3 tips to create a successful year in HSC English
As students across the state return to school for 2016 it is an especially important year for those facing the HSC in nine short months. If you are going into your final year of school not feeling super confident about English there are still some things you can do to make your year more successful, more enjoyable and less stressful – especially when it comes to exam time.
The best thing you can do is make reading your keystone habit. A keystone is the stone placed at the apex of an arch and it holds all of the other stones in place, but it also carries the least amount of stress.
A keystone habit is one that acts as an anchor and helps keep other habits that you want to develop in place. For HSC English that keystone is reading. Reading is important but it doesn’t mean it has to be boring, or that you have to face a massive tome, or spend hours deciphering Shakespeare. Research shows that even a small amount of reading, if it is regular and you enjoy it, can help improve student performance. So here are our three tips for creating a reading routine:
- Lose the screens: I have been meaning to write this post for about a week. It is only now, when I find myself in a rare moment without internet access that I have managed to get around to it. It didn’t even take me very long. The internet can be a great help to you in your studies, but if you want to build a reading habit then we all just have to get control over our screens.
- Make it a micro-habit: You can begin a health routine by doing one push up a day. And then two. And then three. And then…you get the idea. If you are not a big reader don’t set a task that is too demanding. Start with one page a day, or five minutes a day. The next day, two pages or 6 minutes. If you do it every day, it not only becomes much easier but you will be surprised how quickly you will build up to getting through a solid amount of reading.
“Habits are the closest thing we can get to having superpowers” Tynan in Superhuman by Habit
3. Be an active reader: We’ve all had the experience of reading a paragraph, getting to the end and having no clue about what you’ve just read. Reading is hard; reading is a challenge. It requires focus. Try and be physically present in your reading. That means highlight if something seems important, circle a word if it is new to you, make a note in the margin in pencil if something comes to mind – a question or a comment – even if you are not sure if it is important. These are some of the things that I do to help me not only keep reading but also to remember what I’ve read. The annotations (notes on the text) are a great tool to help you get started when it is time to write your own essay or response. You can develop your own system of annotations. The website genius.com has some good examples of how online text annotations work. Why not try adding some of your own?
Not sure where to start? There are lots of reviewers on YouTube who have listed their favourite books for 2015. Here are some ideas.
The HSC year is a busy one but making reading your cornerstone habit will help – and not only in English.