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Ayushma’s Hacks: How I Overcame Anxiety and Self-Doubt to Ace the HSC 👊

In this article, Matrix graduate Ayushma shares how she overcame anxiety and self-doubt to ace the HSC!

In this article, Ayushma shares how she overcame anxiety and self-doubt to ace the HSC!


Me, Myself and I


Ayushma Budhathoki


ATAR Goal:



University Course Goal:

Pharmacy at the University of Sydney


My HSC Subjects

  • English EAL/D
  • Mathematics Advanced
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Business Services


I performed the best in English and Chemistry


I truly believe that my genuine interest in reading novels and writing journals made me do consistently well in English. This is because I enjoyed reading prescribed texts given and doing assessments such as writing critical responses and creative stories.

Reading books made me learn a lot about ourselves and helps us connect to the world.

English assignments are usually designed to get us thinking outside the box. This helped me stretch my imagination and think about texts in ways that causes me to connect them with real-world events.



I am really passionate about Science, especially Chemistry. Though there were times when I didn’t score well, I never gave up and always strove to give 100% which always helped me improve a lot.

Some of the reasons on why I enjoyed chemistry are:

  • As you learn more about Chemistry, you’ll begin to find it is the perfect balance between the more conceptual sciences like physics and math, and the more palpable sciences like Biology and Geology
  • The more you learn about Chemistry, the better you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions and interpretations about the natural and synthetic processes that have been around you all along.


How I achieved the marks I wanted for Chemistry and English

Having interest in the particular subject does help you motivate yourself to work hard. However, to excel you need to have a strong mindset that says:


Not just your interest or strong mindset is enough though !

It takes a lot of hard work , dedication and patience to get the results you want.

Here is few examples of what I did to maintain top rank

To ace English I…

  • Read all the prescribed texts at least three times to ensure I have extensive knowledge about all the important events/ideas covered.
  • Made sure to attempt at least 5 practice essay questions before my exams.
  • Practised in exam condition and timed myself. For EAL/D , we are required to finish an essay in 30 minutes. So, I made sure I could finish at least a few minutes before. This is because teacher might throw me really hard question in which I might need extra minutes to think on how I will answer the question well.

Also, because English is not my first language I used various sources such as grammarly and even had a vocabulary diary with sophisticated words. I also made sure to email my teacher my essays a lot. I had a really supportive teacher who replied to me as soon as possible .


To ace Chemistry…

I performed really badly in Year 11. Especially in the depth study as I had rushed it. It really affected my overall marks and ranking as the assessment is worth at least 30% of internal marks.

To ensure to not repeat the same mistakes again, in year 12 I…

  • Made sure to start the assessment on the same day the notification was given.
  • Made sure that I asked questions immediately to my teacher if I was confused about anything such as difficult concepts or marking criteria.
  • Took the time to research really well and get information from various textbooks and other sources.
  • I asked my Matrix teacher and tutors for help as well

Putting a lot of effort made me achieve Band 6!

In addition, for Chemistry it is crucial that you:

  • Practise lots of questions — use various sources such as textbooks, and other material that school gives you.
  • Finish the Matrix homework as it has a variety of questions that can be really good practice
  • Know your Year 11 content very well
  • Revise! Revise! Revise!


I performed the worst in Mathematics…

I struggled to do well in Mathematics throughout the year. It was not the matter of not understanding the concepts. It was more about making silly mistakes and being anxious.

When Year 12 started, I was so anxious and scared that I could not perform my best. Therefore, I had done terribly in the first assessment of Mathematics and Biology.

Maths requires a lot of practice. The more you practice the better you become.

For me, I always thought I couldn’t do Maths. My mindset in this subject affected my marks as well.

However, I had really good teacher and A GREAT MATHS TEACHER at Matrix.

I could share how anxious I feel to my teachers and they really helped me improve academically and mentally.


How I overcame anxiety and self-doubt to ace the HSC

I encountered some pretty big obstacles in my pursuit of my ATAR goal — anxiety and self-doubt. This is what i did to cope!


Often mental health is taken very lightly. However, it is very important.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Throughout Year 12, I suffered from massive anxiety to a point where I used to vomit before exams.

It affected my marks a lot which was really hard to cope with because no matter how hard I had worked, I could not perform my level best.

Luckily I had really supportive teachers with whom I could share my situation. I also visited counsellors who gave me tips for mindfulness.

Given how I went through this, I really want to encourage future Year 12 students and every other student in high school to seek help if you are going through this! You don’t have to do this alone!

Below is a table that explains my coping strategies for some of the different anxiety triggers I dealt with:

How having anxiety made me feelHow it affected meHow I bounced back and overcame this
OverwhelmedIncreased my levels of procrastination as I was running away from school work because I feltMeditation
Scared to sit examsMade me vomit before exams leading me to underperform

Self doubt

Avoided hearing how much my friends studied before entering the exam hall

Listened to my favourite music

Made sure i maintained a good diet

Stressed all the timeMade me not enjoy even the fun stuffExercise



I used to doubt my capabilities a lot of times. Especially when I didn’t get the marks I wanted.

However, I beat my doubts by just working hard.

In the beginning, my ranking for biology was triple digits! However, I didn’t give up and kept on working. At the end of the year, my rank was Top 5!


Comparing myself against others

I used to compare myself with the best students in my school which made me feel that I was not doing well. It really lowered my self-confidence and made me not work hard.

I overcame this by reading non-fiction books. There are really good motivational books that you can find in your local library which motivate you and encourage you to think positively!


My study exam, strategies

Here are the tips I used to stay ahead in my subjects!


I had a glossary for all of my subjects!

Lots of books have glossary pages at the end. I used to use this and actually memorise them. I used to choose 5 words every day and revise them.


This is because it helped me know lots of scientific terms that were very useful for me to use while writing experimental reports, answering short answer questions, long responses.

I did the same thing for English where I had lists of similes, metaphors and sophisticated words.


I started studying at least 2 weeks before my tests!

I booked lots of workshops so that I could go over all the difficult concepts I didn’t understand. Matrix tutors are really helpful and you can ask them any questions. Don’t hesitate to ask some questions because you think them to be stupid. No questions are stupid.

I asked teachers to help me more in their free time. I used to ask my Matrix teachers if I could see them after class for help. I had really supportive and nice teachers who were happy to do so. You can even email them if they are busy.

To stay focused I used apps such as Flora and Forest to stop myself from being distracted by my phone.


There is also an option called downtime on the iPhone which does something similar.


I also liked to study in the park sometimes as it helped me concentrate and stay focused


My regrets & advice

1. Choose subjects that you are genuinely interested in.

Lot of students choose certain subjects because they scale high, or maybe because of parental pressure. However, I truly believe that you should choose subject that genuinely interests you.

I chose physics because it scaled pretty good. However, later I realised that I really struggle to understand the concepts, and it started taking a lot of my study time.

2. Not managing time properly

It is very important to manage your time properly. I was not able to do so a lot of times that made me feel even more stressed out.

3. Not taking my mental health seriously

Let’s be honest, many of us do not take mental health seriously and do not realise how much it actually impacts our daily lives.

Therefore, if you don’t feel right, talk to your friends, family and seek help immediately!


4. Not spending time with friends

I wish I spent more time with friends as I had completely cut them off during Year 11 and Year 12. These two years are the last years of high school. So, spend some time with your friends as well as your books.


5. Finally, Don’t just STUDY!! STUDY!! STUDY!!

Instead, get outside and away from your desk:

  • Exercise
  • Do extracurricular activities
  • This way you will not feel burnt out and actually be able to concentrate more on your studies.

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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