first as they never saw me study and thought I wasn’t taking the HSC as seriously as I should have. But after my first assessments, they realised that this was the right study technique for me. I loosely pre-learned the syllabus for my content heavy subjects and wrote my English essays many weeks before the exam so that the weeks leading up to exams were not as stressful as I had no new content to learn. In the two weeks before any exam periods, I would start revising and doing past papers – which I think was the most important practice for any exam, especially under timed conditions.
Preetham Kadappu: I always used to take notes of what we did in class the day and once I was home, detail them with any other resources – textbooks, internet or classmates. Every weekend I’d go through them side by side with the syllabus, ensuring I’d marked every point. Then as my major exams came up, I’d rewrite all the notes I had until that point in a condensed form. It didn’t take long, usually less than 1 hour each day, but nearing exams would reach 2-3 hours a day. Tutoring helped me reinforce what I was learning at school, and consolidated my knowledge. But much more necessary to my success was the ongoing support at home, my family were extremely understanding of my situation and guided me through the year and more importantly let me skip doing chores.
Kabir Agrawal: I aimed to study in chunks. So the idea for me was to group chunks of common information together and learn this through a step by step flow, and this was commonly applicable to physics, chemistry and economics. For English and Mathematics, it is purely through practice and perfection, writing essays and doing questions under time pressure. Yes, I did get help from other tutors.
Viney Kumar: Before the start of the school year, I had been encouraged to come up with a study timetable. However, these timetables hadn’t worked for me in past years, and I had picked up the unfortunate habit of discarding the plan after a week or so, as it simply wasn’t flexible enough to be adaptable. One technique I used was to construct a “Not Study” plan, where I listed down all the extra-curricular and other activities I wanted to complete during the week (e.g. music practice, sports training times etc). After completing this plan, I was able to find the optimal times when I could put in blocks of study. I was never tempted to disregard the plan as it contained all the things I was really excited about during Year 12! In addition, the small spaces in my plan not covered by a mass of extra-curricular activities made me aware of the limited time I had, which certainly renewed my focus on the tasks at hand. Other than this, I used past examinations as my fall back method of studying, as these papers were reliable ways to become exposed to many different question types and topics under exam conditions, while also improving my exam technique.
My parents put in a lot of effort to accommodate for my study and other commitments was absolutely incredible, and it certainly enabled me to succeed in my studies and in other areas this year. My grandparents from India also made a special effort and were here right on time to support me from the trials all the way to the HSC results.
Jasnoor Mann: My studying technique was focused on addressing all the requirements of the syllabus dot points and completing as many past papers as I could. Also, I had tutoring for a few subjects which was very helpful.
Harjaap Singh: I learnt much better when I wrote down all of my notes as compared to typing them up on a PC. I was only tutored for Extension 2 Mathematics and Chemistry.
Ashvin Bandodkar: For me, the most important thing to consider whilst studying was to ensure that I dedicated equal amounts of time to all of my subjects, which meant 30 minute rotations between each subject, which I repeated over the course of each evening. I never really bothered studying during recess or lunch at school because that was my time to just relax with mates. As far as tutoring goes, I had a wonderful support network of tutors for Mathematics, Biology and English, alongside my mother who’s a Chemistry teacher herself.
Seyoon Ragavan: I went to great lengths to make sure that I understood all my content deeply rather than just knowing it superficially. This involved asking my teachers plenty of questions, as well as making a set of syllabus-based notes along the way (I also made these notes highly specific to how I like to think and learn – plenty of diagrams, subheadings, tables, and flowcharts). I also made sure I gave myself sufficient practice at answering questions; communicating my understanding clearly was something of a sticking point for me, and this was something I got the hang of with practice. My teachers were incredibly helpful in looking at my practice answers and giving me feedback on them as the year passed. I just had a tutor for English who I met with whenever I needed help (usually in the lead-up to assessments/exams), and was instrumental to getting me over the Band 6 line. At home, my parents helped with short-term memory work in the immediate lead-up to exams, as well as ensuring that I was getting quality food, drink and sleep.
Chiraag Bhalla: My studying methodology relied heavily on task delegation and recording all tasks and assignments I had to complete. This meant that each day when I came from home, I knew what tasks I had to get done, and it was these mini targets that allowed me to stay on track in the long run. During Year 11, I noticed that I had a few conceptual gaps in a few subjects, so I sought the aid of an external tutor.
