The ATAR seems like the biggest deal when you’ve finished your HSC. You’ll hear people tell you that it’s not that important, that it’s not the be-all end-all. But if you’re like me, you unfortunately don’t take that advice and psych yourself up for the ATAR release day. One of my bad habits during the HSC was watching ATAR reaction videos, and in my own head, I had planned out how, where and when I would receive my results. I’ll spoil it for you – it doesn’t work out that way.
The anticipation of the ATAR can bring a lot of anxiety, especially leading up to that release date. I found that the main cause of stress was a lack of control, not knowing what outcome- especially when I had built up the consequences so much in my mind. Here are a few things that can help to calm some stress.
Remember it’s not the most important thing.
I was absolutely terrible at reminding myself that the HSC, and my ATAR, was not a life-changing, life-altering event that would decide the rest of my future. This is a really unhealthy way to view your education; instead prioritize what is actually important about finishing the HSC and receiving an ATAR. Maybe make a list of dotpoints on what IS important about the year besides your ATAR, and put it in a place where you’ll see it. Things like becoming more independent, or graduating, or completing certain subjects, or even just getting through the year. It sounds strange, but these little shifts in thinking can dramatically change your perspective on things and hopefully reduce your anxiety. If you’re feeling nervous about a negative outcome, reminding yourself of the positives can help you feel a little more in control of how you feel once the results are out.
When you find yourself getting stressed about the HSC and feeling overwhelmed, I found that the best thing was actually to step away from it all for a while and do something else. Exercise, cook, draw, play an instrument- just take some time away from the words ‘HSC’ and ‘ATAR’. If possible, remove yourself from places you associate with studying and school; maybe a walk or a train trip. Just do something completely unrelated for a little while.
Write it down or talk it out.
Journaling is a really great way to sort through all of your stress. Getting everything down on paper helps to make it all tangible. Talking or writing gets to the roots of your anxiety, and helps work out why you are so stressed about the ATAR. Is it getting into a course? Is it expectations? By figuring out the source of why everything seems overwhelming, you can focus on those reasons rather than uselessly stressing about a number that is not all that important, and by the time the exams end, something you don’t have control over.
It’s a good break between when exams end and the results come out- so make sure you have an idea of what you’ll do in this break to pass the time and ensure you don’t become a ball of stress from the waiting. Maybe going overseas, going on walks, a job – something to distract you from the lingering thought of the ATAR.