Advice From 2022 HSC Achievers: Fliss Henderson

Ms Jenny Pollock | Deputy Curriculum | Grammar News | 12 May 2023

Last term we invited 3 students to our Senior School Assembly who had undertaken last year’s HSC Exams, to offer advice to future HSC students. Below is the advice offered by another of the students.

Felicity Henderson was part of our Talented Athlete Program in 2021 and 2022. She represented at National Level for basketball and had a gruelling training schedule. In February this year, Felicity competed at the Under 20 National Basketball Championships and achieved a gold medal.

In her HSC year, Felicity was a NESA All-Rounder, achieving a Band 6 in 10 or more units. She achieved an ATAR of 97.2. She departs later this year for the USA, to take up a Basketball Scholarship to study at Columbia University.

I asked Felicity what planning and time management strategies she used to enable her to prepare so effectively and thoroughly across all her subjects while keeping up with her rigorous training schedule and Basketball competitions. Her response was, "I mainly used two things: timetables and to-do lists. I didn’t actually change my schedule in terms of cutting back on training, I think I actually trained more than I usually do during the HSC year because I used it as a break from studying.

I used a timetable each day, and I learned to understand how I study best. I am a great morning studier, but not so much at night. So I adapted my schedule to this, so I'd study in the morning train at night. Then I would use my timetable to make sure I was actually making progress and studying the right subjects in the lead-up.

The main strategy I used was to-do lists. Even though most of the time you know what you have to do, it helped me reward myself for actually making progress. I would always finish a chunk of study and feel like I didn’t really do anything but the lists sort of helped me realise I actually had done a fair amount and stopped me from getting stressed."

I then asked Felicity whether completing her HSC Maths Advanced as an accelerated student when she was in Year 11 helped her to be successful in Year 12.

"This was probably one of the best decisions, if not, the best decision I made in terms of the HSC. I went back and forth a lot deciding whether to stick with doing accelerated maths, but it made my schedule so much easier to cope with in Year 12. Having 2 units already out of the way meant I had more study lessons during the school day so I could get most of my study done during those frees and then train after school and still not fall behind."

My final question to Felicity was to ask her what tips she had for students who need to balance big sporting commitments outside of school with maintaining their learning and studies. Her response was:

"I have 2 tips:

  1. Use your resources - mainly people. I think I mainly used other people in my year level or even previous years. Your teachers are obviously there if you need help, but I found it really helpful asking other people in my year level for help when I was confused or even if I had missed School and had no idea what was going on when I came back. I think this was super helpful because it stopped me from overstressing. I also used my sister a lot just because I know she had been in the same boat so when I had those days where I'd come home with 10 different things to do in the next hour before training and there was no way I was going to get through it, I’d talk to her and she’d help me understand which ones were the most important to get through or which one will benefit me the most and then sort of work from there, even if it meant I handed things in late.
  2. Most importantly, don’t stop training. It's still really good to prioritise your study, and I think the fact I really wanted to do well academically meant I didn’t really have to worry about prioritising study. It meant I could hold myself more accountable to keep training. It's really easy to have those days where you say to yourself “I haven’t really done much study today so maybe I should just miss training and keep studying”. But I found it really helpful to use training as a break from studying and a way to reset and start fresh the next day."