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Jarif’s Hacks: How I Stopped Wasting Time and Began Acing My Subjects

Have you ever been distracted by your phone or got bored whilst studying? Well, in this article, Jarif shares how he stopped wasting time and began acing subjects instead!

Want to learn the tips and tricks to topping your grade? Well, Sydney Boys and Matrix student shares his secrets to topping Year 10 by dedicating effective study sessions.


About me:


Jarif Asad






Sydney Boys High School





University Course Goal

Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine at USYD!


Dream Career

Somewhere along the lines of a Neurosurgeon (ambitious, I know), or anything that’ll allow me to make a positive difference—I’ve always had an interest in the medical field and neuroscience stands out to me.



My Year 10 Subjects

Accelerated Geography (I started Y12 this term—nerve-racking!)1st (Preliminary Course Finals)
Top 15 overall in Year 10



My Best Performing Subject:

Geography Accelerated proved to be a great success for me this year, particularly since it is a subject that I am passionate about (well, not obsessively, but you get the gist), and enjoy.

Since it is a preliminary course I made it my first priority. This means that I had to be quite flexible since falling behind is something I could not afford.

The best way to revise and stay ahead with the content was to thoroughly understand the syllabus and make note of parts which I may have struggled with or needed further revision on.





My notes were effective as they adhered to the syllabus dot-points. This means that I would not deviate and waste time revising for content that won’t be in the exam.

This acted as a guide for what to do next, as there was always some way I could further improve my understanding of a specific syllabus dot-point.

Maps, graphs, and statistics need to be memorised for maximum marks. So, I made my notes as simple and colourful possible to help me remember them when I sit the exam.

Bolding key statistics made for easier revision, along with organising notes into categories for easier reference.


Image of Jarif's notes how-i-stopped-wasting-time-and-began-acing-my-subjects geography notes


My Worst Performing Subject:

In terms of results, Maths was probably my worst. It’d be a solace to blame COVID for my half-yearly results, but the real reason I didn’t perform as well compared to other subjects is due to the lack of practice.

I discovered that after getting my June exams back, writing out notes and formulas was just not enough.

Without practice, I wouldn’t be able to keep my high ranking.

Being in the top class means that there is a lot of competition for my position. Hence, I realised I needed to practice the concepts in order to revise them.


How I turned around my Maths marks:

Since, my school has selection criteria based on rankings in order to do specific HSC subjects, I knew that I needed to change my study habits for Maths if I wanted to rank highly.

After seeing how I needed to improve, I utilised my time to adopt a new strategy of revision:

continuously tackled challenging questions that extend my thinking to reinforce my knowledge, rather than simply revising my notes.

Ever since I adopted this ‘rinse and repeat’ method through attempting very difficult questions and arduous practice, my Maths grades have improved from average to well-over-the-average in my class.

how-i-stopped-wasting-time-and-began-acing-my-subjects integer question

Hopefully, I can ace my yearly exams this time around!


My #1 Problem in Year 10—Staying Dedicated to Effective Study Sessions

In complete honesty, constantly studying is something I avoid. Most of the time, I only complete what I need to do during the day.

However, on my lazy days, I waste time doing unproductive things or become distracted while I study (procrastination!).

I don’t want to spend large chunks of my day studying (I’m sure you don’t either). However, this negligence is a great barrier to achieving the ATAR I need.

So, I have been battling my inherent desire to procrastinate through these few steps:


1. Divide your study into realistic blocks

Breaking study up is an essential tactic. this is what I do.


1. Follow your school timetable

I found that the school timetable system was a good way to plan the rest of my day, as I timetabled my study depending on the structure of the day.

For example, I study longer on days I have free periods and study less on days I have sport training/matches.

I also noticed that if I dedicated my time to study using the timetabled method, I’d have nothing left to do for the rest of the week (realistically one day).

So, this method gives me time to take a well-deserved break or take part in any of my hobbies.


2. Break your study block to small chunks

Breaking my study into 1h 30min (ish) blocks allowed me to fit these different blocks throughout my week so that I could study effectively while having adequate rest.

In these blocks, I could easily dedicate a specific subject or assignment that I need to work on to that schedule I have set for the day.

Not only did dividing my work into chunks help me with organising my priorities for the day, but I treated it as if my work was due at the end of each block.

