How I scored an ATAR of 99.65 – Darwin Ni

Posted on January 16, 2013 by Darwin Ni

Here are three things that helped me achieve an ATAR of 99.65:

1. Managing your study time

Effectively managing your study time is the priority in year 12. On a typical school day, this can be hard as physical and mental fatigue can carry over from just attending school and other co-curricular activities (e.g. sport or other school commitments). As a minimum standard, it is important to allocate an average of 3 hours every day on studying (including all homework, notes, revision, etc…). This is a more flexible way of maintaining daily study, as it takes into account the days when sport or school events may take up much of your time before/after school (i.e. if you were only able to fit in 2 hours on a particular day, then you need to make sure you make up another hour the following day or any other day of the week so that your total study time during the week adds up to 21+ hours).

During holidays, managing your study time becomes easier. As a way of studying effectively, it might be a good idea to split your study into 1-hour sessions, with regular breaks. Study breaks can then be treated as free time, when you can relax and relieve the stress. If you happen to have subjects like music, these study breaks can be used even more productively for instrumental practice. From experience, alternating an hour of study and an hour of practice throughout the day works quite well. If you don’t do subjects that involve something other than sitting at a desk and working, then physical activities (like going for a run) are also effective.

2. Maximising the effectiveness of your study

Distractions can affect the efficiency and effectiveness of your study. So here are some ways to eliminate some common distractions:

  • Resist logging onto social network sites (i.e. Facebook). An easy way of doing this is to form a group of determined and honest friends and compete with them, so that whoever goes on Facebook first has to take everyone out for an expensive dinner after exams. Otherwise, simply delete or deactivate your account. Just make sure you don’t reactivate it again. It may be hard to get used to for the first month or two, but after the first few months you’ll find that you lose all urgency to go on.
  • Move your laptop/computer, phone and all other electronic distractions out of your study room during study.

Also, try to find a quiet and solitary place to study. Whilst it may depend on your personal habits, it is still preferable to study alone in a quiet environment (i.e. no music). This maximises effectiveness of your study. If you encounter any problems or difficult questions that you can’t complete, then allocate another time slot to discuss with friends or ask a teacher after you have completed your own study.

3. Rest

Ensuring that you get enough sleep and rest everyday is crucial for not only increasing the efficiency of your study, but also for maintaining good health throughout the year. You should be getting 8 hours sleep every night. This is more applicable during the school term, when fatigue can accumulate from having to attend classes for the whole day as well as having to participate in school events and sport. If you don’t get enough sleep, it not only affects how well you study and learn in your classes, but it can also lead to long-term health problems and sickness, as your body becomes more vulnerable to viruses (e.g. cold and flu). This can mean missing classes, which is something you should be avoiding during year 12.

In summary, the key to effective study in your last year is to manage your time well. Whether it’s study, free time, socialising or resting, it’s just about balancing your time and making sure you are completing enough study. Nobody can really ever tell you how much study you should be doing…you need to work that out for yourself. I think it’s safe to say that you will know when you’re doing enough study. At the end of the day, it’s just about trying your best and making the most out of your final year in high school. What hurts more, the pain of hard work or the pain of regret?


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