How did you decide what subjects to pick and why?
Xenia Lopes: Going into the Preliminary and HSC years, I was often told to pick subjects that ‘scaled well’ or I wouldn’t be able to get a good ATAR. However, these “high scaling subjects” weren’t really the subjects I was passionate about or enjoyed very much in junior school. I wasn’t keen on studying Science and I didn’t really like Maths so I decided to stick to my strengths and focus on social sciences. For me, even though these subjects didn’t have “great scaling”, I knew I would be in a better position studying for the next two years of my life if I actually enjoyed the subjects and by playing my strengths, I would still be able to get a good ATAR.
Preetham Kadappu: I decided to pick subjects based on my interest in the subject, my strengths and time management. I was always interested in the sciences and in maths, and luckily they were also my strengths. I only did Extension 1 rather than Extension 2 Maths because of the extra time I would get which I used to work on my weak points. Geography was a subject I wasn’t too interested in, but it was a strength of mine, which is why I chose it.
Kabir Agrawal: I mainly picked the sciences because they are the most logical subjects, unlike English in which there are so many possible answers that can be expressed in so many different ways.
Viney Kumar: I picked my subjects based mainly on a combination of interest and career ambitions as a Year 10 student. Scaling is also an additional factor, but it only plays a role in deciding the marks one needs to score in each subject in order to achieve any particular ATAR score. As long as you deem these marks to be achievable and the marks themselves are not affected too much by chance factors that vary from exam to exam, scaling factors should not influence decisions. However, I would encourage anyone who is trying to decide on subjects for Year 11 and 12 to pick Advanced Maths and English (or higher), as these subjects are of vital importance in developing the critical thinking and writing skills which are essential for university.
Jasnoor Mann: Building upon my interests from Year 7-10, I chose subjects that I enjoyed and wanted to potentially pursue a degree or further study in university.
Harjaap Singh: I had decided what course I wanted to study at university by the end of Year 10 so I chose the subjects that met the prerequisites to increase my chances of being given admission. I also enjoyed a challenge and that is why I picked more academic subjects.
Ashvin Bandodkar: After speaking to a lot of my teachers and friends in the year above, it became evident that if I was to do well, I would need to choose subjects that I had an interest in. That definitely meant locking in my two science subjects, as well as Economics and Modern History. I chose those subjects with the aim of having a well-rounded studying experience. I definitely enjoyed the high level of thinking involved in Extension 2 Mathematics.
Seyoon Ragavan: In Year 11, I took the same set of subjects but without Mathematics Extension 2 and with English Extension 1; I was already certain I wanted to have a sciences-heavy assortment of subjects, as I have always been a sciences-inclined person. While I had done well with English Extension 1and in fact enjoyed it significantly more than English Advanced, it was also one of my most time-consuming subjects, so dropping it seemed like the sensible thing to do. Maths is my strong point so picking up Extension 2 was a natural move. The only question mark was keeping Software Design and Development (given its typically unimpressive scaling relative to my other subjects), but it was one of the subjects I enjoyed the most so I went with my gut and kept it. This was a fantastic decision in the end; I came 9th in the state and it did end up counting for my ATAR!
Chiraag Bhalla: My subject selection was based on my natural interests that I discovered during Year 10. I think this was one of my best choices, because often students fall in the trap of picking high scaling subjects. Whilst this is good for those who enjoy the subjects, forcing yourself to study a subject you don’t like for two years is a lot harder than it sounds.
Did you feel there was much competition within your cohort?
Xenia Lopes: At a selective school, there was definitely competition within the grade. The ATAR system works in such a way that it pits students against each other in competition for the highest possible rank and naturally with this comes a lot of competition. However, as the months passed and my cohort began to realise that the HSC exams were soon dawning upon us, the competition disappeared and we began sharing notes and helping each other to ensure we all did really well, together. It was when we realised that we all needed to work together that we were able to help each other and motivate each other to achieve the best results we could in our final exams.
Preetham Kadappu: At any selective school there will be competition, but I felt as if within our school, it wasn’t a hostile competition, people were still very cooperative with each other, and we would often run peer tutoring during lunchtimes and before exams. The competitive nature of each person made us strive to be the best, but also didn’t make us forget about our peers.
