5 Tips for Preparing for the New HSC Science Syllabus (2019)

1. Learn using multiple resources

Let's be honest, the new edition of textbooks for HSC physics, chemistry and biology offer way too much information in a messy manner.

You may ask yourself 'how much information do I need to know?'

The answer to this question is that no one knows for certain, not even your teachers. While the syllabus documents required topics, it does not contain any information regarding this.  

The best way to overcome this uncertainty is to understand every topic in as much detail as possible. This is best done by re-learning or revising topics using different sources. 

Have a concept you're unsure about? Google it or search it on media-based websites such as YouTube (e.g. Physics for High-school Students) and Khan Academy. 

You can access free study notes for the new syllabus on HSC Science (Chemistry, Biology and Physics).

Benefits of this approach

Through learning from different sources, you will gain a more diverse perspective of a particular concept. Gaps in your knowledge will more likely be filled and you may develop a deeper understanding from reading or listening to a particular explanation.

2. Teach others

Textbooks form a good basis when learning science for the first time. However, remembering information from reading the textbook is not for everyone. 

Instead, teach your friends, family or even yourself the topics you want to remember. Verbally explain the concept to them and incorporate any drawings if they help your explanation.

It is important to verbalise information instead of running through them in your head because memory works better through oral communication.

Benefits of this approach

Explaining scientific concepts to others or yourself not only reinforces your understanding and memory but also exposes any knowledge gaps or misconception you have.

It is also more fun and interactive compared to reading textbooks.

4. Free flashcard software - Anki

Anki is a free downloadable software that allows you to create digital flashcards. This tip is most effective biology students but can also be helpful for all.

What is super amazing about Anki is that the flashcard's appearance frequency depends on how well you remember them.

For example, if you are finding a particular card hard to remember, it will pop-up within the next minute or 10 minutes.

You can customise numerous settings like this. Everything is free. 

Benefits of this approach

Anki is super easy to use and does not require your to write anything. Flash cards can also be shared digitally so tell your friends! 

4. Test your classmates and friends

Another way to remember and understanding scientific concepts better is to create questions for your peers. 

Calculation questions in HSC chemistry and physics can be easily created by combining random numerical values. This is actually how content creators make them!

Theory questions in science subjects are more difficult to make. You need to put yourself in examiners' shoes.

For example, the concept of strength of acids can be tested in various ways:

  1. What is the difference between strong and weak acids?
  2. Which would have more hydrogen ions/protons in solution, 1 M HCl or 1 M citric acid?
  3. Does pH provide an indication of an acid's strength?

For folks studying physics, the concept of solenoids can be tested in the following ways:

  1. Using a diagram, show the orientation of a magnetic field in solenoids.
  2. Do the opposite: what is the current direction in the solenoid when a magnetic field is shown? 

Benefits of this approach

At the beginning, creating questions is hard and may take a while but it becomes increasingly easier with practice. 

This approach is beneficial because you will be aware of any misconception when others attempt questions you have made. While creating questions, you are also indirectly revising your understanding. It's a win-win for everyone.

5. Mock exams

When you feel ready to put your knowledge to the test, you should start answering questions from past exam papers (HSC and school papers) from your own and other schools. 

But past papers contain questions from the old syllabus...

That's right but some of the new HSC syllabus is derived from the old syllabus so they are still useful to some degree.

You will be able to identify which questions are applicable for the new syllabus after you have created numerous questions for your friends.

Mock exams for the new syllabus

You can purchase HSC Science mock exam papers (digital copy). Every exam comes with detailed solutions including exemplary Band 6 responses.

We encourage students to purchase the papers as a group. This way, it is affordable and everyone has resources to study with. 

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