HSC's Amazing achievers

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Year 12 graduates talk about their experiences to DANIELLE MATHAIS

After a hard year of stress and preparation, the results are finally out for the HSC graduates of 2012. Indian Link spoke to some of the top rankers in the community about their studying techniques, their attitude towards the HSC and their future plans.

What is most interesting about this new breed of graduates is their ability to juggle many balls, and yet still have the ability to perform very well in the exam. Their extracurricular activities are interesting, to say the least, they are young, confident, focused, down-to-earth and most of all, very sure of their future. We wish them all the very best in their future endeavours.

Choose the right subjects

A key to success for many HSC students is choosing the right subjects. This was certainly the case for Bhavana Bhat from  Girraween High School. “Definitely pick subjects you actually enjoy doing, otherwise you’d be sitting in the course, but won’t be motivated to work – do what you enjoy, that’s where motivation comes from,” she says.

Bhavana received an ATAR of 99.30 and ranked 18th in NSW in Chemistry, which she completed as an accelerated course last year.

Year 12 is an intense time, not only for the HSC students and their peers, but for their families as well. “My family was a huge support, providing me with English and Mathematics tutoring and any other resources I needed to assist my study, she reveals. “Whenever I’d need the resources – extra tutoring or classes – they’d organise that for me, work around my schedules with dinner time…make it easier and less stressful,” she adds gratefully. And the effort certainly paid off for this talented young lady and her family.

Bhavana’s study technique mainly involved setting a plan for herself for what needed to be revised the night before each exam, as well as arranging set tasks to complete. She believes that this strategy can help students preparing for their HSC.

Regarding her future, Bhavana has applied for a double degree in commerce/law and is interested in doing something in the business field, such as becoming a commercial lawyer.

And the highlight of her success will be the opportunity for Bhavana to start dancing again, something she always loved and indulged in as a recreation and sport throughout high school, until she stopped in Year 11 to focus on her studies.

Love of learning

It was her pure love of learning that drove Millie Garg from North Sydney Girls High School to work hard to achieve the best that she could in her HSC exams.

And that best was an impressive ATAR of 99.85, a satisfying result for this young achiever. “My passion for knowledge and learning was one of the key factors of my success,” reveals Millie, who has always been one to follow her passions, particularly when it came to choosing the right subjects.

During junior school, she found that Science and Maths came naturally to her. However, Millie also loved English as she had enjoyed reading since the age of 7, and literature was also one of her hobbies. “I decided that my natural ability in maths would give me an extra push, but I also decided to take up English Extension 1 to give myself a balance,” admits Millie.

“It’s not fun to be in the same mindset with all similar subjects,” she adds.

And as a naturally social person, Millie emphasises the importance of staying balanced throughout the HSC, as the stress can sometimes be overwhelming.

“HSC is not just about working hard but about staying mentally tough as well. You can’t be mentally strong in an exam if you are not relaxed enough – if you can’t go into an exam and think clearly, you can’t reach your full potential or achieve the best that you can,” she says.

Millie also remained consistent with her studying technique throughout the year, making sure she was constantly on track with everything that happened in class, which she feels is the most important thing.

Balanced lifestyle

It was 3am in India when the ATAR results were published in Australia, and Bhavya Nanda and his family were waiting anxiously to find out how he had scored. And they were certainly not disappointed. The Cherrybrook Technology High School graduate had in fact received the top ATAR of 99.75 for his school! “I refreshed the screen to see if it was real,” admits Bhavya. “I was really surprised when I saw what I had achieved.”

“Everyone was really pleased, we pulled an all-nighter celebrating and discussing results with my friends in Australia,” he adds with a smile.

Bhavya’s philosophy is that always being one step ahead of the game is beneficial in all aspects of life, but especially when it comes to the HSC exams.

“Preparing early really helps to get an effective and adequate amount of study needed to excel. And the tutoring I received in Maths and Chemistry also helped put me ahead of the class, as my tutors taught from a few dot points ahead in the syllabus, and covered everything in depth,” he explains.

Bhavya says he always approached study in an organised way and never left anything till the last minute or crammed.

“It’s important to set deadlines and plan,” he says, “It keeps you motivated. No one is perfect, and in the end it helps you remain focused.”

Bhavya feels that it is also important to work out a time of study that is most effective and productive. “For me, straight after school in the afternoon was just right as I remained in ‘school mode’ or in a study mindset,” he says.

And Bhavya certainly needed that study time, as being in his final year of school didn’t entail much of a change from his regular lifestyle. “I managed to maintain a balanced lifestyle; I continued to play cricket and rugby, and I went out with my mates. The activity kept me fit and made Year 12 more enjoyable and less stressful,” he admits.

Bhavya is now really looking forward to pursuing a double degree in actuarial studies/economics at UNSW, which he says will hopefully be a “challenging, yet rewarding” course.

Thank you for the music!

Nishta Kaushik from North Sydney Girls High School plays in the Warringa Community Band, and thoroughly enjoys her music. “Maintaining this balance between work and play helped me a lot during the HSC year. My music kept me alive as it kept my studies more focused, and I could also concentrate on working my study schedule around my extra curricular activities,” she explains. “Having a balance makes you happier, gives you a better outlook on life,” she says. “The brain works better when you’re the happiest.”