Kabir Agrawal: There is always competition. Especially at the top end of any cohort. It becomes really pressurising because once you get to the top, there is always the need to stay there because things can change very, very quickly.
Viney Kumar: While there was competition amongst my cohort at school, it was friendly competition and we never let academic competition stand in the way of personal friendship. In fact, everyone in my cohort supported each other and helped other students to bounce back after an exam setback! This culture of peer teaching was immensely helpful as it helped everyone to succeed, as there was always something to learn from the experience of teaching the content to someone else.
Jasnoor Mann: Yes, my cohort was very competitive, which was beneficial for all students as we pushed each other to improve.
Harjaap Singh: Competition was always present however this allowed for positive growth. Without competition students including myself would not have pushed themselves as far to gain the best outcome
Ashvin Bandodkar: Throughout the year, I like to think that the healthy competition within our grade is what motivated most of us to achieve our absolute best in every one of our subjects. That being said, there was never a time where individuals in my cohort would not help one another, and as such I believe that the competition we had established between ourselves was there as a motivator to do our best.
Seyoon Ragavan: No, and I was very glad of that. Our school made it very clear to us right from the get-go that our results lay in the hands of each other’s performances as much as our own. As such, we were always looking to study together, share notes with each other, and raise each other up. This benefited us in terms of both results and our long-term friendship and well-being.
Chiraag Bhalla: When I first started Year 12, I was expecting students to become a lot more competitive, and friendships to strain under the stress. However, contrary to my thought, I saw my cohort become stronger and tighter than ever before. This was largely due to a cultural change our school introduced, and the benefits in performance and mental health have been positive and encouraging.
What extra-curricular activities or hobbies helped you maintain a balance between work and play?
Xenia Lopes: During Year 12, for me it was really important to maintain a balance between work and play. Being heavily involved in the community in the years leading up to Year 12, I did not give up any of my commitments during my HSC year. I played netball on Saturdays with my team of five years, practiced music lessons once a week and volunteered at the local Red Cross Shop as a retail volunteer, completing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award during Year 12. I became a part of many school committees to keep myself busy during lessons and relieve the stress that came up from just being in the atmosphere of the HSC year.
Preetham Kadappu: I always tried to involve myself in as many extracurricular to make sure I didn’t overwork myself, these included sport tennis, basketball and soccer – which I would have games for on Saturdays; music – I play the guitar and that has always been a source of relaxation; and I would volunteer at several different places on a weekly basis such as at a childcare and at an English Intensive High School.
Kabir Agrawal: My main extra-curricular activity was playing sport, especially cricket, which was the major outlet for me through school. I would also just spend time watching TV for some time, usually a regular show such as Scorpion.
Viney Kumar: My main extracurricular activities included captaining the 1st squash and chess teams and playing the flute in the school symphony orchestra and wind ensemble. These activities were definitely both engaging and relaxing and helped me to maintain a balance between work and play.
Jasnoor Mann: I occasionally played video games, watched sports on TV and played sports with friends.
Harjaap Singh: Flying is a passion of mine and being able to go to airport and take control of a small engine aircraft allowed me to get away from all the stress of Year 12.
Ashvin Bandodkar: A lot of what I did aside from studying happened at school, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do these activities as my form of stress relief this year. Serving as the School’s Vice-Captain allowed me to heavily involve myself in our school community, and through partaking in all the various prefect-organised events throughout the year, served as a great opportunity to take a break from studying whilst doing something productive. Other than that, I can honestly say that it was just the recess and lunch that I spent relaxing with mates that helped me get through and talk to them about the struggles of 4U Math of how much we all hated English, and that really helped me find that balance between work and play.
Seyoon Ragavan: I’m a keen musician; I sing and play percussion (both the Western drum set and the Indian mridangam). As always, music let me access my mind in a different and refreshing way. I also played squash for Knox throughout the year, which ensured I was getting enough physical activity and also allowed me to interact with friends regularly in a non-academic context. While of course this work-play balance rubbed off well on my results, my motivation for continuing to pursue these activities seriously was simply out of love for them; I wasn’t willing to compromise on my natural sense of life balance for a whole year just for some results.
