ATAR Stories Study Tips

Tips for Studying for the Design and Technology Exam

Design and Technology
Written by Ashlee Negrone

Spending all year working on a Major Project, the Design and Tech exam creeps up, and students can be left wondering what they’re supposed to study and how to answer questions. It’s a pretty unique exam, but a few tips can help you when prepping for the final HSC exam.

It’s only an hour and a half.

First of all, this subject has an hour and a half exam. Markers know you have spent your entire year working on your MDP. Truly, boil it down to what it is; it’s not going to be that hard. It’s definitely not comparable to a subject like E1 English, which has a 2 hour exam; it’s just not got the same weighting.

This is important when looking at the syllabus, because you should know that you won’t need to spit out that content in such detail.

This is also important for any examples or case studies you might be thinking of using. I was really keen to write about the innovations within neurology, but realized that explaining what everything meant would take the exam itself. Keep it simple and keep it concise.

Get a good resource!

For learning content, I would definitely recommend the HSC Excel Design and Technology book. It’s only small, and also covers Y11, but is super helpful because of how much it condenses really broad and vague topics down. For example, the idea on changing markets for designers. It gives you some base points to work from when discussing concepts in design.

Otherwise, use notes from your teacher or some on Bored of Studies/ATAR Notes. But find some or a resource to use for that conceptual stuff in DT.

Also don’t forget to harness the resources of your MDP! Take advantage of all the products you’ve analyzed, the designers you’ve looked at, design processes you used, etc.


You only need a few in DT, but definitely spend some time defining key terms and ideas. They’re not only useful if asked a straight question on what something means, but you can chuck them into your answers to show you know your stuff. They don’t have to be overly complicated either; stuff like types of obsolescence or types of data gained during the research period.

Examples are everything.

Get some really solid examples memorized for concepts in design. For example, Apple are a great way to describe obsolescence; take their chargers or headphones. These are usually pretty easy to come by and you can often think them up on the spot; but know some to get some detail on them so that you tell the marker you know your stuff.

Connect EVERYTHING to sustainability.

If you boil everything down in the syllabus, it usually hits one main concept; the challenge of sustainable design. Because this is the most desirable end goal. So make sure you are well-versed in environmentally friendly design; know about biodegradability, cradle to grave / cradle to cradle analyses, sustainability, waste management, energy production; have a general understanding of how these things all fit together so you can loosely talk about the impact that design has on these areas. Be aware also of the ways that designers have control over these factors and what their subsequent consequences are.

Good luck!

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Author: Ashlee Negrone

Ash studies Pre-Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney. She gradutated in 2016 with an ATAR of 95.3 with the subjects Biology, Adv English, PDHPE, English Ext 1, Design and Technology and Studies of Religion 2U.
Contact for tutoring inquiries.

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