Everyone knows one of the best ways to study for the HSC is to do past papers. It helps develop your recall of information, forces you to practice writing answers, think about examples and helps identify places of weakness.
How do you do past papers?
The best way to do past papers is to mimic the exam room as much as possible. Find a table, sit there for the entire 3 hrs and 5 minutes (don’t forget the reading time) and complete the past paper… that means write full answers by hand not on your computer. Don’t use any notes or take a break. Don’t answer your phone or check your messages or notifications. Just sit there and complete the exam.
What to do after the past paper is complete
Once you have completed the past paper, you need feedback. The best feedback you can get is probably from your teacher or tutor. But it is important that you also mark your own answers using the marking criteria and sample answers from the NESA website.
Marking your multiple choice is easy. But as you move into the short answers and longer answers on the two cores you will need to make sure you continue to refer to the marking guidelines and sample answers, which may be in the one document or separated, depending on the year of the paper. This will become even more needed as you shift to the option questions, which are always worth 8 and 12 marks.
Make sure as you mark your past paper that you have the syllabus and your notes open. Check your answer and ensure you meet the requirements of the marking criteria. If you don’t, take a moment and redo the question to a standard you think will get 100%! At this point you can use your syllabus and notes to make the plan, but you should still rewrite the answer without looking back to these notes as this will help your brain to develop the neural pathways needed to recall the information faster and clearer next time.
Check that your answers to the past paper are structured well and that they match the marking rubric, especially for extended response and option questions. If you are unsure how to do this check out these articles here and here.
Remember the more past papers you do the better prepared you will be for your actual HSC exam. You should attempt as many as possible, but remember the syllabus changed in 2010, so some questions may be different if you use pre-2010 exams. If you happen to run out of past papers, ask your teacher for past trial papers. They should have a pile of them that they can give you so you can continue to practice with new questions.
Why are past papers so important?
This answer should be fairly clear, but in case it is not, the answer is because that is how you will be assessed at the end of the year! It is that basic. You cannot expect to become a better basketballer without actually playing full basketball games, or to be the best marathon runner without ever doing an actual marathon before the competition. The best way to train is to mimic the final event. If you notice key areas of weakness during your first past paper, then you can spend time on just this section, making mindmaps, going over flashcards, or whatever helps you to gain this understanding needed, but then you must return to the papers, just as you would return to the games, matches or competitions if you were training for a sport. This is how you will improve and refine. It is how you identify weak areas of knowledge to help all your other study as well.
Where to find HSC PDHPE past papers
You can access all HSC PDHPE exam past papers here. The individual pages should have all the other documents that go with it, including examiners notes, marking criteria and sample answers (though some times the criteria and answers are in the one document).