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Anastasia’s Time Management Tips to Win Gold in Sport and 97.05 ATAR 🏅

Worried about juggling study and extra-curriculars? In this post, elite pole-vaulter Anastasia shares her tips for hitting the heights in her sport and her HSC results.

In this post, elite pole-vaulter, Matrix alumnus, and St Mary’s Senior High School graduate Anastasia Williams shares her time management tips to win gold in sport and 97.05 ATAR.


Me, myself and I

Anastasia Williams

St Mary’s Senior High School


My HSC Subjects

Table: Anastasia’s results
Subjects Assessment Marks HSC Exam Mark HSC Mark Performance Band
Ancient History 89/100 89/100 89 5
Biology 91/100 92/100 92 6
Chemistry 90/100 86/100 88 5
English Advanced 93/100 95/100 94 6
History Extension 43/50 46/50 45 E4
Mathematics 93/100 91/100 92 6
Mathematics Extension 1 42/50 41/50 42 E3


My best subject was English

Surprisingly, the subject I performed best in was English Advanced! I attribute this to the amount of effort and time I placed into the subject.

It is no secret that English (as a whole) is often overlooked or dismissed by most students but is the most important being the 2 units in which will undeniably contribute to your ATAR.

When I first joined Matrix, English was my weakest subject. I put little time into it and often couldn’t engage with the texts. Moving into year 11 and 12 I knew if I wanted to perform highly I would have to put in the work.

I began actively engaging with the texts I was given. Having read/ watched each of my texts multiple times I developed a greater understanding and appreciation for them.

For year 12 this was especially useful, as rather than memorising quotes and scenes I would be able to recall them through my understanding of the text.

Actively contributing to class discussion, whilst scary at times was also essential to my success in English. It allowed for an enhanced understanding of concepts and provide new insights from teacher and peers. Ultimately setting me up to score a 95 in the exam and score a 94 HSC mark for Advanced English.


My worst Subject was Maths Extension 1

The subject I performed worst in was Maths Extension. This wasn’t because I didn’t know the content, it was due to the little time I spent on it.

Having completed 12 units for the HSC I assumed that maths extension would not count in my ATAR, and so spent less time on it then other subjects. Looking back this is my biggest regret as it did count towards my ATAR in the end as it scaled higher. If I’d put more time into it I could have achieved an E4.


My time management tips to win gold in sport and 97.05 ATAR

Time management for most people – including me-  is the biggest struggle when completing the HSC.

I had a unique experience during my HSC where I trained and competed at an elite level in athletics as well as completing year 12.

Throughout my HSC, I travelled interstate and internationally to compete at both national and international events as well as state championships. This combined with a regular training schedule and study provided a unique balancing act in which I had to priorities and use my time carefully.

I remember a moment right before my year 12 half-yearly’s: I was in the car on my way to the Australian Junior Championships reading my biology flashcards and getting my brother to quiz me at any free moment.


Flashcards are great for studying at home, before, exams, or in the car on the way to a competition!

Similarly, having had completed a major work for History Extension I remember editing and emailing my teacher back and worth whilst I was overseas competing, already having done a Maths paper on the plane. Any available moment I saw, I would take the opportunity to work on my major, or re-read notes etc.

Making use of planners and timetables also really helped me to achieve efficient time management.

I would plan out what I needed to do for each day where I would start with any assessments I had or set work given by teachers and then progress into personal study, note taking, practice questions etc.

As I would train after school most days for approximately 3-4 hours, I made sure I used my time wisely during the school day. Paying attention in class, completing work in class, asking questions.

Having free periods for study were also beneficial as it provided extra time to study. I highly recommend that if you are lucky enough to get free periods don’t waste them!

When I would get home from training I would often get straight back into work. Doing the Matrix holiday course was also extremely beneficial for me as I was able to complete the terms worth of content during the holidays so I had more time during the term to review concepts I struggled with, as well as giving me an edge in class where I could extend the knowledge I already had.


My timetable was a real juggling act between study and training


Whilst studying at home, I would use a unique method where I would break up my study into 45 minute time frames and then have a 5 minute between each session. This allowed me to keep focus as I wasn’t forcing myself to sit for hours staring at pages but rather allowed me to have short focused study session followed by a short break where I would often get fresh air, get my body moving and then start the process again.


