3 essential tips on how to prepare for HSC Trials

With HSC Trials just around the corner, it’s essential that you’re preparing yourself properly. Whilst “Trials” is aptly named… (some students consider it harder than the actual HSC!!), the difficulty of the next few weeks is ultimately up to you. You get to decide whether you prepare properly now, or cram and pull all-nighters in a few weeks’ time. Here’s our 3 essential tips on how YOU should be preparing for Trials.


1.     Set goal ranks

Trial exams are your last chance to push up your rank in each subject. So first, write out your current rank and then your goal rank for each subject. To work out what rank you should be aiming for, have a chat with your teacher or career advisor, or for a more general idea, talk to some HSC graduates who achieved your ideal ATAR and see what their ranks were for each subject.

Remember that it’s your school ranking rather than your school marks that are important to improve.

2.     Write a realistic study timetable/to-do list

Once you know what your goal ranks are, it’s time to do something to achieve them. Write out everything you need to do between now and exams to get that rank. This might include revising a certain topic, making your notes more concise, or doing practice papers – whatever you think you need, write it down! Remember that what prep you need to do will change for each subject. Focus more attention on the subjects you’re ranked lower in, rather than trying to move up one or two ranks in subjects you’re already ranked amongst the highest in the school. Remember, a difference of a few rank spots at the top end will have far less impact on your ATAR than moving up multiple ranks from the bottom end.

Once you know what work needs to be done, plan out when you will be doing it. Make both weekly and daily to-do lists that chip away at the work. By breaking your goals down, they will seem more achievable and they’re more likely to get done.


I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “practice makes perfect” – so as a part of your study timetable, make sure you schedule in time to do practice papers! First work through any past trial papers that your school provides. Your trial exams are written by your school, so to become most familiar with the level of difficulty and structure of your upcoming trials, practice any past trial papers your school gives you. If you’ve started your prep late and can’t possibly complete all the given practice papers, start with the most recent past paper and work your way backyards. The more recent papers are a truer reflection of your upcoming trials than a paper written in 2004! Lastly, completw at least some of the papers under exam conditions – this means no notes and in a timed condition. This will simulate the real exam, and will allow you to deal with time pressure and work out how much time you need to spend on each section of the exam. Your mark for this practice exam will also give you a more accurate idea of the mark you’ll get in trials, than a paper you completed with your notes.

As always, the tutors at Pinnacle are here to help. So if you have any questions about preparing for you trial exams or require additional help, don’t be afraid to ask!

Rachel SiuComment