If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve managed to pull yourself away from Fallout 4 for a few minutes of fresh air of Facebook checking and some Nuke Cola from the fridge!

I’m not your mother – I’m not here to tell you NOT to play Fallout 4.

I am, in fact, here to tell the exact opposite: How Fallout 4 Will Help Your HSC.

Don’t believe me?

The week of my English Advanced Trials, Halo: Reach came out, and guess what I got to do the night before? Yup, I played Halo: Reach, and I came out with a very pretty 98/100.

Why was I able to play Halo: Reach every night before my Trials? Because I developed self-discipline and adopted the 25:10 Principle.

Why is self-discipline important?

During the HSC, it is important to maintain having a ‘life’, because if you don’t, you’re setting yourself up to become a wretched snivelling ball of emotions.

When it comes to HSC State Rankers, there is one behavioural trait which defines them all: self-discipline.

Self-discipline in how your prioritise your study and life allows you to be more productive and efficient with your time.

Most HSC State Rankers do no more than 2 hours of a night, but when they study, they study. When they take a break, they take a break.

I hate studying but I still got 98.7 for my ATAR.

Even now, I absolutely hate studying and I’m undertaking a law degree, one of the most laborious degrees you can possibly ever pursue.

Trust me, I would prefer to sit and stare at a wall before sitting down to study.

It is for this reason that I had to adopt the 25:10 Principle during the HSC in order to get any study done.

What is the 25:10 Principle?

The 25:10 Principle is simple: for every 25 minutes of study, you give yourself 10 minutes of video gaming time at the conclusion of your day’s studying.

I developed this from the Pomodoro Time Technique to give myself motivation to get the boring stuff (i.e. studying) done so that I could do the more interesting stuff (i.e. Halo: Reach). The 25:10 Technique gives you an actual incentive to get stuff done!

Step 1: Write down your immediate tasks for the evening.

When you come home from school, you’ll probably have written in your diary a few things that you already may need to do. Write these all down at the most basic level. For example, here’s how you would split up writing a practice essay about Trotsky:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 11.53.05 AM

Thus, you’ll have the following things for Modern History to complete:

  1. Go through 2014 HSC Modern History past paper
  2. Refer to syllabus and use HSC verbs table to construct question
  3. Construct Trotsky essay framework with sources
  4. Write essay
    • Intro
    • Paragraph 1
    • Paragraph 2
    • Paragraph 3
    • Conclusion
Your turn! 

Write down what you need to complete and write out the tasks you’ve developed from it!

Step 2: Estimate how long each task will take and place 5 minute breaks between them

Give yourself an approximation of how long each task will take. This will help you to fit it into the 25 minute intervals:

  1. Go through 2014 HSC Modern History past paper – 10 minutes
  2. Refer to syllabus and use HSC verbs table to construct question – 15 minutes
  3. Construct Trotsky essay framework with sources – 25 minutes
  4. Write essay
    • Intro – 10 minutes
    • Paragraph 1 – 15 minutes
    • Paragraph 2 – 15 minutes
    • Paragraph 3 – 15 minutes
    • Conclusion – 10 minutes

TOTAL: 1 hour 55 minutes

Your turn! 

On your list, allocate an approximate amount of time you need for each. As you complete each one, write how long it actually took you for future reference!

Then you break it up into your evening:

TIMESTUDY ACTIVITY
4:00pmGo through 2014 HSC Modern History past paper (10 mins)
Refer to syllabus and use HSC verbs table to construct question (15 mins)
4:25pmBreak
4:30pmConstruct Trotsky essay framework (25 mins)
4:55pmBreak
5:00pmIntro (10 minutes)
Paragraph 1 (15 minutes)
5:25pmBreak
5:30pmParagraph 2 (12 minutes)
Paragraph 3 (12 minutes)
5:55pmBreak
6:00pmConclusion (10 minutes)
Mark using HSC Marking Criteria (15 minutes)
6:25pmBreak
6:30pmTIME
6:55pmFOR
7:00pmFALLOUT
7:25pm4
7:30pm!!!

Step 3: Prepare necessary materials

Nothing slows you down other more than having to find what you need. Before you start your study session, prepare all the materials you need: notes, textbooks, pencils, laptop/tablet…

Make sure they’re in reach so you’re not getting up and going in and out.

Milana has a great article on setting up your ideal study space here!

Your turn!

Stack what you’ll need for each task so that when you move to your text task, you can just grab what you need, and remove things that can be a distractor like your smart phone or tablet.

Step 4: Start up the Pomodoro app and get started!

I use the official Pomodoro app for iOS which I have on both my Macbook, iPad and iPhone. You can get it for Android too. It is $1.99, or you can get the lite version for free.

Customise it so that you have 25 minute blocks and 5 minute breaks.

You can have a long break at 4 ‘Pomodoros’ (25 minute working blocks), but I usually set mine after 6.

IMG_8949

IMG_8948

Once you’re done customising, off you go!

Step 5: As you work through the evening, allocate 10 minutes of recreational time!

Thus, your evening should look like this:

TIMESTUDY ACTIVITYTOTAL VIDEO GAME TIME ACQUIRED
4:00pmGo through 2014 HSC Modern History past paper (10 mins)
Refer to syllabus and use HSC verbs table to construct question (15 mins)10 minutes
4:25pmBreak
4:30pmConstruct Trotsky essay framework (25 mins)20 minutes
4:55pmBreak
5:00pmIntro (10 minutes)
Paragraph 1 (15 minutes)
30 minutes
5:25pmBreak
5:30pmParagraph 2 (12 minutes)
Paragraph 3 (12 minutes)
40 minutes
5:55pmBreak
6:00pmConclusion (10 minutes)
Mark using HSC Marking Criteria (15 minutes)
50 minutes
6:25pmBreak
6:30pmTIME
6:55pmFOR30 minutes
7:00pmFALLOUT
7:25pm40 minutes
7:30pm!!!

Step 6: Get more done!

Essentially, once I completed a cycle of 25 minutes of study and 5 minutes break, I gave myself 10 minutes for the end of the evening to playHalo: Reach.

If I didn’t clock 25 minutes of study, I didn’t get the 10 minutes of Halo: Reach time.

Ultimately, nobody was stopping me from playing my Xbox, but when I got to playing, it was guilt-free with the knowledge that my HSC would not suffer.

After all, a short term sacrifice can be a long term gain. 

But even I know you can’t just plan an hour of Fallout 4.

I know.

I played through the whole of COD: Advanced Warfare in two block sittings because I couldn’t just play it for an hour here or there.

The perk of the 25:10 system is that it’s all on you to get your work done – you reward yourself for what you honestly complete.

25 minutes isn’t that long, and if you know what you’re going to do à la Step 1, you’ve got your whole evening set out!

It takes a while to get into a routine, but with Fallout 4 just dropping, you’ll have some practice before Star Wars Battlefront and Just Cause 3 come out!

So before you head back into the Wasteland, remember to eat, drink some Nuke Cola and get some sleep! Good luck!

Will you continue to play video games during the HSC?

[dilemma id=3851][/dilemma]

Elizabeth Goh isn’t a fan of writing about herself in third person, even if she loves writing. Elizabeth decided she didn’t get enough English, History or Legal Studies at Abbotsleigh School for her own HSC in 2010 so she came back to help others survive it with Art of Smart Education. She’s since done a mish-mash of things with her life which includes studying a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University, working for NSW Parliament, and is currently at the University of Vienna, Austria on academic exchange.