HSC exams begin following unprecedented year for students

TESTING TIMES: Parkes High School Year 12 students Faith Hanstock and Nicole Hessel are remaining calm ahead of the start of their HSC exams tomorrow. Photo: Christine Little
TESTING TIMES: Parkes High School Year 12 students Faith Hanstock and Nicole Hessel are remaining calm ahead of the start of their HSC exams tomorrow. Photo: Christine Little

In a year that Parkes High School captain Faith Hanstock said "none of us saw coming", HSC students from across the shire, and the country, have experienced a range of emotions in 2020.

And much more than usual for a pupil in their final year of schooling, which at one point left many worried whether or not they'd be able to graduate.

Crazy, stressful, sad, the unknown - are just some words that come to mind for Faith.

But the Year 12 student has praised the support of her school and teachers during this coronavirus pandemic year.

"Whether we liked to admit it or not, I think all of us were somewhat worried with how well we'd go home-schooling," Faith said.

"We were lucky enough to have amazing teachers and a year advisor that were there to help us with everything.

"It was very stressful and at some point a bit sad when some traditions for Year 12 couldn't happen or they were heavily adjusted due to government guidelines.

"In other aspects it made some of the experience easier, such as applying for university."

And like most HSC students, Faith said she and her peers were relieved when they heard no student would repeat in 2020.

"We were definitely happy we wouldn't have to stay another year, but it upped the stress a bit when it meant we'd have to work a lot harder to stay on top of everything from home," she said.

Now there are just a matter of weeks left as 75,000 students sit their HSC exams, the first - English Paper 1 - taking place tomorrow morning.

Faith and her close friend Nicole Hessel are trying to remain level-headed ahead of their exams.

"We're a little nervous but at the same time I don't care what happens - you can still get somewhere," Nicole said.

In preparation, the girls have been attending holiday study sessions and revision classes with their teachers, on top of studying at home.

They've been completing practice exam papers and have a few tricks up their sleeve to help them remember information, such as using palm cards and highlighters to link each topic with a colour.

The pair will be tackling their most dreaded exam first, English - Advanced English for Faith - but are both looking forward to their community and family studies paper.

Nicole will be later sitting her biology and PDHPE exams, while Faith has both modern and ancient history papers.

They have also both been given conditional offers for university study, meaning if they reach a certain ATAR, they are guaranteed entry.

They hope to attend Charles Sturt University, with Faith aiming for Bathurst to do a Bachelor of Communications, specialising in journalism, to one day become a reporter. And Nicole is aiming to go to Wagga to complete a Bachelor of Nursing.

Ahead of tomorrow's exam, Faith and Nicole would like to pass on these words to their peers.

"Just go with the flow, there's no point in stressing over it. Like our teachers say, there's always another path," Nicole said.

"Don't let your ATAR define you. Good luck and you'll smash it!" Faith said.