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Eric’s Hacks: Ace Your HSC with Weekly Rhythms and a Reflection Book

In this article, Eric shows you how to ace your HSC with weekly rhythms and a reflection book.

Do you feel you could perform better at school if you could just be more organised? Well, you’re in luck! In this article, Matrix Scholarship student Eric Papadopolous shows you how to ace your HSC with weekly rhythms and a reflection book!


Me, Myself and I:


Eric Papadopoulos


Sylvania High School

University Course Goal:

Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Dalyell Scholars) at The University of Sydney




Dream Career and Why:

Neuroscientist + Professional Speaker.

I’ve always been curious about asking the big questions:

  • “What is reality?”
  • “Is reality an illusion?”
  • “Who am I?”

And then it occurred to me that all these questions can be answered by delving into the ‘3-pound universe’ that is our brain.

I am hoping to further expand our knowledge on how we can optimise our cognitive intelligence and I would love to teach this information to the world as a speaker.


My HSC Subjects

  • English Advanced
  • Mathematics Extension 1
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Extension Science


My best performing subject is Chemistry because…

I enjoy learning about how chemicals interact with each other (and which chemicals make the biggest explosions!).

I found success by using a “calculations book” to record all the different types of calculation questions they can ask in exams.

I do this for even the most basic of calculations. You should do this, too, to ensure you don’t miss out on easy marks!

Check out these examples below:






My worst performing subject is English (to little surprise!) because…

I struggle to connect deeply with the text, impairing my ability to articulate any personal connections I share with the text.

However, I found the Matrix English Advanced term course has helped me combat this and it has provided me with a different perspective on the rubric, text and course on the whole.

Start HSC English confidently

Expert teachers, detailed feedback, one-to-one help! Learn from home with Matrix+ Online English courses.


How I use weekly rhythms and a book of mistakes to stay on top of my subjects

If you want to succeed, you need a weekly rhythm!

Your weekly rhythm is your best friend. It will motivate you, it will never judge you, it will become part of your family!

Every term and holiday period, I create a weekly rhythm that outlines the additional study I will do every night.

Here is my most recent rhythm:


This is how I schedule my week with a rhythm.

So, let’s break this down:

School + Matrix HW:

Some people prefer to study before doing homework, but I find I like to complete as much homework as I can before studying. Most days, I complete my homework in my study periods and eliminate this column before getting home.

Decision Matrix:

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix is an absolute lifesaver. We’ve all had to pull those one-nighters to finish an assignment because we either forgot about it or ran out of time!

Time is the most valuable asset in your HSC year and this decision matrix will sort everything out for you.

It works by prioritising tasks into four different categories (Urgent, Not Urgent, Important, Not Important).

For example, if a task is both urgent and important it MUST be done! If a task is both not urgent and not important, it is probably best you disregard it or complete it after completing all other tasks.

Here is my current Decision Matrix below:


I use a whiteboard to plan things out

(I like to define “urgent” as must be done in 2 weeks or less, and “important” as this will affect my school/HSC marks or it concerns important school events such as school captaincy) Everyone’s rhythms are completely different. It’s all about finding what suits you best.

My Saturdays:

On Saturday testing, I like to compile HSC questions on the content I have recently studied for English, Maths Ext 1 and the Science subject I struggle the most with at the time (either Chemistry or Biology) and complete a 1-hour exam on all three of them.

Don’t worry about marking these on Saturday, this will be done on Sunday instead! Then, after studying for English and Maths ADV, I have a “variable” study block that can include a particular subject I am struggling with or some extra break time on the weekend.

My Sundays:

Reflection, reflection, reflection!

This is the most important time of the week.

All you have to do is mark your practice exams from Saturday and then answer these 3 questions in a little “reflection book”:

  • “How did I go this week and how do I feel?”
  • “What could I have done better?”
  • How could I have performed better on this week’s testing?”

This is what mine looks like:


This is how I reflect on my weekend’s work!

After this, you must put your answers into practice. If you didn’t feel that good, find out how to fix that!

If you couldn’t remember your English quotes, spend a little extra time revising them! Once you’ve figured out how to put your answers into practice, take the rest of the reflection block off – you’ve earned it.

Timing blocks:

I know many people who use different times for their blocks. Each ‘block’ is a cell on the rhythm, for example, the block labelled ‘English’ refers to one block of study time for English.

I like to study for 50 minutes with a 10-minute break, totalling each block to 1 hour long.

Other people prefer 30 minutes study, 5-minute break, 30 minutes study, 5-minute break.

Find what works best for you!

Pro Tip: Put time periods (e.g. 4:30-5:30pm) at the start of each row and stick an extra copy on the outside of your bedroom door so your parents won’t bother you!


How I unwind and cope with stress

Let’s face it. Stress. Year 12. They’re both synonymous.

But your ATAR is not the be all and end all, you’ll be okay!

Something that all the best students have in common is that they all understand the value of unwinding and they have practices in place to cope with stress.

Everyone has their own methods, but I find there is nothing more effective than going out with your friends, leaving your comfort zone and socialising every day.

Take a load off and celebrate your achievements. Even take 5 minutes to “meme up” your notes. Matrix has the right idea…



My number 1 regret!

I completely regret giving up Rugby League for extra study time.

I didn’t think I could balance my sporting commitments with my HSC year, however, I was greatly mistaken.

I keep up with sports opportunities at School, but nothing beats it. If you enjoy an activity, make sure you set some time away for it in your week. It’s not worth giving it up if it makes you happy.

My Advice to Future Students

You must do these three things:

  1. Get a weekly rhythm
  2. Go out with friends and celebrate your achievements
  3. Aim High!

You must never do these three things:

  1. Neglect English
  2. Lock yourself in your room or the library 24/7
  3. Stop doing what you love!


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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