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Success Secrets

Cedric’s Hacks: How Matrix Helped Me Score 98.65 ATAR

In this post, Cedric shares his secrets for scoring an ATAR of 98.65.

Cedric’s HSC Success Secrets

Student NameCedric Barakat
SchoolParramatta Marist High School
Other achievements (academic/extracurricular)Premier’s Award for All Rounder
Hobbies/interestsFilm, literature, science, gaming.
Subjects undertaken at MatrixChemistry and Maths Ext 1
University Degree Double Degree in Law and Civil Engineering (Hons) at University of NSW

Cedric’s HSC Subjects

HSC SubjectOverall HSC MarkPerformance Band
English Advanced93B6
English Extension 146/50E4
English Extension 245/50E4
Extension 1 Mathematics46/50E4
Studies of Religion I47/50E4


HSC Experience

Year 12 is a measure of how hard you work, not how smart you are; and that’s exactly what you need to understand when taking on the HSC. However, you don’t need to sacrifice your life to ensure you achieve and succeed. Year 12 is as much of an exercise in your ability to keep moving, as it is in your ability to write out 3 essays in 2 hours. I achieved a 98.65, in the same year that I joined the gym, started a relationship (and ended it), went on a cruise, got my first job, finished 10 seasons of The Office, 5 seasons of Prison Break, 2 Seasons of Mr. Robot, kept up to date with Game of Thrones, Flash, Arrow, Vikings, Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead and went to 3 different midnight releases with my friends. I managed all this, by simply motivating myself enough to work wisely, and in a mentally sane manner.

For example, I ensured that every night, I finished study at roughly 11pm (after starting at about 5:30), and then I’d watch any one of my TV shows that came out that day, and be asleep by 12. I made sure that my life didn’t become school, study, sleep, repeat. I made sure that mentally, I was getting a break in between.

Friday evenings and Saturday nights really work well in doing the same throughout my week. I made sure that I had no study or homework Friday night – always finishing as much as I could during study throughout the week. Then, Saturday day, I’d wake up at around 10:30, and start study at 11:30. If I finished at 6pm, that’s 6 and a half hours of study, and I still have the rest of the night to enjoy my life. Being smart with how you use your time, and motivating yourself with mental breaks in between, will truly get you through this year.

Cedric’s Top Tips

1. Stay motivated

The HSC isn’t an exchange of your life for success. Giving yourself the time to relax and enjoy life should be as high of a priority as maximising the study you need to get done. Mentally, you need to be sane enough to write 3 essays in hours, and cramming and cramming and cramming the nights leading up to an exam is no way of reaching the mental space you need to be at for such a task.



2. Manage, manage, manage.

Buy. A. Whiteboard. Simple as that. Get yourself a whiteboard, stick it somewhere you’ll look at every morning and night. Every Sunday night, you’ll write on the whiteboard a checklist of things you need to get done for every single day, and the time it should take you to get that particular thing done.

For example; under the heading ‘Monday’, it might say ‘Mod A Essay (40 Mins)’, with a big box ready for you to tick. By the end of each day, you can cross off the heading, knowing you’ve done this much time worth of study. In doing so, you can work your way through to the next Sunday, and before you every week, will be a checklist of all the hours you worked, along with all the days you destroyed. With such a means of study, you find yourself with the clarity of mind, knowing what you’re going to do each day, and how much time you’ll need – which means you can arrange time to enjoy yourself; watch a TV show, play a game of League or FIFA. Time management is key for both your academic and mental success.

Now it’s understandable that not many people enjoy being forced to write 3 essays in 2 hours, however the hard truth of it is that you will have to, and there’s no way of going about it. However, what you can do, is make sure that English doesn’t get the better of you. My biggest tip for success in English, and I know this might sound a bit scary, but DO NOT MEMORISE ESSAYS. If you want to remain mentally sane throughout the entirety of your HSC, my best advice is to not memorise your essay word for word. This goes for both Adv. and Ext 1 English. I spent the beginning of every term going through my texts with OneNote (a free app), writing down every quote or scene I can find as I go through the text, that relates somehow to the rubric. That rubric for each Module is your best friend. Every topic sentence, every thesis, every question, will come from those rubrics, and memorising those, along with pre worked theses and sentences, and quotes, will make life so much easier for you rather than remembering 3 entire essays.


3. Tutoring

I’m going to keep this one really simple. If you’re struggling with a subject, do not let pride get in the way. Take up tutoring. Tutoring (especially Matrix) is the best way in putting yourself ahead of a large majority of students in the state. If possible, take up any and every holiday course you can. My school had 3 sets of trials, and we finished all the content in Term 2 week 7 (that’s a full term before most people). The only way I could keep up with school was attending Matrix Holiday Courses.

I understand how difficult it sounds, spending up to 6 hours every day for 9 days straight during the holiday studying. But put it this way: if you complete 6 hours, and finish at 4:30PM (given you started studying from 9:30), you now have the rest of the day to go out and live life, knowing you’ve done 6 hours of study. So now you can tick off on your whiteboard ‘6 hours at Matrix’, just before you go to your mate’s house for a movie.


Final Tip!

The HSC is about how hard you work; not how smart you are.

Want to Ace your HSC Like Cedric?

Get ahead of your peers with Year 12 Holiday Accelerated Courses. With advanced completion of contents before it’s taught at school, you’ll be better prepared for your school assessments. Learn more about Year 12 Holiday Accelerated Courses.


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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