The summer break is pretty great, a chance to chill, rejuvenate yourself and have fun!
Along with that much-needed respite, you’d be wise to spend some of it studying.
Studying can be a buzz kill, I won’t lie to you and pretend it isn’t. But this study is some of the most important studying you will do in the entire year. It can set you up for success!
How often have you fallen behind and told yourself it would be different next year? Well, now you’re in Year 12, you can’t use that one anymore!
So if you feel like the Kinematics Module has gotten away from you, fear not! This HSC Physics study plan will help you revise and get a head start over the summer holidays!
Week 1: Failing to plan, is planning to fail
A phrase tooted so often, it goes in one ear and out the other. Yet, it is tantamount to your success.
You might say to yourself why spend a week planning and thinking about studying when I could be studying.
It’s a fair question, and one I’ve asked myself too. Here’s my answer: It’s about efficiency and extracting the most out of our monkey brains.
Unlike a computer, you cannot be given a task and chug away at it endlessly until it is done. A computer will not procrastinate, but you my friend, will!
As a result, the key to success is not simply to say you will study.
You must answer these questions:
- What will I study?
- How will I study?
- How will I avoid mistakes I’ve made in the past?
- How will I ensure I stay on track?
Inquiry 1: What will I study? Ask the syllabus.
Firstly, “What will I study?”, it’s a seemingly obvious question, and yet one that most students don’t ask themselves! Now I’ve droned on about syllabus audits in the past, but it is incredibly important.
I’m sick of writing about it, and perhaps you’re sick of reading about it. But the fact of the matter is, the advice is timeless. It works.
Here’s what to do:
Go through each dot point and rate your understanding on a scale of 0 to 5:
- 0 = If I was asked this in an exam, I’d get 0.
- 1 = I might scrape a pity mark for mentioning the right word
- 2 = I understand the gust of the dot point, but am unsure of some parts
- 3 = I know the answer but can’t explain it to you
- 4 = I can explain the answer but I don’t know if I can write it down
- 5 = If i was asked this in the exam, I would DEFINITELY get full marks
If a syllabus element scored 3 or less, highlight it:
Your syllabus audit could look like this:
Boom – you’ve just ID’d the exact specific areas you should spend your time tightening up your game. Flagging the high-priority areas is a way to study smart before you study hard!
If you just start on page 1 of the textbook and try and read your way to the end of kinematics, you will fail, unless you have the willpower of Superman.
This syllabus audit is the greatest hack of all time. Exploiting our inherent laziness and maximising our performance. The premise is so simple – efficiency:
Study what you need to!
That’s why we’re doing it. Even if you bail on your study, this method ensures you start with the sections most in need.
If you’ve fallen short of your study expectations in the past, don’t blame yourself! Maybe it’s not you, maybe it’s the way you’ve been studying.
If you haven’t been studying what you need to, you’ve been setting yourself up to fail. This syllabus method ensures that doesn’t happen.
Inquiry 2: How will I study? You train.
Telling yourself you’ll study is not enough. You open up your diary or calendar, and you block out hours of study throughout the week.
The week goes by and you’ve done squat. Sound familiar? We’ve all done it.
Some people find great value in blocking out study time and if that works for you that’s great. But many of you I suspect, write it down and don’t deliver.
I was one of those people. Writing down grand promises to myself I didn’t achieve, and frankly would never achieve!
If you haven’t been studying much at all and you block out 5 hours a day, and a 25 hour study week, do you honestly think it will get done?
Be honest with yourself, if you’re starting from 0, commit to half an hour each night. If you’re studying 1 hour a night, commit to an hour and a half.
Don’t push far off where you’re currently at, and expect to gain hours of productivity you never had just because you wrote it down. Unfortunately, our sense of motivation doesn’t work like that.
Setting SMART goals
So, should you set goals for studying? Absolutely.
If you’ve tried writing down goals in the past and found them pointless, its worth investigating whether you wrote SMART goals.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and have Time constraints.
Inquiry 3: How will I avoid mistakes I’ve made in the past? You change.
The syllabus audit is great, but it relies on you being honest with yourself and really knowing yourself!
Even if you think you’re being 100% honest, knowing what you don’t know is intrinsically a difficult problem.
If everyone knew exactly what they didn’t know studying would be easy, wouldn’t it? Everyone would just study their gaps, waste no time on things they’ve already got down pat, and would ace all the exams.
There is a way to get objective proof of what you don’t know though. Your past exams!
They can be painful to look at, but you’ve got to go over them with a fine-toothed comb. Find every question where you made a mistake. Don’t take “it was a silly error” for an answer.
Ask yourself why you made the mistake, ask yourself how you can stop yourself making it again! In a sense, they contain your most valuable intel.
It will happen again unless you ensure it doesn’t
In my first exam, I made a “silly error” forgetting to convert kilometres to metres. The fact is, it wasn’t a silly error, and if I treated it as one, I’d have kept making the same mistake.
I “checked” the exam after I had finished, but I still got it wrong. You must have done exams where you ‘check’ your work, and yet when you get it back there are silly errors everywhere. Why?
Did you not know the content? Well, let’s think about it. If you called it a silly error, odds are the cause is something else!
Whatever it may be, you need to find out what it is and introduce new checks into your system so they don’t happen again.
For me, this involved writing all numbers in SI always. If I read 10km, I would write 10*10^3 m.
That silly error would not occur again. Why? Because I didn’t simply hope it wouldn’t happen again, I did something about it.
