It's not too late to help your child this HSC exam time.

It can be hard not to project your higher school certificate exam stress onto your children. Sometimes even the most well-meaning parents who only want to help their kids in any way they can get it wrong.

Sure the hugs and the endless cups of tea help, but if parents really need to help then they need to find some highly effective study tips to recommend to their children. That way every minute spent studying and practicing and preparing is of value, leaving them time for sleep, relaxation and activities that help them unwind, all of which aids them to deal with exam stress.

If there is one tip you can share with your children in the lead up to higher school certificate exams it is to study using a pen and paper.


According to a survey of past students, studying using paper-based notes and a pen is the most effective study method when it comes to exam prep. Top-performing students swear by the paper and pen method, even printing material to help them learn.

The findings, by Canon Australia and published in their Paper Is Mightier Than The Screen study guide, technology diverts, distracts and frustrates during study time. More importantly, by viewing material online students often fail to properly engage with the information.

Rowan Kunz, a former High School Certificate (HSC) student in 2004 who scored a near-perfect UAI of 99.6, has since spent eight years researching how Australia’s top students achieve high scores. All of his findings can be found in the book Secrets of HSC Success Revealed.


When it comes to dealing with exam stress there’s tea and biscuits, but there’s also stress-reducing yoga. Article continues after this video.

His top tips are:

  1. Print all of your notes and the syllabus for each subject;
  2. Go through the syllabus for each subject and figure out what you most need to work on;
  3. Print out your study notes and using a pen and paper write out key points;
  4. Write information out three times using paper and pen to help retain the information;
  5. Try and teach what you have learned to someone else to help you process it;
  6. Work on past papers, at least three.

So while technology serves a purpose when it comes to accessing and collating information, that’s when it’s usefulness ends when it comes to exam preparation. Thanks to this information we can be so much more effective in how we help our children make the best use of their time.

I should mention that I didn’t do any of this during my higher school exams twenty years ago but I sure wish I did. My mum’s idea of helping me was to bring me an endless stream of snacks. Poor Mum didn’t know how else to help me.