Chiraag Bhalla: I quickly noticed that from the beginning of Year 12 I would have to maintain a healthy balance of extra activities to prevent the metaphorical “burning out” everyone warns you about. For me, I did this through regular activities that I found relaxing and allowed to exit school thought. Within my school, I was in my debating and chess team. In my community, I would regularly volunteer and acting as a Youth Ambassador for the Red Cross further helped me.
What is your most memorable Year 12 experience?
Xenia Lopes: The last few weeks of Year 12 were quite memorable. We had just finished all our content and we were done with all the school exams and our trials and it was time to complete our high school journey. The events that the school put on during this time definitely made it harder to enjoy the fact that we were finally going to be done with school and it was especially our Year 12 concert that I think I will remember for the rest of my life.
Preetham Kadappu: Despite every great memory of this year, ringing the bell as we walked out of Chemistry, our last exam, has to be the most memorable moment of Year 12. Nothing could compare to the point where we finally crossed the finish line, and with our sanity intact as an added bonus.
Kabir Agrawal: My most memorable experience is related to cricket game in school team where I took 7 wickets and gave away 6 run in 8 over when we played against Sydney Grammar School. This was a record breaking bowling figure in the history of Sydney Boys’ High School. Sure enough, I couldn’t believe I was getting wicket after wicket off smart bowling, and I can genuinely remember each of the 7 wickets I took even now.
Viney Kumar: The week before graduating from Year 12 was absolutely awesome. My school made this celebration incredibly special, holding events ranging from Year 12 breakfasts, to muck up days and even an entire fun filled carnival day complete with a bouncing castle! Year 12 presentation day was an incredible way to cap it all off and finish my schooling career at Knox.
Jasnoor Mann: Achieving the DUX of my school, as well as receiving the Senior Cup for English and Science.
Ashvin Bandodkar: Unlike the blur of assessments I faced this year, my most memorable Year 12 experience would have to be hosting the annual school Music, Art, Dance and Drama production alongside my other captains. Having the opportunity to just have a laugh along with our whole school for one night and view some amazing examples of music and dance was something I will always remember, and was one of the few moments in the year that we could all truly forget our studying commitments and relax a little.
Seyoon Ragavan: There was plenty of fun for us in our final two weeks of school. The school arranged us a carnival day of rides, entertainment and BBQ on our oval, as well as our Speech Day and Valedictory Dinner which were welcome opportunities to reflect with our teachers on a quick but amazing six-year journey. We (the year 12 students) also went out of our way to conduct a few harmless pranks such as having a water party on school grounds (and even better, our teachers got behind them as well!!). It all served as a necessary reminder before the final stretch that we all had so much more to cherish than results.
Chiraag Bhalla: My most enjoyable experience was after our Trial examinations, when several of my mates decided to go on a road trip to mentally reset and relax. It was one of the best choices I made to go, and the memories I have are great.
What would you do differently?
Xenia Lopes: I’m quite happy with how this year went but I think there are two things that I would do differently if I had to do it all over again. Firstly, I think I would have wanted to complete an accelerated HSC subject before my HSC year to remove the workload I had in Year 12 as many of my classmates did do this and it really relieved their stress levels. The other thing would be dropping Extension Mathematics sooner as I feel like I did waste half a year doing the exams for the subject and studying for it even though I dropped it before the HSC.
Preetham Kadappu: Nothing, not because of what I’ve achieved, but because of the fact that I put in my best effort throughout the journey, and the ability to go forward knowing that even if I wasn’t gifted by such results, I would still be able to say I gave it my all.
Kabir Agrawal: I would have loved to change everything if I could. I would’ve done a lot better if I changed my study technique earlier. But I would also try and improve the way I approached life, especially talking to others about something different to academics.
Viney Kumar: Sleep more by procrastinating less. Adequate sleep is incredibly important for success in the classroom as well as in exam situations. Even an hour can make a huge difference. Procrastinating on tasks less would have enabled me to sleep a little earlier, enhancing my performance in the long run.
Jasnoor Mann: In hindsight I think I should have been less stressed and been more optimistic throughout the year.
Harjaap Singh: I believe the outcome of my results was quite satisfactory so I wouldn’t do anything differently.
