hsc english exam at Coffs Jetty high.

13 OCTOBER 2014.

Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
hsc english exam at Coffs Jetty high. 13 OCTOBER 2014. Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

HSC students 'sick, stressed, anxious' as exams continue

A LISMORE Student believes the Higher School Certificate has become a more stressful set of exams, taunting students to compete with each other for their final ranking.

The stigma around this four week exam block has become more and more intense as some Year 12 students now see it as a threat to their entire future.

With enormous pressure comes consequences, as some students across NSW suffering from major mental health issues pertaining to their HSC ranking or ATAR.

A Lismore High School student said in just her first couple of weeks of exams she has seen her peers struggle significantly as they prioritise their marks over mental and physical well-being.

"I know there has been a lot of kids who have been having really severe symptoms of sickness and illness of different types they wouldn't be having if they weren't feeling so stressed out and anxious," she said.

She believes the pressure derives from students' belief you only have this one shot to succeed.

"There is a huge pressure for everyone to achieve the best possible outcome they can - and achieve it straight away.

"I think a lot of people judge themselves more harshly than they need to be, I think they expect other people to judge them more as well."

There is also speculation that strict parents and some schools also play a hand in the mental stability of their children in what is already a stressful time.

"I've seen plenty of kids who've said their parents told them if you don't get above a certain score don't bother coming home, or they wouldn't support them through university if they didn't get in the right sort of course."

"Elitism" also plays a significant role in the way these young adults compare and see themselves.

"To tell people they have to be in a certain percentile is telling them they have to be better than a certain about of students and not have students be better than them.

"I think that sense of competition can really damage students as well.

"I do think there is a problem in the system and it needs to be recognised. They need to be either looking into ways we can fix it, or provide more support services for students who do encounter those problems."

Beyond Blue tips for 'surviving year twelve' encompass: looking after yourself, a good night's sleep managing study and getting support when needed.

Their message to students is to "keep things in perspective because you're far more than your ATAR score."

"Performance in Year 12 is only a measure of ability in a test or exam at one point in time. It does not control your future success or happiness."

The HSC exams end on Tuesday November 7.