Those who are about to HSC

Speaking to some of our Year 12s on the weekend, I noticed a variety of attitudes, with only about 2 weeks left before the Moment of Truth.

Some students seemed pretty relaxed – either they know they’ve got it in the bag, or they don’t care, or they’re pretty good actors. Others though, were definitely showing the signs of beginning to crack up. So I thought this time I might see if I couldn’t bring a little cheer into this momentous period of their lives. If you’ve already been through all this, please let your younger fellows know that there IS indeed life after the HSC…

Now some of you may be aware (I don’t mention it that often) that I very strongly believe in that profound Biblical doctrine that is best summed in these words:


You will immediately recognise that my main Biblical foundation for this dogma is James 1:2

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials

Now some have very foolishly doubted the link between this verse and the HSC, but it seems as clear as the nose on my face to me (please disregard the times when there is a pimple on my nose and it is anything but clear). “Trials”, as you all know, are the last set of exams Year 12 students do before sitting their major Final Exams. That St James, back in the First Century AD, was aware of this is made very obvious if we consider some more verses from his Epistle. For example:

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: (1:1) is a very obvious reference to the HSC, being a test for Year “twleve”, which is conducted all over the state, with some students even sitting the exam at overseas centres – hence, scattered abroad. Later, he writes:

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience(1:3)

Ahhhh. What is it now that produces patience? “testing”!!! How much plainer can he make it? Clearly this word, “testing” is to be identified with exam centres, and supervisors, and exam papers – all that stuff we associate with the word. And there’s more:

9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. (1:9-11)

This is obviously a reference to the total worthlessness of your HSC mark once you have left school. Employers don’t care too much about it, and even universities are now steering away from using it as the criterion for choosing their students, preferring instead to depend on more accurate measures like UMAT (= Unrelenting Mental Agony and Torture) exams or interviews. Yes, the richest of UAIs will quickly fade away like a beautiful flower burned by the hot noonday sun of competition in the real world. Isn’t that a comforting thought!

Why, then, I hear you ask, must we suffer this pain? What’s the point?

Well, the point is actually more: the points. Here are my reasons for hanging on, doing your very best until the end, and diving over the line as hard as you can:

1. For many of you, your UAI will decide your future. Sorry. That’s life.

2. You might surprise and amaze yourself with what you can actually do if you really have to. Believe it or not, what you have to learn for the HSC is pretty measly compared with what you are going to learn at Uni, TAFE or work. The only thing that makes it seem so hard is the pressure of what’s riding on it. Take that away, and you could do it with one hand tied behind your back, with a blindfild on, and while rubbing your tummy and patting your head whilst all the time whistling “Bananas in Pyjamas” in Croatian. (please don’t comment on that sentence. It makes no sense to me, either).

3. You will learn a lot more than calculus and chemistry. You will actually develop really useful things like character, inner strength, faith, patience, calmness under pressure, stamina, self-confidence, resilience and much more. Some of the most important lessons you learn in Years 11 & 12 DON’T appear on your certificate.

4. You will enjoy your holidays an awful lot more if you don’t have a miserable dark cloud hanging over your head and following you wherever you go, with the words “You didn’t try very hard, did you?” stamped across it. It can really take the fun out of everything you do. Including sleep.

5. Many others have trod this path and run this race before you. They stuck it out to the very end – are you gonna let them get away with thinking they’re better than you??!!??

6. God loves you, no matter what.

7. We love you, no matter what.

Is that enough? I’m looking forward to seeing you all at the HSC Liturgy this Saturday 6th October 8:30-10:30an, followed by our traditional pre-exam HSC breakfast (sort of like the Grand Final Breakfast, hey?). The Fathers will be there to offer you their words of encouragement and support (and take any last minute confessions!) and to resuscitate anyone who conks out.

The days to come won’t be easy:

But there’s nothing to prevent them from being enjoyable…

By the way, for a little light entertainment, you might enjoy the following:

But don’t spend too much time watching – you’ve got work to do!!!

