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Minseo’s Hacks: How I Ranked 1st for HSC Trials in All My Courses 🥇!

In this article, Minseo shares her secrets for planning for exams, organising herself, and prioritising the right content that helped her rank 1st in her HSC Trial exams.

In this article, Illawarra Grammar School student and Matrix Almunus Minseo Kang explains how she ranked 1st in all her courses!


Me, Myself and I


Minseo Kang



The Illawarra Grammar School


HSC Subjects:

  • English Advanced
  • English Extension
  • Maths Extension 1
  • Maths Extension 2
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Best Subject:

  • Maths Extension 2

Favourite Subject

  • Mathematics


My dream career is to be a psychiatrist

Nothing compels me more than the complex and enigmatic nature of the human mind.

The obscure internal conflicts that we go through in our everyday lives and the way in which we perceive reality through a subjective lens of our unique experiences, are what allure me to the field of Psychology.


My Year 12 experience

Before I describe my learning process this year, I would like to address that everybody learns differently. Whilst my methods may not benefit some at all, I hope it can provide a guideline for those seeking tips for their year(s) ahead.

I went into 2019 feeling really confident and positive. Unfortunately, the good feeling didn’t last very long. All of a sudden, school seemed to matter much more than it did a year ago. Although external influences were present, I figured I was going through the infamous ‘Year 12 burnout’.

The brutal truth is, it wasn’t anything special. I was sharing similar concerns and pressures with year 12 students all over the state. I had to suck it up and push on. Now I know it sounds harsh, it was the best motivation for myself.


How I ranked 1st for HSC Trials in all my subjects

For my HSC trials, I ranked 1st in all my subjects. This was made possible by studying the right content. I wrote my study notes early on and as the dates drew nearer to my trials, I did every practice paper that I could get my hands on.

Let me tell what that involved in detail.

1. Keep a diary or planner

Electronic or hard copy, it helps you stay aware of how best to manage your time.

For myself, I had three different diaries:

1. Monthly: Here I put the main events happening throughout the month (eg. Sports carnival, excursion, assessment due date, etc.)


2. Weekly: I created a weekly planner for every term that briefly outlined my schedule.


3. Daily: Bullet points of what I needed to achieve each day

Sometimes I would procrastinate by listing what I had to get done instead of actually putting it to action (I then justified myself by thinking that it was progressive procrastination, anyways, I digress). At least by the end of the day, I knew what I had to get done tomorrow.



2. Write notes at least two weeks before the exam

The two weeks prior to an exam is there for polishing your knowledge. Not learning new content.

By no means take this advice as ‘I’ve started too late so there’s no point of writing notes now’.

The point I’m trying to get across is that you rarely absorb sufficient information from reading over notes, rather it comes from writing them.

By the same token, you should write your own notes. Looking at somebody else’s work will not benefit you in any way shape or form.

Here is what my physics notes looked like:


Image: My Physics notes


3. Plan and practise for exam conditions

This should be common knowledge but is also the best advice I can give.

Exam questions are different to the generic textbook questions.

Exam conditions are different to taking rest breaks and jumping onto social media when you’re tired.

Go through image training of how you’ll perform in exams. It will assist you to be calm and collected as well as cutting time. What do I mean?

For example, I utilised my reading time during the HSC by opening up my writing booklets whilst I was reading the questions. Yes, it may have only cut 3 seconds max but at least I was ready on the dot.


4. Try to focus closely on content that NESA loves to test.

It is important that you remember that you’re ultimately preparing for an exam set by NESA, not your school.

Do NOT ignore aspects of the syllabus because the school has overlooked it.

The class of 2019 was the first to sit an exam for the new syllabus content for English, Chemistry and Physics. Unfortunately, the state wasn’t on the same page.

For example, whilst some schools focused heavily on ‘Module C: The Craft of Writing’ by distributing an entire term for analysing prescribed texts, I know other schools brushed over the content.

Similarly, drawing on my experiences from Chemistry, it was frustrating to discover that NESA had dedicated a whole page on standard potentials that was completely unnecessary as galvanic cells were not tested in the HSC. Likewise, don’t waste your time trying to memorise the H-NMR chemical shift data because they only provided it for the C-NMR. And for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry, you’re not missing out on much.



5. Work hard. Play hard. Relax hard.

Get the best of both worlds!

When you’re resting, allow yourself to relax. When you’re studying, get rid of distractions and stay focused.

I’m a firm believer that sleep boosts your exam performance!

I prioritised getting enough rest over cramming in extra details that would cause me to stress. The night before an exam is when I would do least hours of studying.

If I was feeling very nervous, I’d briefly go through my notes but nothing more.


Want to ace all your exams like Minseo 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 courses 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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