Advice From HSC Achievers: Zoe Lumby

Ms Jenny Pollock | Deputy Curriculum | Grammar News | 13 May 2022


In Term 1, we invited 4 students to the Tuesday 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:

Zoe Lumby topped the state in Design & Technology, with a mark of 99, and achieved an ATAR of 95.9 Her results have enabled her to enroll in Architecture at UTS. I asked Zoe about how she went about planning & time management to ensure she completed her Design & Technology Major Project in time, & refined it to such a high standard, while still achieving well across all her theory subjects.


Zoe explained that having to complete each DT assessment task by a specific date meant she had to finish certain components of the portfolio by an exact date. She found this helpful as it meant she didn’t spend too long on some parts of the task. She also found that sharing the use of a school computer to access a particular software program required her to plan ahead to book in times for use of the computer.


As Zoe had multiple components to her Major Design Project, she really had to plan well for work on each of these components to ensure they were all completed on time and to a good standard. For example, she needed to arrange with the Learning Hub in advance of the holidays to book in a time to use the Virtual Reality resources to ensure their availability when she needed them. Zoe also indicated the importance of selecting a Major Design Project that she really liked as it motivated her.


To keep on top of her other subjects, Zoe indicated that for the two subjects she found the hardest, she would send her teachers practice essays or essay plans to get their feedback. She found this helpful as it taught her how to improve her essay writing skills in addition to helping the development of her ideas for these subjects. She completed many practice papers for all her other subjects as she found this the best way to study.


I also asked Zoe about what LEARNING@STLUKE'S strategies proved to be particularly useful for her in undertaking the HSC. She explained that perseverance was very useful. Going through the COVID lockdown as a cohort meant they had each other backing them to keep moving forward. She found teachers were also a massive help as they always kept their “doors open” for the students, and clearly showed the students that they thought the students “had it in them” to finish the year successfully.


Zoe was also not prepared to give up. She didn't want to get to the end of the year and regret not having tried, so she put in as much effort as she could and kept moving forward. Additionally, she recognised the importance of knowing when enough was enough, persevering as long as she could, as long as it was sustainable. Zoe reflected:


“I know in the HSC Trial Exams our cohort started their study strong and finished not so strong. This was because the Trial Exams got pushed back so many times due to COVID and there's only so many weeks for which you can effectively study. We kept our wellbeing as one of the most important things to us, and when it was no longer viable to study for weeks on end, we prioritised wellbeing, as it's impossible to get through Year 12 without it”.

Zoe also explained that collaboration was a particularly useful disposition in preparation for her HSC exams. She found sharing notes, essay plans and past papers was one of the most helpful things she did. She found that her maths group chat was “going off” almost every day leading up to HSC exam, as they would ask each other any questions they had. When sharing notes and essay plans, she found it was very helpful to see the different ways people thought about the subject matter. She also found that peer marking was “super helpful” as it put a new set of eyes on what she had written, and they were able to go back and forth with classmates until they were happy with what had been written.