IT IS SAD that after thirteen years of schooling, education is reduced to a series of acronyms and numbers. BOS, HSC, UMAT and UAC dominate discussion or inspire intermittent bursts of study and guilt while straining once solid friendships. It all culminates with the release of a UAI (university admission index) to two decimal places. Whereas primary education is concerned with ticks and crosses and junior high school with passes and failures, the HSC sees complicated percentages and cumulative ranks take on a greater importance. Its effect is to dull a student’s passion for education and learning. Instead, many adopt a short-sighted, aggressive pursuit of Band 6 results. Understanding what the markers want and how to write it becomes first priority, the reality of Year 12 in NSW.
I finished my final examinations a week ago. As the HSC wound down, I realised that over the year I, too, had lapsed into this anxious state of mind. The thought didn’t occur when the supervisor ordered “pens down” for the last time, or even in the hours or days that followed. Rather, it manifested itself in the strange mixture of accomplishment and regret when I fed my recycling bin with mountains of highlighted pages, scribbled notes, past exams and red-penned papers. How little they meant to me was astounding: most of the quotes, dates and statistics that I had “learnt” through rigorous practice and memorising were put in a plastic container, destined for disposal.
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