Read this article 👇🏽 to see what North Sydney Boys students do differently to succeed.
Ever wondered what North Sydney Boys do to score high marks? In this article, we share some of the many pieces of advice that our former North Sydney Boys students have shared with the readers of the Matrix blog.
In this article, we share some of the study hacks from high performing North Sydney Boys alumni. This includes study advice from:
“Whilst I understood that I would need to study a lot by myself at home in order to achieve the results that I wanted, at the same time I acknowledged and was also advised by numerous teachers that I should not let the HSC consume my life entirely, as it would only lead to me burning out before the final exams and underperforming. In addition to the demanding workload of 11 units, I had to juggle my part-time job, sporting commitments, as well as an accelerated Macquarie University course in Japanese.”
Time management was key for me, as I needed to utilise my time in a way that ensured everything was completed on time and to a high degree of quality.
I would suggest using either a calendar, diary, word document or sticky notes (whatever works best for you) to write down the dates of assessment task deadlines, and then filling in whatever other commitments you have each day, so that you can visualise how to use your remaining time for completing these tasks.
From here, allocate time each day for homework/revision, reading ahead and making study notes, and studying for tests/completing hand-in assignments.
If you clearly set out your time in such a way, it enables you to work around abnormalities in your routine without falling behind.
An example of this was after Matrix on Thursday nights, I would only complete homework and do some slight revision, as by the time I arrived home, it was usually past 8pm.
Here’s William’s top three tips:
The biggest challenge that I faced going into Year 12 and the HSC was my poor performance in Mathematics, having finished ranked 99th in the Preliminary Extension 1 course. Changing my attitude and approach to the subject was integral in turning my results around, as I found that my poor results had been caused largely due to a self-perpetuating cycle of telling myself that I hated the subject and that I was awful at it.
Realising that I needed to change the way I was studying or risk a subpar ATAR, I studied more; at home, always making sure to finish all homework and doing hundreds of past papers; at school, I participated more actively during class; and at Matrix.
I had never attended tutoring before, but Matrix in particular, helped me achieve the results I wanted. By learning content a term earlier than school, class time became less about trying to grasp foreign concepts, but rather solidifying my understanding of an already known topic through revision. Putting in the time and effort with a renewed mindset allowed me to lift my results significantly, with Mathematics going from my worst subject at the beginning of Year 12, to my best, at the end of it.
If I were to do the HSC again, I would have studied more during my ‘free periods’, instead of unnecessarily talking to people, because it would have meant that more time at home to relax. Furthermore, don’t forget that your internal moderated assessment mark contributes to half of your overall HSC mark, so being diligent throughout the year to obtain high rankings in all your subjects is in your best interest.
I made the mistake of keeping Economics, which I ended up having little to no motivation to study for, so I ended up just barely scraping a Band 6 with a 91. On the other hand, I absolutely loved Japanese, both as a subject and because of my Japanese teachers, so every lesson became the highlight of my day.
Much like people telling you to choose a job that you love, I think the same applies to study.
Because in all honesty, for Japanese, I could have happily written practice essays and watched the prescribed text over and over, without ever feeling that it was a chore or having the desire to procrastinate.
You can read the rest of William’s advice here.
In Year 11 and Year 12, I tried to have a holistic view of school. That is, not just focusing on academics, but also applying myself in extracurricular activities.
My highlights of these included:
As you can imagine, having such a tight schedule meant that my study time is limited. Because of this, I use the following hacks to apply my study time more effectively. I hope you find these effective, too!
A common problem among students is that everybody seems to get less sleep.This is due to a number of factors, mainly increased homework loads, tutoring/activities after school etc.
However, with my full schedule, I still maintained a 10:30 deadline for when I had to go to sleep.
This meant that by the time I had to wake up, I had at least 8 hours of sleep, which is the bare minimum for my age group. It also meant that I used the time that I had to study and do homework more efficiently, meaning less procrastination and more effective revision!
With my full schedule, I had limited time per day. So, I had to spread out my revision of subjects throughout the week. At the time, I was taking 6 subjects.
This meant that every day, I was doing revision for at least one subject.
While not everybody has to write summary notes for every subject, going over the content learnt during the week is crucial to keep you progressing through the subject, and gaining the confidence over the subject material.
This revision can include:
You can find more of Alexander’s organisational hacks here.
Kristen Naidu achieved an ATAR of 99.65 and graduated from North Sydney Boys High School in 2015. Kristen also achieved a HSC All-Rounders award and scored in the 92nd percentile for UMAT (now UCAT).
“Moving up from Year 11 into 12, I thought I was ready for the challenge ahead, but the HSC year was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. The amount of homework and extra learning required was enormous, which inevitably led to more stress, meaning it was vital to keep a positive mindset. Definitely easier said than done.
