The HSC in NSW, just like the VCE in Victoria and similar systems across Australia, is important. It brings to a culmination many years of work and study and greater learning by students and immense care and effort by teachers. For students taking performing arts subjects like music and are preparing for performance examinations, there is an addition pressure. The sense that their performance exam is a "one shot" moment is real. If it is not well handled through the preparation period or in the examination moment, it can sometimes sour young musicians to the whole process and experience of performing. Small errors become magnified, little things that don't go to plan seem like a disaster! Similarly it is too easy to become super-critical of yourself in such pressurised situations - even the most accomplished performance can be picked to pieces and dissected bit by bit and the student misses that moment to celebrate their efforts.
The value to be gained from learning to rationalise and contextualise performance is immense. The act of performing in front of an audience - any audience - is a "life lesson"! Throughout your life there will be many moments where you will be called upon to hit your mark, do your best, meet a deadline, speak in public or deliver the goods! Each moment will require the kind of rehearsal, preparation, practice and bravery that is needed to present your best music performance. So, remember that you are not just preparing for a performance examination, you are preparing for life. This is just a moment in a lifetime of similar moments. Don't forget to enjoy it! Don't bash yourself up about the little things but celebrate the whole experience. Most of all - go for it! Be mindful, be in the moment and give all you've got when you are in the room! Then afterwards, life will go on and you will start preparing for your next "moment". I hope there are plenty of musical moments ahead after the HSC period has ended! Good luck!