Nishta was certainly delighted with the news that she had received an ATAR of 99.05. “It is crucial to keep good mental health throughout the stressful HSC period,” she says, revealing that she had seen how exams and marks affected her peers and dragged them down emotionally.

Nishta ensured that she kept her hobbies like music in her life, because having a balance helped her to be resilient and to easily bounce back from any struggles in her studies.

“For example, on days where I didn’t have band practice, I’d feel like I had the whole day to study so I’d be more likely to waste time,” she says.

Although Nishta admits that band events, such as national competitions, did take time out of her study, she says that it was ultimately a good break and allowed her to come back more refreshed and focused.

But choosing to take Music Extension as a subject for the HSC was one of Nishta’s best decisions. “This is something I am really good at, I enjoy it and it gave me a break from other subjects. Doing music as a subject felt like I was indulging in my hobby,” she says. “I could just tell myself I was ‘studying’!”

Nishta is looking to do something in the health sciences field, such as medicine or dentistry. “I’ve always found that the satisfaction of being able to use my knowledge to help people has been very appealing,” says this musical young lady.

The next challenge

Now that the HSC is done and dusted and Sandhya Srinivasan from Baulkham Hills High School has scored an ATAR of 99.80, she is ready to take on her next challenge.

Sandhya is a Bharatnatyam dancer and is now looking forward to doing her debut encore performance or arangetram, which is held after years of training in the dance form, to signify a rite of passage in her dance career.

Her parents enrolled her into Indian dancing at the age of 5, and Sandhya continued her lessons, taking a break only a month before the HSC, where she stopped to focus on her studies.

But that’s not this young lady’s only skill. She also plays the clarinet, having progressed up to grade 5 in the AMEB exams, and she intends continuing playing after the HSC. So with all these extracurricular activities, how did Sandhya manage to score an ATAR of 99.80? “Working towards a goal is always a motivating factor when it comes to study,” she explains. “ I aimed for the goal of 99.75 or above and worked towards that goal throughout the year. This helped me to remain focused and motivated me into to studying harder.”

When she found out that she exceeded her goal, Sandhya was incredibly surprised, as were her parents. “They were happy,” she said. “I don’t think they expected me to get that high a score.”

And the support she received at home was really good, as her parents did not interfere with her studies. This young lady would have study sessions with friends before exams where they would compile questions together and do past exam papers. Sandhya would also make notes after every lesson and always ask questions in class to eliminate any doubts. Her hard work has now paid off, and Sandhya is looking forward to specialising in the field of medicine, and possibly joining a university in Queensland. Naturally, her clarinet will go with her!

Enjoying the challenge

Sahil Relan from North Sydney Boys School likes competition and for him, the HSC posed one of the greatest challenges of his young life. “Enjoying a challenge and having future goals is a great benefit,” says Sahil. He used his future goals to help him choose his subjects for the HSC. “I have always wanted to keep engineering and medicine on an open scale in terms of my career path, so I chose chemistry and physics, as those were the prerequisite subjects,” he explains. “But my interest in science subjects also came from the fact that they were difficult, and I wanted to challenge myself.”

Sahil’s subjects: Chemistry, Mathematics Extension 2 and Physics, in particular, are all high scaling. “Pick subjects that you know will scale well,” he says to future HSC students, “the challenge is worth it!”

Healthy competition with close friends at school also helped Sahil as they were supportive of each other and tried to   collectively get their school to the top.

Sahil enjoys playing sports and has a keen interest in soccer, cricket and swimming. He tried to maintain a balance between leisure and studying. “If I didn’t pursue any leisure activities, I would have suffered due to stress and overstudying,” he admits. “I tried not to get addicted to games or anything that could be a continuing distraction. I used physical activity as a balance to get my heart rate up, keep healthy and fit, and not get too distracted,” he adds.

In the future, Sahil intends taking challenges in his stride, and aims to become as successful as possible, while still enjoying himself. “People always focus on one or the other. HSC and studies are not the be all and end all, but at the end of the day you have to study as well…don’t waste your life,” he says, a mite philosophically. He intends to apply for an engineering/commerce course.

Exploring the world

With the HSC now in the past, Cherrybrook Technology High School graduate Nikhil Kankarla, is now looking forward to seeing the world and starting life after high school. Nikhil, who received an ATAR of 99.55, says that he is hoping to get into a mechanical engineering/commerce course at UNSW, but isn’t looking way too far ahead.

Right now Nikhil has Europe on the mind as he is hoping to travel there soon. “I have always had a fascination with the continent, and I have never been to a place that snowed,” he says. “I hope all my preconceptions about Europe, based on movies and TV shows, are real and that it is as good as I expect it to be,” he adds enthusiastically.

Nikhil is also looking for an internship or professional work in the engineering field to gain some experience.

While this young man was expecting a 99+ ATAR and was happy to have lived up to his expectations, he was surprised to discover that he had come 9th in the state in Business, as he thought it was his weakest subject. “My parents were really happy with my results, but I think they would have been fine regardless of what I achieved, as they saw me put in the effort,” he says.

Although Nikhil had only been in Australia a few years, his English skills are very good and he realised that he could cope well with Advanced English. He also tried to vary his subjects from maths and science, by choosing business studies. “I had a bit of an interest in business and commerce,” he said. “I thought I’d mix it up a bit and give it a try.” And what a try it’s been!

Nikhil’s now enjoying his break, living for the moment and hanging out with friends. And he certainly deserves it, as all the hard work has definitely paid off.

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