Advice From HSC Achievers: Charlie Tompson

Ms Jenny Pollock | Deputy Curriculum | Grammar News | 27 May 2022


In my previous two Blogs, I explained that early in Term 1, we had invited four students who undertook last year’s HSC Exams to speak at Assembly and offer advice to future HSC students. Below is the advice offered by another student, Charlie Tompson, who was one of our NESA All Rounders and achieved a Band 6 in 10 units. Charlie achieved an ATAR of 97.8 and is now taking a gap year to travel Europe, before starting a double degree in Engineering and Commerce at Sydney Uni. Charlie did accelerated Maths, doing his HSC Maths Advanced in Year 11, along with completing HSC Studies of Religion in Year 11.


I asked Charlie what kept him motivated to keep on top of his learning last year, especially through lockdown.

Charlie responded that he found it pretty hard to remain motivated last year, having to study for a much longer time period than usual because the HSC Exams were postponed due to COVID and lockdowns. He thought that what helped him the most was knowing that it was his last year of school, and if he just worked hard for that year, he would reap the rewards. He also found that the cohort was quite tight-knit towards the end of the year, knowing that they were all going through the same thing, and they kept each other motivated. They came to realise the importance of their Year Co-ordinator, teachers, and Year 12 cohort.


I then asked Charlie what were the top three strategies that he used to ensure he achieved the marks he needed across all your subjects. His responses were:

  1. Making a study timetable before Trials and HSC Exams, and focusing on making sure you spend a similar amount of time on all subjects.
  2. Keep working throughout the year and throughout each week. During the HSC you can’t afford to only study just before exams or assessments because there is just too much to catch up on and that’s how you get stressed easily. Instead, you need to be making notes or revising content after each lesson, and it might feel like non-stop work, and there will definitely be times when you can’t find the motivation to sit down after coming home from school, but it makes a big difference in the long run if you continually do little bits of work.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I was really happy with how I went in the HSC Exams but I didn’t do it without stress and without some bad days and results along the way. There were lots of days when I just couldn’t bring myself to study because I didn’t have any motivation, and I would sit on my phone for ages doing nothing. I think everyone in my year level would have experienced this lack of motivation, especially in lockdown and it's fine as long as it doesn’t happen every day. You need to have self-discipline; I ended up putting my phone away from me in the kitchen when I was studying.


Finally, I asked Charlie whether he considered doing an HSC subject in Year 11 was helpful.

He indicated that it was helpful for him in maximising his ATAR, but he admitted that spreading the HSC over two years took commitment. He explained that doing the HSC for two subjects in Year 11 meant that he got the experience of studying for and sitting HSC exams before going into Year 12, so when he started Year 12, he knew what to expect and wasn’t so daunted. It also meant that he had more study periods in Year 12 and had more time to study for fewer subjects.