Personally, I found studying in groups to be an effective way of making studying less tedious. Working with friends allows you to not only stay on task, but also makes it easy to seek help for anything you are struggling with. Your teachers/tutors are also a useful resource, so you should ask as many questions as possible. Don’t be shy.
It’s also important to understand that the HSC is a marathon and not a sprint, so it is vital that you pace yourself. Studying too much at the start will leave you burnt out towards the end. That said, it is important that you work consistently throughout the year, whilst ensuring that you take breaks to keep your mind fresh.
You may also experience a few setbacks during the year, such as a bad result. It’s important to learn from these mistakes, and use them to improve next time. Keep in mind that the final HSC assessment is worth 50%, so one bad school assessment can be recovered from.”
Kristen explains the strategies he used to achieve his stellar ATAR in the article.
Achieving the perfect ATAR of 99.95, shares his experiences that allowed him to enjoy and succeed his final year of high school.
Before you commence your year, take a brief journey into the future and consider your dreams and aspirations. I know it is very hard now to know what career you wish to embark on, but having a goal in mind will help strengthen your attitude towards your studies, and also you will have something to work towards.
Write down your ATAR goal (whether it be a specific mark or a range) on a piece of cardboard and stick it somewhere easily visible.
Whenever you feel like giving up or procrastinating, glance over at that number on the wall. Essentially, your future is in your own hands. You have the opportunity to be successful and hard work is the only way to get there.
Time management is one of the most essential things during your HSC year. You need to balance all of your work, as well as hanging out with friends and exercising regularly. That’s a lot of things to juggle on your plate. So try and set out a weekly routine which you can get into the habit of to minimise procrastination.
But don’t make your schedule ridiculous, make sure to give yourself some time off to talk to your friends and surf the internet.
I made the mistake in neglecting English and didn’t come to realisation of the importance of English until the middle of my HSC year. I was doing quite well at all of my other subjects, however English was dragging me down.
Remember, English is the only compulsory subject in the HSC, 2 units of English must count in calculating your final ATAR.
Here’s the full article in which Dawen reveals his study strategies that helped him score the perfect ATAR.
Colin achieved an ATAR of 99.45, yet he describes his Year 12 journey as “far from the traditional ‘drop everything and study’ approach.”
My goal was to make the most out of my final year of high school and to enjoy the ride as much as possible.
“With that in mind, I maintained my regular sporting and volunteering commitments. These became a source of comfort for me, grounding and shielding me from the ‘hype’ of the HSC. These activities placed the experiences of this past year in perspective. It is important to realise that your ATAR does not define who you are or what you will be, but is merely a tool to be used. For some, it is the right tool but others will find alternatives to achieve the same goal.”
Here’s the advice he offers:
Everyone gets distracted. We aren’t built to sit and study for 16 hours a day and it’s helpful to give your mind a break once in a while. My favourite distraction was watching television shows. I chose to use this distraction as a reward for progress.
Winging your way through will not work. To succeed, you must have a plan that outlines your approach for the year ahead. It doesn’t have to be written down but it must exist. Each day of your HSC year should be arranged so that each morning you have an idea of what to do. As my weakness was English and the English exams were first, I dedicated an entire week to studying that subject. I set particular days for different aspects of the course, and I spent the last day of that week on what I believed was my weakest area.
Your plans will fail. No matter how well you plan your year ahead, things will go wrong. Something will happen that you don’t expect. It is, after all, HSC year and stress levels are inevitably high. The key is to be able to adapt to the situation and make new plans. There will be ups and downs but the success of your year will depend on how you overcome your obstacles. There is no one way to achieve success in the HSC year.
Feeling inspired already? Read Colin’s full article here.
James scored a stunning ATAR of 99.70, but even he struggled to feel confident during his HSC.
There were 2 occasions where I lost confidence in myself:
These results can be so disheartening and they were but I had a number of steps which helped me rebound.
It is near impossible to rebound from these setbacks by yourself. I was fortunate enough to participate in a mentoring program at our school and I dedicate a lot of my success to the support I received. After my poor maths mark, I recollected myself with the help of my maths teacher. He instilled in me some faith and confidence. I never looked back.
You should always look to be improving and the exigency is heightened after a disappointing mark. Work with your teachers, friends and/or tutors on areas you have struggled with. Adjust the amount of time you spend on a subject if need be.
People say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and knowing the result, so it’s important that you make the necessary adjustments.
After my Chemistry trial, I solely focused on improving the structure of my short answer responses as that was my biggest issue. That was also my focus right up to HSC and it paid off (thankfully).
This was the hardest step mentally for me. It’s the notion that you need to focus on the task ahead and not let the past dictate your future.
One bad test did not ruin my ATAR by any stretch so I know you have the ability to recover.
Show some dedication and fight. Believe in yourself.
Learn from James’ biggest regrets and advice to future students in this article.