Ashvin Bandodkar: Looking back, I always regret not going beyond the scope of the syllabus and only remembering what I absolutely needed to know. The subjects we students are offered have an incredible breadth and coverage, and so if I were to do this all over, I would probably set aside more time before each exam to have a wholesome understanding of my subjects in order to truly appreciate them.
Seyoon Ragavan: Nothing. If my goal was to maximise my ATAR, then there would have been things to do differently. But it wasn’t; my primary aim was to have a year of learning and fun I’d remember as fondly as any other, and in taking care to focus on the learning and maintain my friendships and work-life balance, I did just that. I was also somewhat hopeful of pulling off solid results in my strong-suit subjects, and my hard work to this end paid off as well; I came 9th in the state in both Maths Extension 2 and Software Design and Development, and also enjoyed strong results in my other subjects. There were a lot of points throughout the year where I could have easily melted – be it mentally, academically, or effort-wise – but I didn’t, and I’m proud of the character strength I’ve built throughout this journey.
Chiraag Bhalla: I learnt that in the initial stages, I was relying heavily on motivation to keep me going and study. Whilst this does push you to study in the early stages, you quickly learn that motivation is only temporal. It was only later that I learnt the value of discipline, and it is something I hope to integrate during university and further life.
What perks did you enjoy (either at school or at home)?
Xenia Lopes: I think the best perk was definitely not having to do chores at home, haha. Jokes aside, my school did give Year 12s some amazing perks which included our very own Year 12 cottage with a functioning kitchen, lunch access to Westfield Hornsby and of course our witty name jerseys which were the best perk of being Year 12s.
Preetham Kadappu: Our school was not only academic oriented, but was strongly supportive of co-curriculars and extra-curriculars and provided us with more opportunities to partake in them than other schools, which was the best perk of my schooling career.
Kabir Agrawal: Well, I loved to play sports and just as much, I love academics, and having this balance was definitely a perk of going to Sydney Boys’ High.
Viney Kumar: I received incredible support from my parents for my endeavours. This was backed up by facilities available at school. I made particular use of a facility known as “evening study”, which allowed students to study in the Library after school until 9pm (with a break for dinner). In addition, I did not have to undertake a part time job during my final year of school.
Jasnoor Mann: My parents looked after me very well with food, support and less chores, allowing me to focus on my studies and at school my friends were also motivated to do well.
Harjaap Singh: Time to time couple of school friends sit together in park and eat pizza during stressful time. At home I asked mum to cook my favourite dishes.
Ashvin Bandodkar: I think the biggest perk of the HSC is the ability to use it as an excuse for almost anything, and for me, that certainly came in the form of getting my brother to do all the housework (although I’m sure he’ll return the favour in two years when he sits the HSC). Other than that I think that the HSC makes those around you a lot more caring and sympathetic, which actually really matter given the high level of stress involved in doing everything in the span of only one year.
Seyoon Ragavan: The little things in life (when I could afford time for them) – eating out with family, movies with friends, and quality time with friends and teachers at school, to name a few.
Chiraag Bhalla: To break the monotony of continuous studying, I would provide myself perks after I achieved each of my study goals. Often this would be watching a TV show or movie afterwards, guilt free, or even just meeting up with mates. I felt that this method of study first, enjoy later, was personally really effective as it felt more earned and continued to drive me to study in the future.
What does the future hold for you? What are you hoping to study at uni?
Xenia Lopes: I recently received an early offer from the University of Sydney to study in the prestigious Combined Law Program. In this program I will be studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce.
Preetham Kadappu: For me, I never know, I would like to say I have a set out plan or know where exactly I’m going, but over the past year I’ve learned to deal with life as it comes, as it’s too spontaneous for any plans to be made so early on. I’m hoping to study either medicine or actuaries and science double degree. I am really and almost equally interested in both.
Kabir Agrawal: The future is always unexpected. But I aim to be a successful Actuary graduate who is also a good cricketer, and this much I can strive to achieve in the future. Obviously, it is not going to be easy, but I can always endeavour for the best.
Viney Kumar: I hope to combine my passion for Maths and Science with my love for debating, public speaking and writing by studying a combined degree in Law and Mathematics at the University of Sydney. It’s incredibly exciting for me and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me there!
Jasnoor Mann: I was very interested in science in my schooling years and want to study Advanced Science in the Talented Student Program (TSP) at UNSW.
