Matrix Graduate’s Hacks: 5 Things That Helped Me Achieve A 99.95 ATAR [Academically And Personally]

In this article, a Matrix graduate shares 5 things they implemented in their HSC year to help them achieve a 99.95 ATAR!

Written by:
Guest Author

The HSC has been likened to many things: a rollercoaster, a very long, dark tunnel with an opening at the end, a journey, a nightmare and a bit of a fever dream. So, how do you survive it and achieve a 99.95 ATAR?

The best way to describe it is an amalgamation of all of these things and so much more that could never be aptly captured.

It is difficult to pinpoint which select things can be carried out to get the most out of the year both academically and personally. But alas, here is my compilation of five things that helped me achieve my goal ATAR.



1. Motivation

Retrospectively, you will come to understand that the HSC year only really matters as your direct, one-way ticket to the future career path of your dreams.

It does not stand in for much else beyond that.

I was sure very early on that Medicine was my dream career. I came to that conclusion through a confluence of personal experiences and reflecting upon what I valued most in my life and what I enjoyed learning.

From about Year 11, I was sure that my goal was to study Medicine at the University of Sydney. I wanted the opportunity to continue to pursue other subjects I was passionate about during the undergraduate component, grow as a person through university life and have a chance to study overseas (which I was fortunate enough to end up doing).

Looking back, having such a specific set of goals regarding my ATAR and university course was an important motivator throughout all of the struggles of Year 12.

Year 12 is really just an exercise of delayed gratification.

So, having what you are working towards in sight is a great reminder that you are putting in consistent, hard work now that will eventually pay off.

Ideally, you want to have completed the year without any regrets about how you could have potentially performed better.



2. Choose subjects you enjoy

Subject choice is really important in Year 12, far beyond what scales well and which subjects your school tends to perform better.

If my personal experience is a testament to anything, it is that choosing the subjects you truly enjoy spending time on, and working consistently for, will prepare you best for achieving your long-term goals.

I performed better in Biology than Physics in Year 11, but I still decided to drop the former as I knew that I much preferred spending my time trying to wrap my head around complex Physics concepts.

Physics went from one of my weakest to strongest subjects over the course of a year because I pursued what I enjoyed and knew that I could work consistently at without feeling unmotivated.

It is always great to work to your strengths but remember that the HSC is less a measure of innate intelligence and more a measure of the effort you put in.

Studying is difficult enough. So, choose what interests or challenges you.


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3. Preparation

Studying successfully emerges from a very personal set of techniques.

There are many resources out there to work out what your study method is. However, the only way to really see for yourself what is most effective is to give everything a go.

Too often, students sit themselves at their desk with very vague tasks, ‘study chemistry’ or ‘physics homework’, and repeat this on the daily. I found this to be quite inefficient and it was really easy for me to get distracted jumping about different tasks.

In Year 12 I began setting very specific goals for each study session.

For example, when I wanted to update my Chemistry notes, I would list which exact Module and series of dot points I intended to summarise.

In this way, I had a much clearer vision about what small goals I wanted to achieve.

At the start of each fortnight, I planned how I would spread out my studying. These would be more macro goals such as updating notes, completing a set number of past papers and completing readings. At the start of each day, I would then plan the micro-tasks I wanted to complete.


3. Collaboration

Year 12 was one of the most enjoyable years as the rollercoaster of emotions you go through brings you closer to your peers.

It is sometimes difficult to stick to your study schedule when you are at home and no one is there to keep you accountable.

I found it really helpful to set up weekly study dates with my friends at the library where we would complete past papers together, revise the content we covered at school and quiz each other at the end of each session.

We would then finish each session with yummy food and chat about everything non-HSC related.

Keeping up a balanced lifestyle is really important for you to maintain momentum throughout the year. The memories you make with your friends are the only thing that really stays with you beyond school life.


5. Balance

I found that it’s really useful to balance studying with the other things in life that we often take for granted.

This makes the year less overwhelming.

Admittedly, I spent a lot of my study periods in Year 12 grabbing lunch with friends and catching up with peers that I did not see very often in class. In a weird reverse, school was where I spent most of my time socialising, as I left study for home or the library.

I kept up my extracurriculars in the lead up to the HSC, including Dance Ensemble and Debating.

These gave me a chance to clear my mind of study worries and meet some of my closest friends.

If there is anything you take away from this, I hope it is the following retrospective insight: HSC success is the sum of a strong support network, consistent effort, self-motivation, and a whole lot of luck.


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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