The HSC is a stressful time. It’s a difficult ask to balance class, assessments, exams and studying alongside extra-curricular and social activities. Nevertheless, it’s something you must learn to do.

Like it or not, you need to know how to effectively manage your time and organise during your HSC. If you lose control of your time and commitments, you run the risk of spending too much time on the unimportant stuff and not enough on the real stuff! You don’t want to get to your HSC Exams feeling like this…

Step 1: Plan it Out!

The first step in time management involves actually knowing what is going to be taking up your time. This means finding out what key dates are coming up and making a note of them. Whether you note them down in a diary or on your iPhone calendar doesn’t matter, but make sure you have them somewhere!

I recommend you get a yearly or monthly wall calendar and put it up where you can see it everyday. Get creative with it and make sure the important dates stand out!



To make your life that little bit easier, I’ve compiled some of the key dates for HSC students in 2017. But make sure you add in your internal assessment due dates, any major-work related due dates and performance dates!

Friday 7 April, 2017Last day to apply for disability provisions
Wednesday 26 April, 2017Personalised HSC Exam timetable released via Students Online
Monday 16 October, 2017HSC Exams begin
Friday 10 November, 2017HSC Exams end
Thursday 14 December, 2017HSC results released

Step 2: Make a Study Schedule

Now you know what key dates are awaiting you this year, it’s time to move from the macro to the micro with a study schedule. This will allow you to actually allocate your time each week and work towards important tasks like assessment due dates or exams in manageable chunks.

The key to a weekly schedule is to be as detailed as you can be. It’s your HSC year, and this is the time to make every hour count! Schedule in the hours that you’re at school, extra-curricular activities or part time work as well as your study time. Here’s an example of a typical HSC student’s study schedule!



To make your own study schedule, here’s a template you can download and use! Simply print it out and write in your weekly schedule!

Step 3: Learn to Prioritise

During your HSC year, you are always going to have conflicting interests. It is vital that you learn how to prioritise your tasks so that you can focus on your most important tasks immediately, and leave the less important tasks for another time.

Eisenhower Matrix

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” –  Dwight Eisenhower

While I was studying for my HSC, and even now as a university student, I found using the Eisenhower Matrix was the most helpful tool to decide what to do now and what to schedule for later! The Eisenhower Matrix helps to prioritise tasks by urgency and importance.


Of course, what is important and urgent to some, many not be urgent or important to you! So below I’ve summarised what kinds of tasks may go into which category to give you a guide when creating your own matrix. Obviously, things like assessment tasks that have definite due dates are going to be urgent and important, and things like watching Netflix and Facebook are not so important or urgent.


UrgentNot Urgent
ImportantDeadlines, important problems and crises
e.g. assessments, exam studying
Tasks that require ongoing management, including self improvement and long term goals
e.g. 'resume builders', passion projects
Not ImportantTasks that are mostly time wasters, and can be set aside or delegated
e.g. phone calls, errands
Tasks that you can ignore or limit time spent on them
e.g. Facebook, watching Netflix

Step 4: Master the Art of the To Do List

I think one of the most important skills I developed during the HSC was making good to-do lists. I prefer making a to-do list at night, as it gives me time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished during the day and what I need to focus on tomorrow. I find that to-do lists are a really simple way to motivate and reward yourself. There is nothing better than looking at your completed to-do list at the end of the day!

I suggest you use your Eisenhower Matrix to decide which items should land on your to-do list. Now, I prefer to write out my lists with pen and paper like Patrick, but there are so many apps out there that you can use to make a digital to do list, like Wunderlist or Any.Do. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you use to manage your time, the important thing is that it works for you!

Good Luck!

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Isabella Hanley loves science. She loves science so much she’s making it her career. While completing her Bachelor of Medical Science she is also a Coach, Team Leader and the Social Media Manager at Art of Smart. She is super passionate about sharing her knowledge on surviving the HSC since completing the HSC herself in 2014. In her downtime she enjoys Netflix binging like a pro, singing in the shower and baking cakes that are almost as tall as she is.