Kia’s Hacks: How I Scored A 99.15 ATAR

In this post, Kia Collins shares her hints and tips for excelling at school!

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Guest Author

Matrix Graduate Kia Collins scored an ATAR of 99.15. In this post, Kia shares her ATAR Hacks that helped her achieve an ATAR of 99.15


Me, myself, and I

Name: Kia

School: Hornsby Girls High School

Grade: Year 12 (2017)

A Little About Me:

I am a Prefect and have always been actively involved in extracurricular and school activities. These range from yoga to playing in the school band and being involved in the mock trial competition.

I have also found fulfilment in volunteering as a collector for the Red Shield Appeal for the past five years. This enables me to contribute to and interact with the wider community.


My school life

My goals:

My ATAR Goal is 99+ as I aim to study a dual law/commerce degree.


My subjects:

In Year 11, I studied English Extension 1, Mathematics Extension 1, Physics, Chemistry and Legal Studies. For Year 12, I chose to pick up Mathematics Extension 2 and drop Chemistry, as it was not as relevant to my future aspirations.


I’m pro at:

I am performing well at physics, as I find it a logical and understanding based subject.


I struggle with:

I hope to improve certain aspects of English, namely creative writing, as I find it requires constant redrafting and involves different writing skills to essays.


My routine

My holidays:

During the school holidays I take the Physics Holiday Accelerated Course at Matrix. This ensures I get ahead, so that during the term I consolidate my knowledge in class and do practice papers to refine my understanding and approach. I noticed that most students who were doing well at school were taking a couple of holiday accelerated courses such as Chemistry and Maths Extension 1  to learn the contents before it is taught at school.  I also make notes for legal studies that I can add to from classes at school.

Image: My Holiday Timetable

Focusing on content based subjects during the holidays, gives me time to consistently practice English and Maths during the term.

During the term:

During the term, I attend Maths Extension 1 and Maths Extension 2 classes at Matrix. My Matrix teachers reinforce important theory and provide guidance to find methodical approaches to more difficult questions.

Image: My Term Timetable


Before my trials:

During the July school holidays, I attended the English Advanced Trial Exam Prep Course at Matrix to develop my creative writing skills and refine my understanding of the English Advanced HSC modules. With daily feedback, I was able to take my essays to the next level.

I fight distractions by:

Often I can get distracted when I take study breaks. To prevent this, I have a timer app on my phone with allocated study and break intervals that keeps me accountable. For example, I work for one and a half hours, then take a 15 minute study break.

I also:

Transitioning from year 11 to year 12, I limited the amount of extra-curricular activities I participated in so that I could balance studying with my responsibilities as a Prefect. However, I was committed to maintaining physical health by going for 30 minute runs – usually once every two days.


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Exam preparation

I prepare for exams by:

I always make notes as early as possible then add to them throughout the term. This enables me to attempt as many practice papers as possible, refining my approach and time management during exams.

Ultimately, tests cannot cover all the content you learn in class, so it is important to become familiar with the types of questions that are usually asked.

  • Specifically, for English I brainstorm different types of questions that could be asked for each module and come up with plans and practice essays for each. I then do timed 40 minute practice essays and get feedback on these by Matrix teachers or school teachers.
  • For Maths, I look over tabbed questions in my Matrix theory book of harder questions then do as many practice papers as possible under time constraints. I mark the papers and rewrite questions I got wrong into a separate exercise book to prevent recurring mistakes.
  • When studying for physics, I look at the Matrix Workbooks for guidance on structuring answers. I then complete past HSC paper questions under timed conditions.
  • Preparation for legal studies involves drafting many essay plans and practicing responding to essay questions from different parts of the syllabus for all the modules.


My achievements

I was honoured to be invited as a Matrix Scholarship student this year. The opportunities and mentoring under this program have allowed me to succeed in my academic endeavours.

It was also really exciting to be elected as a Prefect for 2017 and undertake a leadership role within the school. Working alongside other talented and dedicated peers to contribute to the school and wider community has been both enlightening and rewarding.

Winning the Grand Final of the Kirby Cup High School Mooting Competition was also memorable, as it allowed me to gain real insight into the legal profession.


My regrets

My biggest regret in Year 12 was not implementing an effective study routine in Year 11.

I wish someone told me earlier to make the most of my teachers and approach them for help or feedback. They have knowledge and experience to give you advice if you ask for it.

If I could start the year again I would have greater confidence in my abilities and continue to maintain a positive outlook throughout the year. Although stressful, it has been the best year of my high school experience.


My advice to future Year 12 Students

Three things you MUST do at the beginning of Year 12:

  1. Stay motivated by setting personal goals. The only way to keep motivated throughout the year is if you actively work towards a goal, whether that be a university course or career path. Year 12 is definitely challenging but also rewarding if you are willing to work hard.
  2. Consistency is key. Develop a study plan that works for you and stick with it. The only way to get better at something is to constantly practice, this also means that you should spend more time on your weakest subjects as your results encompass how well you do overall.
  3. Limit stress by staying organised! Year 12 can get very stressful, so it is important to ensure you plan ahead of times of increased stress, such as exams. Being organised also means allotting time to relax. It is unrealistic to expect that you can study non-stop, and being able to study effectively requires you to have times to refresh.

Three things you MUST NOT do at the beginning of Year 12:

  1. Don’t procrastinate! Putting things off can be detrimental for the long term. Limit stress by working incrementally towards certain tests or assignments. This also means staying up to date with homework.
  2. Don’t lose momentum! Keep in mind the end goal and don’t get disheartened by disappointing test results, use it to push you to work harder.
  3. Don’t neglect English. To excel it requires a lot of work, that includes reading, re-reading, analysing and drafting essays. English is the only subject that must count towards your ATAR so try and engage with the texts you study and choose related texts that you find interesting.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a Matrix scholarship student? Learn more about our scholarship program and the application process, here.

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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