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A Crammer’s Secret Weapon

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During year 12, our ability to balance our academic studies, social life and physical and mental wellbeing is truly tested as we are overwhelmed with a seemingly endless to-do list and various pressures to succeed. We recognise that it is difficult to keep this balancing act going, and even more challenging to get back on track after a spell of disorganisation.

The team at Ace have been through what you have and we have a plethora of knowledge to share. So let’s help you become your best self this year, starting with…sleeping better!


Catch Z’s to Get More A’s

Ah, sleep. One of the first things we sacrifice when it comes to crunch time.

In high school, I had a friend who would routinely not sleep, opting instead to take short naps throughout the night to refresh themselves. While this definitely did improve their productivity immensely, unfortunately this kind of lifestyle did not sustain them for long and they ended up burning out before the marathon that is the HSC was over.

Various scientific studies have shown that teenagers (that’s you!) need about seven to eight hours of sleep because this yields a multitude of awesome benefits to not only your academic performance, but your general wellbeing as well. Don’t believe me? Let me make my case.


Better Memory

When we sleep, our brain is able to focus on sorting through and filing away all the information we absorbed during the day. The more sleep we get, the more time our brain has to clear out all the useless information that’s cached so we can have more room for important chemistry equations and English quotes in our memory bank. This means we can learn things quicker, keep them in our brain for longer and spend less time revising and more time sleeping! Sounds pretty good to me!


Stronger Immune System

Peak academic performance demands peak physical performance! During sleep, some complex biological processes occur which involve the production of important chemicals essential to the healthy function of our immune system. Denying your body the chance to replenish this little army of defenders puts yourself at risk of catching the awful flu that is going around at the moment AND increases the time it takes to recover from it. Listen to your body! It’s begging you to sleep earlier!


Improved Mood

I don’t know about you, but waking up like a zombie isn’t an aesthetic I go for in my daily routine. Unfortunately, depriving yourself of sleep often leads to increased sluggishness and irritability, the latter leading to quite a few snappy moments with your friends and family. So, if you don’t want to be dealing with snappy chappies in your classroom or at home, share this article with your close ones and make a pact together to improve your sleeping habits! Besides, I think it is time we gave our families, both chosen and biological, some love after all the support and comfort they’ve shown us.

On a more serious note, some people find that a lack of sleep can exacerbate feelings such as sadness and anxiety. It is known that mental health issues are a real hardship with which many students struggle, and if this resonates with you, we strongly encourage you to seek professional help. In the meantime, do take the information in this article on board and focus on getting some sleep because oftentimes we can improve our mental health when we start taking care of our physical health as well.


As you’ve seen from the above points, a few hours of sleep really can make a difference to our social, physical and mental wellbeing. And while it’s hard already to keep on top of work during Year 12, maybe it is time to listen to your body and give it the deserved daily rest it needs.

Tune in next time to read about how we can go about becoming healthy sleepers!


The Importance of Study Groups

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Study groups, everyone’s heard of them and everyone knows how important they are. But what exactly are its benefits and how can we utilise study groups most effectively? There is often a culture especially in the selective school bubble where students are reluctant to share notes and cooperate for the sake of competition, instead favouring to work alone. However, whilst that may work for some students, for many of us, it is much more beneficial to work in groups. Study groups contradict that culture, encouraging teaching and questioning in small groups. 



One of the main benefits is the support and encouragements that study groups can provide. For many of you, year 11 and year 12 would be one of the hardest and most stressful years of your schooling career academic wise. A lot of that stress can come from the sheer amount of work that needs to be done. 

A study group can become a good support network. Getting support from those who are in a similar boat can alleviate some stress. Moreover, struggling students can ask questions in a less formal environment whereas ‘teachers’ also consolidate their knowledge. 

Different perspectives are of paramount importance when tackling difficult questions. These different perspectives can come in handy whenever someone is confused about a particular concept and when dealing with long response questions such as:

Evaluate the significance of the visible emission spectrum of hydrogen to the development of the Rutherford-Bohr model of the atom? (4 marks) (ACE, Light and the Atom Week 7).

Often, these questions have a very specific marking criteria and it can be quite hard to obtain all the possible marks. However, with the help of several people in your study group, those questions can be broken down and approached from different angles.


Tips for Effective Study Groups

A study group will be most effective if there is a schedule. Don’t say to ‘meet once every week’. Rather plan out which times everyone is free and make sure to go to a quiet place where everyone can discuss and focus. An empty classroom is always a good bet if you want to stay at school especially during times like lunch times. Remember to take breaks and not to go too late into the night so that everyone is still refreshed. 

Stay organised for the study sessions. Your study groups will only be as effective as the amount of effort everyone puts in. Be prepared for each session and remember to bring the essentials such as the syllabus and any relevant textbooks. Encourage everyone to be active and ask questions as difficult concepts can often be consolidated when you teach someone else. The ACE booklets provide a wealth of knowledge and there are many questions and concepts that can be discussed in a group for in the theory, PBC and tutorial sections.  

Finally, a study group is there for everyone to work towards a common goal. Treat everyone with respect and come to the sessions eager to learn. Good luck!


