HUNTER students will hit the books with renewed gusto this weekend, with just over 48 hours to go until the marathon month of Higher School Certificate examinations begins.
A total of 8184 students across the region will put pen to paper on Monday for the first written exam, the compulsory English Paper 1, with female students making up 52per cent of this year’s cohort.
The exams count towards 50per cent of students’ final mark, which contribute to university entrance scores.
Students from Newcastle Grammar School said they had studied up to 10 hours a day during their three-week study vacation.
Most of the students have been strongly self-motivated, rising early and studying in blocks of between one and two hours, usually completing past papers.
Sophie Leitch, 17, goes for a jog before starting study by 8.30am, writing essay plans when she is most alert in the mornings and devoting three hours in afternoons to less strenuous study including note-taking, followed by another two or three hours in the evening.
‘‘I’m so excited to get it over and done with that I’ve been more motivated in the past three weeks than I have all year because I know it will be over soon,’’ she said.
‘‘I have a friend who works best between 11pm and 2am – don’t feel guilty if you’re doing something different, as long as it works for you.’’
The students have devoted their study breaks to meals, recreational reading, exercise and watching television or movies.
When needing help or feedback, they have searched online forums, emailed or visited their teachers, spoken to tutors and family members and texted friends.
Lachlan Deveridge, 18, completes most of his study at school, arriving about 7.30am and leaving at 3pm each day.
‘‘There’s less distraction here and the teachers are available to speak to.’’
They agree most pressure on their upcoming exam performance has come from within.
‘‘We want to do well and want to see what we can achieve when we give it our all,’’ Claudia Lloyd Hensley,18, said.
‘‘We want to do well for our parents and teachers, but there’s been no pressure from them.’’
The students say they had noticed symptoms of stress in themselves and their peers, including binge eating and feeling increasingly emotional, but nothing too extreme.
‘‘It’s a very stressful time – you’re putting your knowledge and ability to the test, but we try to keep in perspective that you as a person will not be defined by the number you receive,’’ Claudia Lloyd Hensley said.
Sophie Leitch, 17, said any sense of competition between classmates had disappeared following trial examinations.
‘‘We’re all working together as a team to bring everyone’s work up and sometimes we share and swap resources.’’