Advice From HSC Achiever: Toby Schooley

Ms Jenny Pollock | Deputy Curriculum | Grammar News | 1 April 2022


Earlier this month at the Week 6 Tuesday Assembly we invited 4 students who undertook last year’s HSC exams, to offer advice to future HSC students. Below is the advice offered by one of the students.  


Toby Schooley participated in our Talented Athlete Program throughout Years 11 and 12. He had a gruelling training schedule and competed at National level in kayaking. Last year in May 2021, Toby competed in the National Kayak Championships in South Australia and placed 1st in two events. He returned to School the following week for the Year 12 Term 2 Assessment Week, undertook major assessments in his five subjects and achieved very pleasing results.


Throughout lockdown in Term 3, he had to maintain his training schedule in preparation for forthcoming kayak championships, in addition to keeping on top of his studies. In the HSC, Toby achieved a strong ATAR above 90, with 3 x Band 6 results and 2 very high Band 5s. He is now studying a Bachelor of Construction at UTS and has also just been selected for the Under 23s National Kayak team.


Toby found the following planning and time management strategies enabled him to prepare effectively for exams while keeping up with training schedules:

  • Using his School Diary, setting daily study quotas
  • Installing study apps Forest/Flora whilst studying at home to help him manage digital distractions; completed 1-2 hour chunks or revision then took a 25 min break and repeated
  • Making lists of what tasks needed to be done that day/night & prioritising
  • Having a night off each week which provided a break in the routine


Toby offered the following tips for students who have a heavy sporting commitment but are keen to maintain good academic results:

  • Keep up the sporting commitment even throughout the HSC years as it is a familiar activity that isn’t School or study. It can be an “HSC free space” and the exercise and time-out helps reduce the stress. However, if sport itself becomes a source of stress then students should think about dialling it back as they don’t need more stress, especially in the HSC year.
  • Research what is available to you at Uni. Universities have great sports programs such as the Elite Athlete Program which provides funding, free gym access and you can negotiate the dates assignments are due during Uni. Students should also find out about the bonus ATAR points. For example, at some universities, elite athletes can be granted up to 5 bonus points which can help reduce HSC exam stress.
  • Knowing what to prioritise and when; Sport will always be there for you but the HSC year is a “one-time thing” so students should keep that in mind. Athletes might need to back off their training in the lead-up to and during the HSC Exams.