Harjaap Singh: I am planning to study at the University of New South Wales in the course Bachelor of Aviation (Flying) and attain my Commercial Pilot License.
Ashvin Bandodkar: In all honesty I’m not sure where exactly I will end up, but I hope that next year I will have the opportunity to study Medicine or some health-related course at university.
Seyoon Ragavan: I’m hoping to double major/degree Mathematics and Computer Science, hopefully somewhere in the US, but if not then either at UNSW or ANU. As for a career, I’m very uncertain at the moment, but definitely something along these lines. In particular, I’m hoping to do something at the crossroads of two fields (e.g. Maths and CS, CS and Physics, or CS and Biology), as I’m strongly of the view that breakthroughs in human knowledge and understanding stem from the integration of superficially unrelated fields.
Chiraag Bhalla: In 2017, I am planning on studying Law and Commerce at the University of Sydney. The choice was hard to make as I had to decline a Co-Op scholarship and Cadetship, but it will help me better reach my professional and personal goals.
What would your advice to future final year students be?
Xenia Lopes: I think the best advice I can give is never give up. During those 12 months of the HSC year, it can be quite hard to continue to work to the best of your abilities and get back up when something has knocked you down, but the amount of effort that you put in to your Year 12 studies will definitely be reflected in your results, and you will receive a reward for your effort! Also, don’t forget to treat yourself, take breaks and take some time to chill out once in a while before you start to burn yourself out. The Year 12 experience is something that can teach you many things about yourself and it is also one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life so make sure you take advantage of all opportunities that come your way!
Preetham Kadappu: Although it’ll be a 100m sprint on the racetrack in the course of our lives, while we go through it, it feels more like a 1000 mile kayak across the Pacific Ocean. Remember to not let the tides of results, hobbies or relationships carry you too far from your goals, and always know that you’ll never be alone. Good luck for your endeavours!
Kabir Agrawal: The best piece of advice I can give is relax and balance the work. During the exam period, always relax so that you can remain mentally strong when doing the exams. When I say balance the work, I mean make sure you put equal effort into each one of the subjects that you do, because the HSC is dependent on multiple subject scores, not just one subject.
Viney Kumar: Despite exams, the final year of school can be as enjoyable as you make it. Find ways to make it enjoyable and fun, and the exams will be over in no time! Also, watch out for alternative entry pathways into university, as each university has at least one of these programs. Apply for them midway through Year 12, as these pathways can ease the added burden of university places being dependent upon exam marks, and enable you to focus on the exam and ease the nerves when the crunch time comes.
Jasnoor Mann: It is important to set goals, study hard and consistently, while maintaining a balance with leisure activities and lastly to do your best.
Harjaap Singh: I would advise future students to keep calm and collected because if you put your mind to studying, you can achieve the results you want.
Ashvin Bandodkar: Honestly the best piece of advice I can give for anyone sitting the HSC this year is to be well-aware for what you’re in for, and ensure that you do not place all your efforts into one subject. I also constantly remember pushing myself to write heaps of English essays because, at the end of the day, it has to count! Other than that be sure to not burn yourself out, to exercise regularly and keep your family and friends close; you’ll definitely need them to get through it all!
Seyoon Ragavan: Your results are important because they determine your immediate future options (although only to an extent), but your learning and growth is even more important because that determines how effectively you’ll be able to think critically and handle unfamiliar situations throughout your life. This is most likely your final opportunity to closely study a wide range of subjects, so make the most of it. Last, but certainly not least – eat, drink, sleep, and relax!
Chiraag Bhalla: I am sure students get a lot of advice about studying hard and getting good results, and that is really important. I personally feel it is a lot easier when you know the WHY of why you are studying, and what it is dedicated towards. Also make sure you enjoy Year 12. It is honestly the best year of high school, and the friendships you form are ones that you will truly value.
|My HSC in 3 wordsXenia: Stressful yet rewarding
Preetham: Unforgettable challenging adventure
IMAGINE with all your mind
BELIEVE with all your heart
ACHIEVE with all your might
Viney: Veni, Vidi, Vici
Harjaap: Challenge persistence commitment
Chiraag: Just have fun
Ashvin: Exciting, challenging and humbling
Seyoon: Not that bad!