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Kia’s Physics Hacks: How I Aced HSC Physics and scored a 99.15 ATAR

In this post, Kia shares her secrets for how she scored an ATAR of 99.15.

Kia scored Band 6 in ten units to make the NSW honour roll for 2017, and achieved an ATAR of 99.15! In this post, learn Kia’s Physics Hacks for Year 12 students.

Me, Myself and I

My name is Kia and I graduated Hornsby Girls High School in 2017.

I’m looking forward to the challenges provided by a combined law commerce degree.


My process for studying Year 12 Physics

Physics is a highly conceptual subject. It requires a thorough understanding and logical explanation of key principles. These are the steps I took to ensure I had a thorough understanding of this subject.


Step 1: Key concepts

The first step is reading to understand the key concepts. These may include textbooks, school worksheets and information online. While reading, highlight and take notes on key concepts that you come across.


Step 2: Go beyond the textbook

Next, it is important to understand what the physical principles are beyond the textbook explanation. If you are still uncertain after the initial reading, it would be helpful to seek other resources or ask your teacher.

I used the Matrix Theory Books which were my primary source of both understanding key concepts and practising answering questions under the guidance of Matrix teachers. It is essential you then summarise this information under syllabus dot points.

For example, here is a sample of my own notes:



Step 3: Apply the knowledge to practice questions

One of the most important steps is applying this knowledge, by attempting questions. It is essential to refine the logical communication of knowledge and identify which areas of knowledge the question specifies. Moreover, it will help you find areas that you are unfamiliar with and allow you to revisit these. I found flowcharts are always helpful in planning the logical explanation of an answer!


Step 4: Mark your own work

Once you have attempted a question, you must mark it! Not only will you realise how marks are allocated, but you can see what model answers contain and compare it with your own. Try and get your teachers to mark your questions as well to ensure you are fulfilling the criteria. It’s always good to have some validation.

Here is a model answer I prepared on the BCS theory after comparing my original answer with the marking guidelines:



Step 5: Correct your answers

Lastly, reattempt these questions and refine your answer to achieve full marks. Once you are confident with an answer it will allow you to adapt it to similar questions. Here is an example of this method:


By gaining a solid foundation of basic physics principles using this methodical approach, you can, in turn, understand more complex ideas that are based on this knowledge.


Want to ace your Physics like Kia did?


My regrets

Whilst it is important to make detailed notes for your own study, I found that attempting a range of questions was ultimately more effective. If I started the year again, I would reallocate time I spent making highly detailed notes to attempting and refining answers to practice questions.

To do the best in exams, you not only need a thorough understanding but need to be able to effectively apply your knowledge to answer the question.


My advice to future Year 12 Physics students

My advice would be to approach the study of physics methodically. By understanding the basic principles, this allows you to access more difficult concepts that would otherwise be hard to understand.

You must do these three things:

  1. Understand knowledge beyond the textbook explanation. Without this, you cannot answer questions which require you to apply knowledge to different situations.
  2. Read multiple sources of information. This helps to familiarise yourself with differing explanations
  3. Practise! To excel you must be familiar with the information and how to communicate information logically depending on what the question requires.


Written by Matrix Education

Matrix is Sydney's No.1 High School Tuition provider. Come read our blog regularly for study hacks, subject breakdowns, and all the other academic insights you need.


© 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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