Fr Ant

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3 Replies to “Those who are about to HSC”

  1. I remember after the exams a few years ago, you had the year twelves gather and we had dinner. We were presented with presents. Anyway, one thing keeps lurking in my mind- it was when you mentioned a trial about how our personality settles in the few following years, and the way we choose to act in times of hardship will dictate how we will respond in later years of tribulation. You wrote something similar in your blog post. I wish I took that more to heart. It gets harder and harder to choose to do right, when temptation and past failures keep haunting you.

    For following year 12 students: the HSC is so easy compared to University exams. 😛

    You can get to whatever course you want even if you don’t get a good UAI- it will just mean doing reasonably well in University and maintaining a good GPA. There are other ways too.

    Also, as a rule of thumb, a third of people drop from the course they choose and pick up other ones.

    To those who are sick of the pressure- suck it up, it’s only a few more weeks- give it your best go.

    If the pressure gets too much, pray and do some exercise, and then get back to it.

    Also, I can’t stress how important it is to follow the syllabus! It is like the questions in the exams, really. Practice maths everyday for at least an hour or two. Those doing extension 2 maths should do 3 hours at least (a prac. exam).

    For English, there is always only one surprise- be prepared, but don’t be nervous- it will only mean a few marks at worst.

    Basically, all you are doing is familiarizing and then remembering. I find it best if you write out what you are trying to remember without referring to notes, then you are more likely to remember it.

    Anyways, GB.

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  2. I just wanted to say thank you to Abouna Antonious and the other Abouna’s. I remember doing my HSC and and thinking that I could never get through it. It was thanks to the “Grand Final Breakfast” that I kind of relaxed a bit.

    To the HSC students, trust me when I say, the worst is yet to come. Actually to be completely 100% honest, I didn’t try very hard for my HSC, and I suffered for that. I remember being so upset about my UAI. But I realised I really did deserve it. Besides it didn’t really matter. I still made it to uni. And just 2 weeks ago I graduated from a course that is now at a cut-off of about 87-89, nowhere near what I actually got.

    HSC isn’t the be all end all. Every single person who has already been through it will say that. I know it seems that way at the time, but afterwards you think, what was I really stressed about? Not getting into the course I wanted? I still got in, even after the stress. Disappointing my family? They were the loudest and proudest family at my graduation, and love me the same as they did back when I got my UAI. Disappointing myself? Yeah at the time I was disappointed, but I quickly got over it and realised what was done was done, time to live in the present and look forward to the future, and not keep looking back at my past.

    I hope sharing my experience helps.
    Good luck Yr 12, and God Bless.

    P.S. Abouna I would really like you to explain how you came up with “you could do it with one hand tied behind your back, with a blindfild on, and while rubbing your tummy and patting your head whilst all the time whistling “Bananas in Pyjamas” in Croatian”…lol…=)

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  3. Hello to all the yr 12’s 🙂

    I was reading what Abouna wrote and found it very comforting… He has a way of making you smile doesn’t he?

    Anyway, I finished HSC in 04, I’ve always been a really laid back person but most of my friends were going through breakdowns during HSC… I FEEL YOUR PAIN! It really doesn’t have to be that way though, there are plenty of alternative ways of getting into a course. Just like the others said, life does go on. I totally screwed up my HSC but I made my own path and I’m doing what I always wanted to do, despite teachers telling me to drop out. If I can do it any of you can do it! Never let anyone put you down, people are good at being negative, but it does not have to be a negative experience. Like I said, these days, there are often many ways of getting into the course you want, it may take longer but all things are possible.

    I know I’m going on and on now, so I’ll stop…but if you take anything from all my rambling, let it be this: the HSC is not difficult! It’s the stressing and the parental pressure that make it difficult, so relax, find a time out tool, take it easy n just do your best, god really will do the rest 😉 tc guys.

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