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My proudest sporting achievement in 2018

My proudest sporting achievement from 2018 would be placing first at my first international athletics competition when I travelled to Vanuatu to compete at the Melanesian and Oceania Championship. This was a special moment, as it was my first time competing for Australia at just 17. It is one I will always remember!


The Melanesian and Oceania Championship was an unforgettable experience!

This, coupled with placing at Australian Junior and Youth Championships as well as the Australian All Schools where great highlights during the year.

Other achievements during the year included, winning gold at both NSW All Schools and NSW junior and youth championships as well as being recognised as a national U18 with Paris Potential.


My sporting goals while at university

Whilst balancing university studies have goals to compete at the World University Championships as well as the World U20 Championships in 2020 held in Nairobi in Kenya.

Beyond this, I’d like to eventually compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

I’m currently a part of a development program (Paris Potential) for the 2024 Paris Olympics.


How I dealt with the combined stresses of study and competition

Having to deal with sporting commitments and the HSC was quite stressful for me: I wanted to succeed in both!

My training and competitions acted as stress relief in a way where the exercise and the fresh air provided a break from the HSC, where in the moment I would solely focus on the drill I was doing or the event at hand. It also allowed me to socialise, where talking to people relieved pressure allowing me the ability to get my thoughts together.

I strongly recommended that during your HSC you do take time to go outside, exercise and socialise whether that be at a group study or sports team.

It doesn’t just relieve stress it also provides you with support groups and helped me stay focused and relaxed.


My exam and study strategies

I know its cliché, but past papers are your best friends during the HSC especially approaching trials and the HSC exams.

During my studies, I aimed to have finished all my course notes at least 2-3 weeks prior to the exam or assessment. And then in the weeks leading up to it, I would just do past papers, handing in sample answers and questions to my teachers and seek feedback on where I would lose marks and how to answer particular questions I wasn’t sure of.


My Hamlet notes.

The more practice you do, the quicker you get at answering questions!

In addition, you are exposed to a wider range of questions, which can only be beneficial. Past papers are especially helpful if you are time poor. If I was faced again with the choice between writing notes or doing papers, I would choose the papers as its more practical in the sense that you have exposure to potential exam questions.

Along with this, I would have detailed notes for each subject, providing all the content I needed for the courses. These notes where quite long and I would aim to read through them at least once every week as it provided a refresher on past topics I hadn’t touched in a while.


My Ancient History notes



I’d make detailed notes on all of my texts before making flashcards

Finally, I also made short summary flashcards that just had the main points of interests on them. These were extremely beneficial as they had key words and terms for each syllabus point and allowed for a quick revision before walking into an exam as well as on the road to competition.



Flashcards were an essential study aid for me on the road!



My advice to anyone starting Year 12

To all of you about to start Year 12, I would advise you to choose subjects you enjoy! There is nothing worse than having to force yourself to study.

Instead, make sure you enjoy the content and that way study comes easy.

To all of you starting year 12 thinking you can’t manage the balancing act of either being a sportsperson, a musician, or any other extra-curricular, I say: You can absolutely succeed!

Make sure to stay on top of your work and maintain a positive mind frame.


You must do these three things:

  1. Make sure you get sleep. Especially the night before an exam, it really does make a huge difference in your performance.
  2. Keep organised. Make sure you are on top of all your work and constantly revising past topics. There is nothing worse than having to relearn a topic you have already done or having to catch up content.
  3. Enjoy your final year of schooling. I know it sounds daunting but it’s the last time you will be in high school! Make the most of it.


You must never do these three things:

  1. Give up. It’s a bit cliché, but after trials personally I found it a lot harder to study as you are so close to the finish. Make sure you keep going, your external exams can make a huge difference and can influence your ATAR significantly.
  2. Disregard a subject. Whether you dismiss a subject on the basis that you think you don’t need to study it or you just lack passion in it, make sure you treat them all equally, especially if you only have 10 units. Priorities your weakness and work back from their as everything counts in the end.
  3. Stop extra-curricular activities. These activities provide an outlet for stress, socialising and a healthily lifestyle, maintaining a balance eases the pressure of the HSC.



Written by Guest Author

We have regular contributions to our blog from our Tutor Team and high performing Matrix Students. Come back regularly for these guest posts to learn their study hacks and insights!


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