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Lesson 25: Preparing For The Exams

Many students think that there comes a time when they should “start” preparing for the exams. For some, “exam preparation” starts after mock exams. For others, it starts around a month before the exams. This is a misconception. If you want to give yourself the best chance of becoming a Laureate,

You should start exam preparation from Day 1!

This is the philosophy that I had during my HSC studies. Regardless of where I was in my HSC journey, I always kept the exams in my sights. I firmly believe that you need to have this long-term view if you want to succeed. So, assuming you understood and applied the principle of consistency described in a previous lesson,

Your mindset should stay the same regardless of whether you have 2 years, 2 months, 2 days, 2 hours, 2 minutes, or 2 seconds left before an exam!

This is the ultimate spirit of consistency. As I’ve said before, slow, and steady wins the race. Unfortunately, most students have this “study like crazy before the exam” mentality. This approach

  • causes a lot of stress around exam time. Stress + Exam = recipe for failure! You can easily avoid this stress by consistently studying hard during the entire 2 (or 3) years leading to the HSC exams.

  • drains a lot of your energy during exam season. Poor Health + Exam = recipe for failure! You want to be at your best shape, both mentally and physically during an exam. If you burn out just before exams, all your hard work leading to that point may go in vain.

  • can leave scars even if you do manage to become a Laureate. You will need to put an extreme amount of pressure on yourself to cram before the exams and become a Laureate.


Becoming a Laureate is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

You want to become a Laureate so that you may start and complete your higher studies. What will happen if you “damage” yourself in the process? It might all be for nothing. From my experience, university studies are a lot harder than HSC. At times, you’ll feel that HSC was a walk in the park compared to university. I left half of my first university exam blank, and it was meant to be the most “basic” exam of the degree! So, I know what I’m talking about. Therefore, you better get through the HSC exams in one piece to be able to tackle the next challenges. HSC exams can break you if you put too much pressure on yourself right before they occur. Here’s the potential cost of cramming before an exam:

Studying like crazy before the exam can make you crazy before, during, or after the exam!

This has hopefully convinced you of the importance of not exerting yourself too much before exams. I want you to become a Laureate, but I also wish you keep your physical, emotional, and mental well-being after you’ve become one. I strongly recommend you revisit Part 1: The Laureate’s Mindset when exams are close. In particular, when exams are close, you should still

  • be aiming to get full marks in all your subjects.

  • have the same burning desire to become a Laureate.

  • have full confidence in yourself.

  • remain humble.

  • remain consistent. Remember, if you are studying too much, you are violating the critical principle of consistency. Being consistent is my number one tip to becoming a Laureate without losing your health.

  • be disciplined.

  • be free of fear.

  • have faith.

  • be happy.

  • exercise regularly.

  • have proper nutrition and drink lots of water.

  • sleep 6-9 hours a day. Feel free to sleep for the entire 9 hours on weekends if you can!

Let’s face it! You’ve got nothing to worry about if you were consistent day in day out during the 2 or 3 years leading to the exams. You’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve

  • practised dozens of past papers under real exam conditions for each exam paper you are going to sit.

  • cleared all your doubts and recorded them in your Doubts Sheet.

  • asked all your questions and recorded all the answers in your Questions Sheet.

  • learnt from all your mistakes and recorded them all in your Mistakes Sheet.

  • fully understood all topics in your syllabus and were able to successfully explain them to a 10-year old kid (or someone not familiar with the topics) without looking at your notes.

  • summarised all your notes, so it becomes effortless to revise them.

In a nutshell, you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve already done all the hard work! However, there are still some things that I recommend you start doing a few weeks before exams:

  1. Go through all your doubts, questions, and mistakes again. These represent most of your weaknesses. Try to tackle exam questions related to those doubts, questions, and mistakes. Do them under exam conditions, i.e. don’t look at your notes.

  2. Go through all your syllabuses to ensure that you have not missed anything. You are responsible for ensuring that you have completed your syllabus. You can’t completely rely on teachers to complete the syllabus for you. Sometimes, you need to take matters into your own hands through self-study.

  3. Go through all your summaries. Don’t waste time going through all your notes in-depth. Only review the materials you are least comfortable with. Try to prioritise the most important topics.

  4. Quickly go through all the Mark Schemes, and Examiner Reports to make sure that you have not missed anything.

  5. Clear any remaining doubts by asking your teachers about them.

  6. Above all, make sure you are still having fun. You should still be doing the thing that makes you happy or helps you forget about your studies for a while. For me, it was playing video games and playing football.

Becoming a Laureate is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do. Most of your friends will be burning themselves out before exams, and most of them will not become Laureates.

Be different from the rest. Don’t follow the herd. Don’t burn yourself out!

Hence, the Key Takeaway is:

You don’t have to sprint at the end to finish the marathon!

Do you have any questions or comments? Post them below!

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