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Kaitlyn’s Hacks: How I Timetabled My Way to HSC Success

Are you always doing your assessments last minute? Are you always cramming the night before exams? Well, read this article to find out how you can change this to save unnecessary stress!

Sefton High School graduate and Matrix Alumni, Kaitlyn Ngo, shares her top tips to stay organised by using HSC study timetables and getting ahead in her studies.


Me, Myself and I:


Kaitlyn Ngo


Sefton High School

Dream Career:

I have always dreamed of having a job in the medical field. This arises from my passion and enjoyment of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.


My HSC Subjects

  • English Advanced
  • English Extension 1
  • Maths Advanced
  • Maths Extension 1
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

My best performing subjects were Biology and English (Advanced and Extension 1).

My worst performing subject was Maths Extension 1.


Timetabling my way to HSC Success!

Preparing for the HSC marathon requires motivation, time and the occasional fun!

Remember, study smart NOT study hard!

These were the techniques I used to conquer my HSC:


1. Create daily to-do lists

Being aware of the amount of work I could realistically complete in one day enabled me to divide my assigned tasks efficiently and effectively.

I created a spreadsheet to organise my to-do lists throughout the year.

This allowed me to designate reasonable components of work to specific days, whilst also being aware of upcoming assessments and my weekly Matrix lessons.


Image: One of my ‘Week at a Glance’ tables I created during my HSC year



2. Create mini-goals at the end of each week

I also encouraged myself to make mental weekly mini-goals such as ‘ Finish my Chemistry Depth Study Practical Notes’ or ‘Be ready and prepared for next week’s Biology and Physics Tasks’.

These small manageable goals ensured that I was motivated throughout the week to complete the tasks that I assigned.

Furthermore, I made sure these mini-goals would contribute to my overall HSC goal:

‘To work the best of my ability and finish my HSC year with no regrets!’


3. Writing notes

Throughout my HSC year, I summarised the concepts and contents studied in class after each weekly Matrix lesson. This ensured that I didn’t fall into the vicious cycle of ‘cramming’.

You will find that writing notes is especially important for Chemistry, Biology, and Physics as you can effectively address each syllabus dot point.

I was able to recall important aspects of the class demonstrations and experiments that were regularly assessed in my school exams and the HSC.

Personally, weekly self-typed notes for each subject were the most effective!

At the conclusion of each term at Matrix, I would spend my holidays refining my completed module notes by using them to answer a variety of exam-style questions.

In some cases, I would also hand in my notes to my Matrix teachers for feedback on areas that needed clarification.


Image: Feedback I received from my Matrix Teacher on my Working Scientifically Skills Notes



4. Not 100% sure? ASK!

One of the most powerful tools of the HSC is asking questions.

Sure, asking questions comes naturally for some. However, for others who are shy or fear being judged for a ‘stupid/silly question’, my advice to you would be:

Don’t be shy! Ask the question now rather than regret later.

For me, asking questions was a way to clarify my doubts on concepts or difficulties in the homework book.

It also allowed my Matrix teachers to help me strengthen my weaknesses progressively!

Remember, don’t pile up your questions and bombard your teachers with them a week before the exam! ☹


Furthermore, whilst completing homework, I would write my questions on a Post-it notes and stick in on next lesson’s page.

This way, I was able to clarify my queries during class revision time, the breaks or after class!


Image: Post-it Note Technique I used to remind me to ask and clarify a Physics concept with my Matrix Teacher



5. Work with Feedback and your teachers!

Feedback from my Matrix teachers was another very helpful method that helped me continually improve.

For English, I regularly submitted drafts of essays, discursive texts or creatives. My teachers would return them with enlightening suggestions to strengthen my arguments and refine my writing style.

For my Sciences, I handed in long-response answers and answers to difficult HSC style questions. I always received reassuring suggestions on ways to build a Band 6 response.

Notetaking is an extremely beneficial tool in Year 12. It had enabled me to make the most out of my time at Matrix.

By engaging by notetaking in all my Matrix lessons, I was able to gain insightful tips along my HSC journey such as:

  • Incorporating key words and phrases emphasised by my Biology teacher,
  • A structured and simple approach to chemistry calculations outlined by my Chemistry teacher and
  • Easy to remember flow diagrams for Physics concepts such as Faraday’s and Lenz’s Laws used by my Physics teacher.

Image: Feedback given by my Matrix Teacher on a Biology 8-mark response



6. Maximising your marks!

For assessment tasks, I aimed to maximise the marks by:

  • Taking onboard the helpful comments and suggestions I was given from my Matrix teacher’s feedback
  • Allocating time to draft and refine

My draft and refining process included planning adequate time to compose writing drafts, question answers or notes before my assessment.

For each of my assessment tasks, I aimed to finish the task at least 3-5 days prior the official due date.

This gave me an opportunity to read through my task and continue to perfect and refine my responses. Ultimately, it helped minimise marks lost due to small errors.

Similarly, for assessments requiring preparatory notes, this method enabled me to use my notes to answer practice questions and refine my notes accordingly.


7. Successful? Readjust and repeat!

By utilising these tools, I was able to perform well and achieve my personal best in my school assessments.

I was ranked 1st or top 10 in numerous school assessment tasks. This was a great confidence builder and source of motivation. 😊

After each exam cycle, I revisited these study techniques. I would reflect and readjust these study habits for upcoming challenges and exams!



How I unwind and cope with stress

Allocating time for me to step away from the demands, pressures, and stress was a crucial component towards successfully completing the HSC and preventing the infamous ‘HSC burnout‘.

To relax and de-stress I engaged in the following activities:

  • Recreational swimming in my Teen Active swimming sessions or yoga sessions
  • Rewarding myself by enjoying a movie
  • Taking part in extra-curricular activities in school

The few days leading up to the HSC exams were the most anxious and stressful.

Personally, the most effective way of coping with stress was speaking up about it to my support network (parents, teachers and friends) and ensuring I was well-rested.


My regrets

I can gladly say I do not have any regrets. During my HSC, I was enlightened by an analogy shared by my Matrix teacher:

“You should treat your exams (and life) as if you are driving a car; you spend 95% of the time looking through the front windows and only 5% of the time looking through the rear-view mirror… otherwise you crash.”

We all need to take a moment to reflect. We shouldn’t dwell on our mistakes and regrets, but instead, look ahead and focus on what’s coming in the future.

Learn from your mistakes! Take a deep breath and move on! 😊



My Advice to Future Students

You must do these three things

  • Be proactive! When in doubt, do not hesitate to ask for help from teachers, tutors or peers!
  • Adopt a note-taking style in class when listening to teachers or class discussions. You will be able to tailor your notes and effectively study from the countless HSC tips and tricks gathered.
  • Establish a strong support network (e.g. parents, teachers or peers).


You must never do these three things:

  • Be carried away by competition (e.g. always comparing yourself to others around you).
  • Wasting time on distractions such as new TV drama/show episodes, new video games or social media.
  • Forget to look after yourself. This includes sufficient sleep, a healthy diet and physical activity.



Be organised and get ahead in HSC studies like Kaitlyn did!

Studying shouldn’t stop because you’re at home! With Matrix+, we provide you with clear and structured online lesson videos, quality resources, and forums to ask your Matrix teachers questions and for feedback.

Learn more about our Matrix+ Online Physics course 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!


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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