For help on going through those exams, and really learning from your mistakes, you can read this article!
For more help on deciphering teacher feedback read this!
Inquiry 4: How will I ensure I stay on track? You will.
This seems to be the hardest question to answer, but surprisingly it’s quite the opposite. You will.
This is a redundant inquiry. It’s merely a safety measure to ensure you’ve followed the study plan so far.
So, if you have identified: exactly what you need to study, why you’re going to study it and take notes of past mistakes and ways to stop them; that’s all the motivation your brain needs. You have the vision, goals and desire — chase it.
Week 2: Catching up
Another common statement I’ve heard: “I’ve already been assessed on Kinematics, I don’t need to study it.” This couldn’t be more wrong.
The odds of Kinematics being involved in the second assessment task, potentially a depth study: 95%
The Kinematics module will most definitely be assessed in your Trials.
I hope it goes without saying, that they aren’t going to exclude a whole module in the final exam either!
Furthermore, think about when information is freshest in your mind. Now, or in a few months?
Even if you zoned out in class, just by attending, odds are some of that information is somewhere in your head. Zoned out in class is better than not in class for a reason, attendance osmosis I call it.
If you revise now, some of that information might come out of storage.
Priority #1: Patch Major Gaps
Using the audit you made, find all those low scoring dot points and remedy them at once!
If you’re really far behind don’t be afraid to ask for help. Email your teacher your questions, they will be happy to help.
If you’re struggling to get in touch, it may be worthwhile getting help externally; an Art of Smart tutor can help go through your syllabus audit, and tailor lessons and study plans for you!
As you rebuild your knowledge you must write it down, in your study notes. If you don’t have study notes, get started now!
Priority #2: Completing your study notes
Write by hand and digitally
Write your notes by hand. Yes, it is more effort, yes it’s still worth it. It will improve your retention.
Diagramming and maths are also just easier with good old fashioned pen and paper.
You should also keep a digital copy on something like google docs, that you can access anywhere and easily edit and share.
If you have a tech-savvy teacher or tutor this is a great way to get feedback.
Organise by dot point use the inbuilt heading styles
Don’t go rogue and make your own headings. The syllabus headings don’t just serve an aesthetic purpose, they make formatting easier.
Use the headings provided in the syllabus and then customise the formatting. This way if you decide to change the design later the whole document will easily change.
Write your notes as an answer to the dot point
When writing your notes, don’t waffle! Don’t include extraneous information.
Include exactly what you need to get a band 6 in an exam, no more, no less.
Include and emphasise things you don’t understand
If there’s ever something you didn’t understand, that you do understand at a later point. Write down what you found confusing, and why it is confusing no more!
This will be worth the effort. Odds are, the things you find confusing now, you will find confusing before trials and the HSC.
If you record your revelation and breakthrough, you can have them again during crunch time in case you forget.
Week 3 & 4: Get polishing!
You know what you’re doing, you know how you’re doing it. Your notes are in order, and you’ve patched the gaping holes. You’ve done all the construction.
You have a good platform, now it’s time for some sanding and varnish, to get everything nice and shiny before the term begins.
Now go through that audit, and notes from your exams again. Pick off the dot points with the lowest scores, until you have as many high scores as possible.
Remember: Always work on the lowest scoring dot points. Don’t spend time lifting 4s to 5s if you still have 3s floating about. there are bigger fish to fry!
Week 5: Get started on Dynamics
Finally, once you’re all done polishing you can get started on Dynamics which is pretty loaded.
It’s a great way to get an overview of all the things you’ll be covering. You should get started preparing for Dynamics, staying one move ahead of the game is an incredible place to be.
The class at school becomes revision instead of confusion, and everything just clicks in place.
Your uptake is on adrenaline if your brain already has pieces of the information!
There’s an added leg-up at work here as well: Dynamics builds directly on top of kinematics, with the skills you’ve been honing in your review of Kinematics in weeks 1 – 4 of the holidays.
That means you hit the ground running. Your peers, instead, will be all rusty on the tools they need to use to learn Dynamics when term starts!
Now go through the syllabus and copy all the dot points over into your notes so you’re ready to start taking notes, it will make the process as frictionless as possible.
Finally, pick up your favourite textbook and note down the important points. When term begins you can update these notes.
It’s also worthwhile showing these notes to your teacher to get a second opinion on the information and to make sure you haven’t missed anything major.
Week 6: Take a break!
Kick back and relax, you’ve earned it!
This study plan will definitely help you prepare over summer! But if you’re still keen to get ahead on HSC Physics…
We have heaps more HSC Physics content to help you get that Band 6!
If you have any more questions about HSC Physics, we’ve probably answered them in our HSC Physics FAQ article!
Want to smash the extended response style questions? You can find out What Makes a Band 6 Response here!
Finally, if you’re all set, and just want some questions you can find the Master List of HSC Physics Past Papers here!
Looking for some extra help with HSC Physics?
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Vamsi Srinivasan is looking to uncover the next hidden truth of the universe. He was fascinated by the beauty of Physics and Mathematics during his HSC. Now, he’s in his third year of a dual degree in Physics/Computer Science. Vamsi wanted to share his passion for Maths and Physics and has been an Art of Smart coach for the past 3 years. He coaches students in Physics as well as all ranges of HSC Maths from General to Extension 2. Also, in his spare time you can find him watching Tennis or listening to his favourite podcast ‘Hello Internet’.