This meant that I wouldn’t become distracted while trying to complete my study/homework.


How I Stopped Wasting Time and Began Acing My Subjects - schedule



2. Remove all distractions!

You can’t study when distracted, this is what I did.

1. Remove your phones and other distractions

There’s nothing more to it—remove your phone from your study environment entirely.

Social media and games are a huge distraction and source of procrastination.

These distractions will affect your ability to absorb information effectively and will risk you having holes in your knowledge.

You will have a constant urge to check your phone if it is nearby. The next thing you know, you just wasted an entire day which you could have used to reduce your workload.

So, when I study, I power my phone off and put it in another room.

I can always use it another time. So, prioritising my study over my phone is always a better use of my time.


2. Work on one task at a time

When I dedicate my time towards something, I make sure that I dedicate it to only that task

This means that I stay on track and use spare time to do anything I like later.

Time can go by in a flash when you’re on your phone.

You’ll get an enticing notification from one of your friends, and once you’re done, 30 minutes will have gone by in an instant.

Study time should be study time!



3. Constantly challenge yourself

Throughout the course of the year, I found that if I applied my knowledge to abstract concepts that relate to my learning, I was able to reinforce it better (even if it was nearly impossible for me to do it).

For example, when I am revising for Maths,

I like to extend my study by attempting similar questions from higher level sources.

I practised questions from Extension 1 HSC papers for similarity questions to better prepare myself for harder questions that may come up in tests.

This meant that I was applying my knowledge in different ways, which allowed me to understand different methods used to solving questions.

I applied this method to other subjects as well. This not only increased my background understanding, but made it easier for me to reinforce my knowledge into more advanced concepts.

Furthermore, it increased my attention span dedicated to studying, as I would become determined to understand these tougher concepts.

So, by constantly challenging myself, my revision was more effective.


how-i-stopped-wasting-time-and-began-acing-my-subjects - similarity question notes

An example of the challenging problems I attempted.



My Advice for Enrolling at Matrix

Since starting Year 11 classes at Matrix, I found that the best way to utilise my time is to use my spare time to do something productive.

I decided to take Physics and Chemistry during the school holidays (one intensive week of a term’s content), and Maths Extension 1 during the term.

Taking the holiday classes saved me a lot of time, since it didn’t clash with schoolwork or assignments.

Also, I found myself less swamped with work in comparison to Year 10 where I completed Maths and Science during the term.

All in all, it’s better to do a mix of holiday and term courses, so you don’t become overwhelmed with work.




My Regrets

I regret not being dedicated to study during times when I should have.

If I were to restart the year, I would try to limit my procrastination in all ways possible and remove distractions while I study.

I used to spend hours at my desk. But in reality, I was constantly on my phone or doing something else.

So, rather than wasting my time, I would have adopted my current block strategy. This would help me stay dedicated to studying, especially in the period right before an exam.

If I had done so, I would have been able to rank even higher in my school than I am now.


My Advice to Future Year 10 Students

Find a passion, or something you want to pursue (everyone has one).

It may be problematic if you don’t know your desired path, because you may end up having a ‘crisis’ when you’re choosing your Year 11 electives at the end of Year 10

So, if you still don’t know what you want to pursue, then pick a subject that interests you.

Don’t do something just to impress people or because your friends are doing it. Your future is up to you.

Make it worthwhile!


You must do these three things:

  1. Collaborate with mates: You might gain crucial information to add to your notes that you may have missed!
  2. Take occasional breaks: Studying constantly is exhausting and stressful.
  3. Manage your time well: Finish important assignments/tasks early to avoid cramming work into short periods of time.


You must never do these three things:

  1. Give up (or degrade yourself): A positive mindset is necessary in order for you to improve; you can never improve if you stop trying!
  2. Be afraid to ask for clarification: It is better to understand something properly rather than worry about how to do it.
  3. Fear failure: By learning from our mistakes, we can motivate ourselves to succeed the next time.

Thanks for reading my post!


Start acing your subjects like Jarif did!

Free up some time during your school term and refine your skills before you study it in school like Jarif does! Our Chemistry Holiday Courses break down the term’s content, and provide you with plenty of practice questions! Learn more now.


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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