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How I Scored An ATAR of 99.65 – Ekin Karaoglu

In this post, Ekin shares the top tips that saw him graduate Dux of his school with an ATAR of 99.65.

Matrix Graduate, Ekin Karaoglu achieved an ATAR of 99.65 and graduated from Amity College in 2015. Ekin was also Dux of Amity College and a silver Medalist at Infomatrix. Ekin aspires to become a doctor.

Ekin’s HSC subjects:

HSC Subject Assessment Mark Examination Mark Overall HSC Mark
English Advanced 93 95 94
Chemistry 91 90 91
Economics 90 89 90
Mathematics Extension 1 99 99 99
Mathematics Extension 2 98 98 98

The HSC has by far, been the most exciting, yet overwhelming challenge that I have faced throughout my high school life. After finishing Term 1 of my HSC year with poor results, I was prepared to change things around in 2015. I decided to set goals for each subject and reorganise my schedule to encourage goal achievement, ensuring I prioritised study and minimised useless distractions. I made sure my schedule was balanced between study and productive distractions, such as going out with my friends and exercise. These latter activities allowed me to clear my mind and helped me focus more effectively.

These changes led to a tremendous improvement in my school ranks and marks in my half-yearly exams. Throughout the process, I tried to maintain a positive outlook. This really helped me to remain calm, motivated, and to achieve the goals I had set for the year.

Ekin’s Top Tips

Focus on your weakest areas

Keep in mind that your ATAR result is a composite of marks from a variety of subjects, so DO NOT spend all your time focusing on your strengths and neglecting your weaknesses. This will drag your ATAR down. Instead, identify your weaker subjects and focus more of your time and energy on trying to improve your knowledge and understanding in these areas. Many students, including myself, struggle with English. I tried to rectify this by spending more time studying English – reading and learning from exemplary responses, following the tips given by my Matrix teachers, and continuously refining my essays with the Matrix tutors during workshops. I spent a lot of time focusing on my weaker subjects because at the end of the day, you need all-rounded results in order to achieve a good ATAR.

Remain motivated

A key aspect of HSC success is to find ways to remain continually motivated, as it allows you to be consistent with your studies and maintain the same standard of work. There will be times throughout your HSC year where you will be dissatisfied with your exam mark. That’s fine. It happens to the best of people and low marks can actually be beneficial, as they make you aware of your mistakes and help ensure you don’t repeat them in the future. However, you must NOT dwell on the past. Remind yourself that there will always be an opportunity to make up for these marks later. Don’t lose hope and continue to remain focused on achieving your goals.

Time management and studying

The immense workload and stress of the HSC is a little daunting at first, but as long as you have an efficient study plan, you should feel confident walking into your exams. It is essential to manage your time well in your HSC year. Even though you have a whole year, time flies by pretty fast, so make the most out of every day. A good schedule spreads study blocks evenly throughout the week; for example, you may wish to spend 3-4 hours after school on weekdays, and 6-8 hours on weekends.

However, there is no point studying if you do not have a plan of what you should be studying. Making a to-do-list at the start of the day allows you to stay on track and make progress towards your short and long-term goals. Also schedule in time for relaxation. You will experience burnout if you continuously study for long periods of time without any breaks. This relaxation time might be spent playing sports, practising a musical instrument, or spending time with your friends.

Know the syllabus

When it comes to studying, the syllabus will become your best friend. It is a complete outline of the entire HSC course, and the actual HSC exam cannot ask anything outside of it, so NESA (formerly BOSTES) is literally telling you what is going to be in the exam. Know the entire syllabus from back to front by making syllabus dot-point notes, and then memorising them. Past papers are essential as they allow you to test your knowledge of the syllabus and provide exposure to the different ways questions may be worded. In terms of studying for English, I found it helpful to write as many essays as possible, for a variety of questions, in order to deepen your understanding of the text.

Everybody studies in different ways. Some people like dead silence, while others like to listen to music whilst they are studying. It is paramount that you adopt study habits and methods that work for you and commit to them.

All the best, and remember to stay motivated and strive to achieve your goals. Good luck!

Have an ATAR Goal but No Plan?

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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