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Justin’s Reflection on 2020: Hottest Tips to Stay Motivated to Study (even during a pandemic)

Struggling to stay motivated amidst the pandemic? Well, Matrix and Knox student, Justin, shares his hottest tips to stay motivated to study.

Justin Kim is a Matrix and Knox student who State Ranked for HSC Maths Advanced in Year 11. In this article, he reflects on the 2020 academic year and shares effective tips that will help you stay motivated to study… especially during a pandemic.

(Justin achieved a 99.85 ATAR for his 2020 HSC)


My Highest point of the year:

Going back to school after the quarantine was the highest point of the year. Seeing the faces of all your friends is the most refreshing feeling ever.


My ranks:

SubjectSchool RankState Rank
Advanced English8th out of 334
Physics5th out of 131
Chemistry4th out of 110
Extension Mathematics3rd out of 89
Extension 2 Mathematics3rd out of 33
Advanced Mathematics (Y11)3rd

(Goes to show that you don’t have to come first in your school to perform well in the HSC. Your mark also relies on how well your school performs overall!)




If I had 2020 again, I would’ve…

1. Be more consistent with my studies

If I were to redo 2020, I would like to have been consistent with my studies.

Even just doing one 9 marker for chemistry/physics per day (only takes about 30min) or writing one essay per week…

With the power of hindsight I realised that your ATAR is 100% an output of your effort.

There were so many dark horses in Y12 that popped off simply because they put in the effort.

I really should’ve put more effort into study – instead, I opted to study smart the night before a few of my exams… There’s a limit to studying smart.

The one’s that truly reach the high ATARs study smart AND hard.


2. Put more emphasis on Matrix Theory Books

I believe I did not put enough emphasis on the Matrix theory books. I religiously invested most of my studies on my school textbook.

However, in retrospect, I would like to have used the Matrix theory books because of their thoroughness and detail.

Once I started looking back into the theory books as revision, I realised that there were so many nuances of the course syllabus I was unaware of.


3. Revisit Matrix+ Lessons more often

To more effectively use the Matrix+ course, I would have revisited the lessons more often throughout the term in order to further supplement the content I was learning in school.

Although I was doing three Matrix term courses, I definitely had the time to revisit the recorded lessons from Matrix+.

This would have given a massive advantage in saving time.

Instead of revising content before an exam, I could have consistently watched the lessons throughout the weeks leading up to the exam. This would help me stay better prepared throughout the whole term.




What’s your study plan in the next 40 days?

1. Study with friends (past papers and discussions)

For the next month leading up to the HSC, I have been religiously going to Chatswood library in order to study with a small group of friends.

This consists of doing timed past papers and simply discussing topics that require deeper conceptual understandings.

I believe this will adequately prepare me for the HSC as the extra motivation of studying with friends will not burn me out.


2. Collaborating with students from other schools

I have also been talking with students from other schools to gain new insight on how they answer questions and their school’ approach for English, Chemistry, and Physics.

Collaborating with other schools has given me a much greater holistic perspective to bring for the HSC.

Personally, I find that it is ignorant to rely solely on your school resources as no school will have the perfect approach to the HSC.

Thus, I strongly suggest expanding your social connections from the start of Y12 and see respectively how you place among other schools.

This gives you a realistic idea of how you’ll perform in the HSC – what standard your essays should be etc…


How I studied during the COVID-19 pandemic

Our school shut down the week before our term two holidays – so, online classes lasted for about 5 weeks.

Though we continued our classes with zoom lessons, the majority of our school was in an inner turmoil of holiday vibes and relaxation.

I believe I was a bit too relaxed during the quarantine period… I slacked off quite a bit, though still managed to get the bare minimum done each day. I found myself in a state of equilibrium between holiday/school mode.

So, here are some things I did to cope with remote learning


1. Communicating with friends

We managed through this quarantine period by playing Minecraft during classes and holding student-led zoom lectures that helped with attacking HSC questions.

Outside of class, I ensured that I was always talking with my friends to stay motivated (be it via Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram etc…).

Sometimes I would even go into zoom calls just to study together because I often lost the motivation to study by myself.


2. Using Matrix+

In terms of my academic maintenance, this is where Matrix+ gave me a big advantage against my peers.

The Matrix+ weekly lessons kept me on track with my progress every week through each module in Physics and Chemistry.


3. Exercising

I focused a lot more on stretching and ensuring I got enough cardio each day simply because I was sitting down for 10+ hours due to online classes.


4. Use a routine

In terms of my schedule, I ensured I stayed “focused” by using a routine.

Though I am not an advocate for rigid routines, I found that especially with so much freedom during the shutdown period, I needed some form of pressure to keep me on track with everything.

So, in order to stay on top of everything, I had to develop a bit more self-discipline.

I studied at a similar time every single day and just forcing myself to at least spend 15 minutes doing something productive.

Once I passed the first 15min, this would naturally give me the momentum to continue working and thus complete the set tasks I needed to do.


5. Use healthy competition

I found that to best overcome lack of motivation, I needed to experience some peer pressure or the fear of falling behind.

This is what I call “healthy competition” and was something I utilised continuously during the pandemic.




If I could have planned for the pandemic, what would I have done?

If I had known there was going to be a pandemic, I would have made sure I already had a clear idea of what I needed to study for and identified my weaknesses.

That way, I would have been able to prepare each day with productive study and a clear view of my progression.

Also, I would have stocked up on toilet paper!


Final thoughts

Know that the HSC is a game where everyone starts at level 0.

There are some strategies that help you level up faster than others, but always remember that to reach the highest level, you must put in the time and effort.

While I may be the biggest hypocrite in terms of academic advice, I believe that hypocrites are the best at giving advice. It is much better to learn from other’s mistakes, than making them yourselves.



Read more of Justin’s tips:


Ace Chemistry at home, like Justin did!

Continue to get ahead in school whilst staying COVID-safe! With Matrix+, you will learn from HSC expert teachers who break down the content step by step through your theory video lessons, as well as receiving hardcopy resources mailed straight to your door. 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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