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George’s Hacks: How I achieved a 98.55 ATAR

In this post, George Ge explains his hacks for nailing an ATAR of 98.55.

Me, Myself, and I

Name: George Ge

School: Sydney Boys High School

Grade: Year 12 (2017)

ATAR: 98.55

A Little About Me:

My name is George Ge and I go to Sydney Boys High School. I’m an avid sportsperson, having participated in swimming, table tennis, badminton, tennis, and fencing for extended periods of time.

Ever since I was young, I’ve also had a strong interest in aeronautics, and I was often glued to the television screen watching documentaries about famous aircraft designers such as Kurt Tank. As a result, I was fortunate enough to have a set goal to work towards throughout my schooling period.


My School Life

My subjects:

To achieve my ATAR goal, I decided to do English Advanced, Maths Extension 1 and 2, Physics, and Economics.  In Year 11, I also did German, although I dropped the subject once I entered Year 12.

I’m pro at:

Currently, I’m performing the best in Physics, because of my strong interest in the subject stemming from my childhood fascination with planes. The Maths is not as complicated as Extension 2 Mathematics, and the subject area itself is very interesting to me. As a result, I’ve always had a strong motivation to do well and thus applied myself extensively to the area.

I struggle with:

My worst subject is English, although recently I’ve managed to improve and develop a more cohesive understanding of the topic. My poor grades in the area originate from a distaste for reading traditional literature such as Shakespeare – causing me to feel unmotivated. Fortunately, overcoming this has improved my work ethic in the subject and it is probably the subject I spend my most time on now. The Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English is a good online resource to help you get started.


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My Routine

My holidays:

My school holidays were usually spent attending the Matrix Holiday Accelerated Courses, although when I didn’t attend them, I self-studied. For example, during the Christmas long break, I managed to complete at least 3-4 hours of work to read material that I knew I would learn in the new term. This would generally be split into two sessions, one before and then after lunch. That allowed me time in the evening to still relax and enjoy my holidays while still working ahead and giving myself an advantage when the term started.

During the holidays I attended the Matrix Mathematics Extension 1 and Matrix Physics courses. This meant that I was undertaking the courses from 9:30 am – 12:20 pm and 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm. Once I returned home, I would then complete the homework from each subject which would usually take around three hours in total.

This was my approach to keeping myself productive during school holidays with very little time wasted.

During the term:

Here is my routine:

  • I wake up every day at 6:30 am for either Mathematics Extension morning classes or my sport training sessions at school.
  • I then end most school days at 3:15 pm, arriving home at around 4:00 pm – unless I had a Matrix Lesson on that day.
  • On Tuesdays, I had my Matrix English Advanced lessons, on those days I would usually get home at around 8:30 pm. After dinner, it would be quite late, so I would only study for around an hour before packing up and getting ready for the next day. Because of the limited time after tutoring, I usually aimed to cover Tuesday’s work during the weekend and Monday.
  • Once at home, I study for two 45 minute sessions until dinner with a 10-minute break in between.
  • I  study whichever subject I had at school in those sessions.
  • After dinner, I have another 2-3 45 minute sessions with breaks and finish at around 10-10:30 pm.
  • I then wash up and go to bed.
  • I aim for 8 hours of sleep.


I fight distractions by:

Of course, this rhythm only works when I am not distracted or procrastinating. Once I get distracted, this timeline pretty much falls apart. In order to prevent this, I allow myself to do whatever I want in my breaks to act as motivation (I usually read a novel or surf Facebook). But I consistently remind myself that when I study, I must focus. If things get too out of hand, I resort to just studying using pen and paper and switching off the computer and my phone.


I also:

Play sport, a lot. Most of my training sessions for sport are in the morning, as I mentioned previously. The competition matches are also held on the weekends, keeping my afternoons during the weekend mostly free. As a result, I’ve been able to balance my commitments, and I have also noticed that sport has allowed me to focus more greatly on my studies.


Exam Preparation

I prepare for exams by:

During the school term:

  • I aimed to complete sets of summary notes for content-heavy subjects such as English, Physics and Economics.
  • About 4 weeks before an exam, I would start to revise these notes while doing past exam questions to apply the collected knowledge to actual questions. This is the most important part, because it gives you practice formulating cohesive responses while also helping you memorise the information.
  • Two weeks before the exams, I would aim to complete papers under timed conditions to get ready for the real test. Hopefully by the time of the exam, I’d have done enough practice which emulates the real test so that I’m comfortable without being overly anxious.


My Achievements

My proudest achievement so far this year is winning the GPS Tennis 2nd Grade Premiership for the first time in my school’s history. Not only was it an amazing sporting achievement for me, it also demonstrated the perfect balance between academic and co-curricular excellence that I had managed to find at the time.


My Regrets

I wish someone told me earlier and more forcefully the great importance of English. If I had put in half the effort I put in now at the beginning of my high school life, I am almost certain that my grades in the subject would be excellent. Being more focused on actual practice questions rather than trying to theory for all my subjects is another aspect of study that I wish I did differently.

If I could start the year again, I would have continued my sporting commitments throughout the entirety of year 12. Moving from a high intensity training regime to almost no exercise at all was a huge shock for my system, and I paid for it with deteriorating health. I also noticed an increasing lack of focus. These observations only served to reinforce the importance that having a healthy body is for the mind.


My Advice to Future Year 12 Students

My advice would be to live a balanced life in your senior years of high school and not allow study to devour every aspect of your life.

Three things you MUST do at the beginning of Year 12:

  1. Do sport or other forms of exercise to stay healthy. Do this consistently and stick to a schedule. This will also teach you discipline, while providing benefits to your body.
  2. Study throughout the term, developing notes while teachers supply new content so that you don’t fall behind when exams are scheduled.
  3. Remain consistent in your effort and always strive to do your best.


Three things you MUST NOT do at the beginning of Year 12:

  1. Cram before exams. While some may seem to do well with this strategy, more often than not, they have already studied well before the test or have only received an average mark. Learning and understanding the content will always be successful.
  2. Focus only on study. More and more, employers and universities look for students who are well rounded. Try new skills and this helps provide constructive breaks to allow you to focus better when you do study.
  3. Procrastinate. Procrastination never solves anything and if you feel hesitant about revising or anything, start with small steps and eventually, you’ll enter a flow. Getting over the first hurdle is the most difficult, but once you’re past it, things will work out themselves.


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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