Using the old syllabus to prepare for the new syllabus!

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There’s no past papers for our syllabus – is it still possible to do well? Everyone knows that the key to doing well is through practising with past questions.’

We’ve all heard about the new changes to the HSC Syllabus. But what exactly has been changed, and how do we reuse old resources to prepare for our exams?

Why the change, and how is the syllabus different? 

Imagine that instead of solving mathematical equations, we were tested on the history of Pi. Although this is nice to know, it isn’t crucial for pursuing mathematics in the future. Enter the NESA Board – they have removed lots of rote-learning of scientific history and ‘social context’, and replaced it instead with more concepts of ‘true science’. This is good news for students who struggle with simply memorising and rote-learning, since it puts a higher focus on understanding the actual scientific concept.

The new syllabus can be found on the NESA website below:

It’s important to go through the syllabus dot-points to make sure you’ve covered everything that you need to know. Luckily, Ace structures it clearly for you by bolding the syllabus dot-points in the Theory section and going through each dot-point in detail, so you won’t miss out on any part in the syllabus.

Can we still use past papers?

The answer is yes. Although the syllabus has technically changed, this change is not as significant as you would think. Much of the content from the old syllabus is still recycled in the new one – you will find that when you are going through past papers, familiar questions will jump out at you. This is applicable for both Chemistry and Physics. A few are listed below:


Past HSC Question (Old Syllabus) New Syllabus Dot-Point
2004 HSC


Account for the cleaning action of anionic detergents.

(2 marks)

Investigate the structure and action of soaps and detergents

(Organic Chemistry)

2015 HSC


The graph shows the changes in pH during a titration.

Which pH range should an indicator have to be used in this titration?

(A) 3.1– 4.4

(B) 5.0 – 8.0

(C) 6.0 – 7.6

(D) 8.3 –10.0


Investigate titration curves and conductivity graphs to analyse data to indicate characteristic reaction profiles.

(Acid Base Reactions)


2010 HSC Physics

An astronaut on the Moon throws a stone from the top of a cliff. The stone hits the ground below 21.0 seconds later. The acceleration due to gravity on the moon is 1.6 ms–2. 150 m 300 m

a) Calculate the horizontal component of the stone’s initial velocity. Show your working. (1 mark)

(b) Calculate the vertical component of the stone’s initial velocity. Show your working. (2 marks)

(c) On the diagram, sketch the path that the stone would follow if the acceleration due to gravity was higher. The initial velocity is the same. (2 marks)

Solve problems, create models and make quantitative predictions by applying the equations of motion relationships for uniformly accelerated and constant rectilinear motion

(Advanced Mechanics)

2016 HSC Physics

In a thought experiment, a jet is travelling at 0.5 c relative to the ground, towards a train that is travelling at 0.1 c relative to the ground, as shown. What is the speed of the light emitted from the train’s headlight, as measured by a pilot in the jet?

(A) 0.1 c

(B) 0.4 c

(C) 0.6 c

(D) 1.0 c

Analyse and evaluate the evidence confirming or denying Einstein’s two postulates:

– the speed of light in a vacuum is an absolute constant

–  all inertial frames of reference are equivalent

(The Nature of Light)

So, whilst going through past papers, don’t stress too much if you see questions completely unrelated to what you’ve been learning. Instead, it would be more helpful to target your practice towards questions focused on a specific topic (as explained later). In terms of theory, there will be slight differences; however, there are certain broad topics that are carried over. In Chemistry, topics such as equilibrium, titration, ion testing and atomic absorption spectroscopy are carried over, albeit in more detail. For Physics, a large majority of the old syllabus remains, in particular: motion, electromagnetism, properties of light, quantum mechanics and nuclear physics. Both new syllabi, however, have a greater focus on application of knowledge. For Chemistry, this may look like more problem-solving based questions whereas in Physics many of the questions will be calculations.

How should I approach my study using a mixture of old and new syllabus resources?

We’ve compiled a list of different types of old and new resources which you can look at as the exam date comes closer.

  • Ace PBC and Tutorial Questions: These creative calculation and theory questions not only help you revise the weekly content but are also designed to inspire you to think outside the box when approaching exam questions. It is essential to complete Ace’s Tutorial questions during the week before your next lesson to further retain your knowledge. Also, the likely ‘mark allocation’ given for each question is extremely useful in giving you an idea of what and how much to include, and how to structure your responses – particularly in an exam setting with time constraints.
  • Past HSC Questions: Not all previous HSC questions will be relevant, but it is still good to have a skim through these old papers and attempt any questions targeting common topics. In particular, calculation questions from both subjects will be relevant as these have not changed from the old syllabus. Make sure to look at the marking guidelines as this provides a valuable indication of where NESA likes to allocate its marks.
  • Past Paper Questions:  Past papers from other schools can be found online through a number of website resources, such as: Here, it’s important to selectively choose the questions relevant to your study.
  • Textbook Chapter Reviews: For extra information, textbook chapter reviews will also contain extra questions, including those from the new syllabus.