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Emily’s Hacks: How to overcome Exam Stress to achieve a 99.05 ATAR

Perform your best in your senior years by reducing stress! Read these hot tips from Year 12 Matrix Scholarship student Emily Dinh.

Do you know how to overcome exam stress? Preparation really is the key to beating exam stress. In this article, Year 12 James Ruse and Matrix student, Emily Dinh, shares her hottest tips to get you through your senior year stress! Get on top of exam stress before it gets on top of you!


Me, Myself and I

Name: Emily Dinh

School: James Ruse Agricultural High School

ATAR goal: 98+ (Emily achieved a 99.05 ATAR)

University course goal: Engineering.

Dream career: My dream career is to be a design engineer in the automotive industry to develop ecologically sustainable methods of travel as the increasing dependence on cars and planes adds to harmful environmental pollution.


My HSC Subjects

My subjects for Year 12 are:

  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • English Advanced
  • Maths Extension 2.


Best performing subject

My best performing subject is Chemistry because I revised the most for this subject and completed the most revision question papers.

I revised the lesson content from my Matrix Theory books and school notes before completing past papers and revision booklets.


Worst performing subject

My worst performing subject is Maths Extension 2 because I did not allocate enough time to this subject and underestimated the level of difficulty of the subject.

In the time it took for me to complete an Extension 2 question, I would be able to complete multiple Chemistry questions. This was a problem because I allocated the same study time to both subjects but was not able to complete as many Extension 2 practice questions.

As a result of my poor time allocation, my Extension 2 assessment results were negatively affected.



My #1 Problem in Year 12

My number one problem to achieving my ATAR goal was learning all the term content in sufficient detail whilst also having time for revision and targeted course revision.


Step 1: Annotate and highlight unsure areas

Complete all Matrix lessons, homework and quizzes. Make sure that you annotate and highlight areas you are unsure of or need to revise in different coloured pens or highlighters).




Step 2: Make revision or summary notes

Make revision or summary notes as you learn the content (the summary notes should be handwritten and constantly updated)




Step 3: Create weekly plans

Create weekly plans which can be divided into daily goals to maximise your time efficiency.

Assigning a few tasks to each day makes completing all tasks seem more achievable as there is constant progress.

The holiday courses allowed me to stay on time with what I was learning at school. I attended the holiday courses for Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics Extension 2.

This means that I had to stick to a strict study schedule each day to complete the daily lessons and homework efficiently as well as making summary notes for revision.

Attending the holiday courses might not be for everyone as they are faster paced and completing two or three subjects in the holiday courses may become overwhelming to stay on top of content, homework and summary notes.

However, by completing three courses in the holidays, this freed up my school term to complete school work and revise for upcoming assessments without struggling to complete tutoring work.


Save yourself from the stress like Emily did!

Fast track your Chemistry studies during the holidays to free up your school time for revision! Our 5-day Chemistry Holiday course will break down the core topics of the module and provide you with a wide variety of questions to complete and challenge yourself.

Learn more about Matrix Holiday Course now. 



My Study/Exam Strategies

1. Flagging challenging questions

One strategy I implemented in preparation for upcoming assessments was flagging challenging questions to revisit when revising for exams.

Having a separate book for challenging questions in maths was very time efficient.

I would flip through the questions and solutions the week before my exam and know exactly where harder questions are located. This gives me more time to work through them again, instead of having to look for the challenging question from the beginning.


2. Consistently making revision notes

Another strategy I used throughout the year was making revision notes as I progressed through the course.

I created a quick summary of what I had learnt at the end of each lesson.

This was a good way to revise lesson content and include any new tips the teacher would provide.

I also added side notes and annotations to my revision notes from what I learnt in practice papers. This means that my summary notes were always up to date and contained everything I needed to know or revise in preparation for exams.


3. Collating notes and practice questions

Also, collating notes and obtaining practice questions from a variety of sources really broadened my exposure to different types of questions that could be asked in assessments.

I attended the Matrix courses for all my subjects. So, having Matrix, my school notes and various textbooks really helped me extend my range of practice questions and question styles.

For Maths and Science, I collated questions from my Matrix books, from school textbooks, school work and practice papers from other schools. Drawing from multiple resources enabled me to widen my knowledge and practice as many different questions as possible.

For English, I was able to source essay questions from my teachers and also friends from other schools to prepare and practice adapting my essay to different questions





I used Matrix+ to study for Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics Extension 2.

The online theory lessons were delivered via a pre-recorded video which allowed me to pause and rewind any parts of the video that I missed or needed extra clarification on. Each video also covered the entire week’s content with an in-depth explanation of completed questions with their solutions.

The Biology and Chemistry courses also had external links to videos of practical experiments which made following the course content easier.

The online lessons offered a good alternative to in class lessons and allowed me to work through the content at my own pace.

The online quizzes which required completion before moving onto the next lesson ensured that I had understood the previous lesson and were a good way to test my knowledge.



My Regrets

With my knowledge now, I would plan out my study timetable from the beginning of Year 12.

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of constantly preparing for exams and finding a study method that would prevent me from burning out.

My improved timetabling would have begun with weekly plans which allocated sufficient and equal time to all my subjects.

By scheduling a set day or time for studying a particular subject, this helps to check off what subjects you have completed.



My Advice to Future Year 12 ‘Subject’ Students

You must do these three things:

1. Make summary notes as you learn the content.

After every school lesson or Matrix lesson, write a brief summary of what you learnt which serves a dual purpose to revise your content and also stay on top of collating your notes when studying for assessments.


2. Read novels or short stories for leisure.

This will help you in English regarding sentence structure in essays or even styles of writing for Module C in English.


3. Exercise

Retain your exercise routine to serve as a refresh from schoolwork and to maintain your physical health.



You must never do these three things:

1. Never leave classwork unfinished. 

Itt will pile up very quickly before you realise so try to finish your homework the day it is given.


2. Never dwell on bad exam results.

Your exam results should be your guide to acing the next exam as they reveal the areas you need to revise more.


3. Never procrastinate completing your assignments and studying

Sometimes you don’t want to do the work but you want it done, so do your future self a favour and try to complete your work early!



Save yourself from the stress like Emily did!

Our 5-day Chemistry Holiday course will break down the core topics of the module and provide you with a wide variety of questions to complete and challenge yourself.

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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