Andre Thomas graduated Captain of St Euphemia College in 2019 and achieved 1st, 2nd and 3rd state rankings in Economics, English Advanced and Legal Studies alongside a 99.95 ATAR.
Economics was my favourite subject in the HSC as it gave me a toolkit to grapple with contemporary real-world events that were happening around me. Whether it was understanding how Trump had bestowed economic influence through a simple tweet or attaining a deeper understanding of my beloved FIFA Ultimate team player markets, economics always lit alight an unprecedented spark in me.
On a performance front, meticulous goal setting is critical, whilst some fall on a successful path by serendipity, most do so through a carefully planned out and contingent plan to success.
During HSC, at the start of each term, I set up a simple framework of sticky notes on my bedroom wall, as a vision board that outlined every single task I wanted to achieve by every single week in a term. A board that I constantly added to as weeks approached. I have attached a preliminary example of the board at a point in time below.
Every subject eventually appeared on this canvas, however for economics on a weekly basis, it mainly compromised of the following:
1. Reading a particular chapter from both the Dixon and Riley textbooks
2. Write notes for last week’s topic
3. Completing 20 multiple choice and 30 marks worth of short answers for last week’s reading topic using Dixon’s workbook (HIGHLY recommend as a great revision before you start prepping for trials)
4. Working through one trial paper per week
5. Listening to podcasts on the way to school everyday
Being that there was around 17 chapters, this kept me busy for the first 4 months of the year, allowed me to battle concepts not only with my understanding of them but also how to apply them- after all this is how HSC Economics is assessed, through application.
When this cycle finished, I went through all papers I could get access to and completed them – approximately 60 in total over 4 months. Sounds like a huge workload however I had a very specific way through which I attacked papers to maximise the value I drew from them and worked SMARTER not HARDER.
Attack plan for Past papers
I always timed my multies and aimed to complete them within 15minutes. The rationale for this was that if I could condition myself to work through tangled concepts quickly by the time I hit HSC I would be able to take longer if I needed. At the start I struggled to finish in this time frame, however this gradually improved.
Multies are a lot of people’s HSC pitfall, I did as many as possible to make sure it wasn’t mine.
2. Short Answers
I always dot pointed what I called “buzz words” and key elements to an answer. I saw full sentences as a waste of time, rather by doing this, by looking at a question and the marking scheme I would position myself as a marker and dot point where I would be awarded marks + more.
I only wrote 7 essays in my HSC experience; 1 assessment, 2 in my trial, 2 in class practise and 2 in my HSC. Unlike English, economic essays are not a test of articulation, rather they award you for your ability to connect dots and create causal links across your whole syllabus. Hence, my study involved doing just so, scaffolding all 4 essays that a paper would provide, ensuring my arguments, trends and data were able to withstand any question posed in front of me on HSC day.
In my opinion, writing essays outdoes churn significant time, and the opportunity cost of this at the end of the day is your other subjects. Scaffolding allows you to develop your ability to tackle questions and works on your ability to draw links and understandings across the syllabus which should be the goal of doing past papers.
Good luck, remember to prioritise your mental health. A distorted mental state will always impede performance!