Five ways to get through Hell Week

The weather is getting warmer. The holidays are near. Yet, as a Year 12, one can’t enjoy the optimism that spring and temporary relaxation promises. Why? Because for Year 12s all across Victoria, they will experience the infamous ‘Hell Week’ before the September school holidays. 

What is Hell Week? It’s a culmination of all of the recent work that Year 12 subjects force upon students and in the space of five dreaded days, schools schedule the final SACs for each subject along with other practice exams. Nightmarish stories dictate that some students have up to four SACs on the one day, with others on the surrounding days to ensure peak stress. For the frenzy that is Hell Week, here are five tips from my experience to help any future students.

Manage your time well

Considering it is highly likely that there will be multiple SACs on one day, organisation is key. When notified of the dates of SACs, it is extremely helpful to note these down and to work out how much time should be allocated to each subject. Personally, I had English after school on a Wednesday, followed by Psychology and Legal Studies on the next day. To give myself enough time to start remembering and consolidating content for each subject, I made ‘Quizlet’s’ for each subject and started going over the flashcards a week before the SACs. This was helpful, as it allowed me to memorise the necessary knowledge earlier in the week so that I could spend the days before the SACs going over practice questions and essays, as well as gathering feedback and ensuring that I covered every aspect of the coursework.

Don’t just constantly study – allow for breaks

To make sure that the previous point is effective, the brain needs some respite. I can’t stress enough how important having breaks are, whether this is in the form of sport, video games or music, as it can be incredibly helpful in regards to absorbing content. Don’t skip training because you feel like you have to study. Don’t refuse to watch a small amount of television or play video games for half an hour. Believe it or not, it may be even more benefit to your study efforts to take a break and just let the information ‘sink in’, so then you can apply it to practice questions.

Talk to your friends

Mulling over during Hell Week isn’t an exclusive experience. Every Year 12 in Victoria will complete it at certain times during the start of September and each student in your cohort will be going through it at the same time as you. Therefore, communicating with your fellow strugglers can provide a different perspective on subject matter or simply offer a distraction from the stresses of the week. 

Use rewards – yet always look over information before you sleep

It is rare that a person genuinely enjoys being slumped over a desk, constantly writing and studying content that is boring at the best of times. Therefore, try and change it up to provide motivation. Similar to break times, the motivation to study hard differs for each person. It could be a game, an episode of a show or some YouTube videos, but using this as a goal encourages students to work hard first, and relax after. These distractions are dangerous if they detract from your study, so make sure you’re earning them. However, after enjoying these rewards, an easy and surprisingly efficient way of remembering mass amounts of content is to quickly read or re-write information just before you head off to bed and relax. This means that the content is in your brain as you sleep, and will be consolidated and recalled easier upon waking up.

Put it all into perspective

SACs and ATARs are acronyms considered life-defining, associated with getting into jobs and courses that you want, and that you only get one shot at. Yet it’s important not to let the anxiety of Hell Week freak you out. SACs don’t define your ATAR, and aren’t as consuming and important as they are made out to be. Stuffing up one SAC won’t ruin your chances at getting into ‘that course’ or ‘that job’. Even getting a lower ATAR then you expected won’t mean you can never go into the career you want. Once you finish Year 12, ATAR and SAC scores are as irrelevant as any other high school test results. So don’t let it scare you into tears and intense doubt. Everyone is capable and just finishing SACs forever is something to be incredibly proud of. 

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