North Sydney Girls High School Success Secrets | School Guides

Want to learn some study secrets that North Sydney Girls students use to ace their HSC? Well, you came to the right place. In this article, we share some of our NSGHS graduate's top hacks.

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Matrix Education

Wonder how North Sydney Girls students consistently achieve high results in the HSC? Well, over the years, we’ve asked our North Sydney Girls students to share some top tips for our Matrix Blog readers. In this article, we will collate their top tips so you can get ahead!


North Sydney Girls Success Secrets:

In this article, we summarise some useful study hacks from high performing North Sydney Girls alumni:


Ashley Xu

Ashley Xu graduated from North Sydney Girls in 2018 and came 4th in the state for Textiles and Design. She wants to study a Bachelor of Fashion (Honours) at RMIT in Melbourne.

In her article, she shares her secrets to gaining HSC motivation and succeeding in her exams.



1. Use a Planner

I planned my work based on upcoming assessment tasks and the homework I’d been assigned. Using a physical planner helped me stay organised and motivated: I split major tasks into smaller parts to finish over several days.

This reduced my procrastination. It was easier to start, and there’s always a sense of satisfaction when you cross out an item after it’s completed.



2. Use productivity apps

I used the productivity app ‘Forest’ to stay focused. I set timers at different lengths for specific tasks by estimating how long it would take.

Taking short regular breaks maximised my focus and productivity, as opposed to longer breaks.

For homework or assignments, I would set a 30-minute timer and have a 5-minutes break, or a one-hour timer with a 10-minutes break.


3. Exercise

After studying, I would walk for 20 minutes to get home, instead of getting picked up from the station.

I’d usually do this with my study friend who lives close by as it would help us clear our minds by ending our tiring days on a good note.

Exercise really helped with relieving stress.

I continued playing sports throughout my senior years; touch football in Year 11 and netball in both Year 11 and 12.


Do you want to learn more about managing time to help reduce stress? Well, Ashley discusses other hot tips she used to ace her HSC: Ashley’s Hacks: HSC Motivation, Maintaining it to Ace Your HSC.



Coco Xu

Coco Xu graduates from North Sydney Girls High School in 2017 with an ATAR of 99.80. She is undertaking B Actuarial Studies (Co-op) at UNSW.

The Co-op program is a scholarship that focuses on career development and helps students become professionals, not just graduates. It is a highly competitive and sought-after scholarship.

In Coco’s article, she shares her ATAR Hacks that got her into Actuarial Studies at UNSW!


1. Changing habits and removing distractions

The hardest part about finding motivation for me was dragging myself away from my comfortable spot on the couch or bed and forcing myself to just start studying.

I had a bad habit of studying on my bed, where I would just fall asleep instead of doing work.

As silly as it sounds, I bought myself a more comfortable chair just so I became more motivated to sit at my desk rather than on the bed. Surprisingly, this worked for me, and I was able to be a lot more productive at my desk.


2. Being held accountable for my study

I had quite a few people hold me accountable for my study, including my friends and a mentor. It’s much harder to feign study when you have people checking up on you all the time.

My friends and I set up a system called ‘Accountability’ where, in the weeks leading up to HSC, we would write up a daily list of our study goals on a Google document. This way, with everyone being able to see everyone else’s goals, we were all more motivated to complete our individual goals.


Here is a screenshot of my to-do list for September 26th, which is visible to all of my friends (who have also put up their own lists):



3. Prioritise weaker areas:

English has always been a weakness of mine, and so I decided to invest more time into it.

I was determined not to let it drag down my ATAR. I spent hours upon hours perfecting my practice essays, approaching my English teacher for help, asking peers to review my work, making my sister sit in front of me and listen to me recite my creative stories.

If you have an area of weakness, make sure you spend a little bit more time focusing on that area – it will pay off in the end! (If you’re pressed for time, but need to boost your English marks, check out the Matrix English Trial HSC Preparation Course.)


Coco goes through other study hacks, and also discusses her high school regrets in her article: Coco’s Hacks: Getting Into Actuarial Studies At UNSW.



Sherryn Hu

2019 Matrix Alumnus and North Sydney Girls high graduate, Sherryn, gives you advice on how to use self-reflection and planning to study effectively in her article.

She achieved an ATAR of 99.50 and wishes to study Dentistry at USYD.



1. Marking, reviewing and noting mistakes

Never leave any work you have done unmarked or unreviewed! I was definitely guilty of this in earlier years, as I would simply do a practice paper and check the answers.

Depending on how I did, I would either move on to the next paper feeling great if I had done well or quickly try to redeem myself if I had done poorly. This mentality is highly detrimental to your studying, as you are likely to continue to make the same mistakes or fail to establish good, fool-proof ways to approach certain questions.

After critically marking my work, I would write down some short notes/reminders based on any mistakes I made, no matter how small or silly they may have seemed. I liked to record them on sticky notes and organise them by topic and used shorthands that would help me remember them more easily.




2. Self-Reflection

After marking and reviewing all the work I had done over the week for a particular subject, I would then begin the self-reflecting process.

This involved answering the following questions:

  • What am I doing well?
  • What needs to improve?
  • What are some key topic areas that need revision?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my current studying habits for this subject?

Here is an example of my reflection for Chemistry:


3. Making the study plan

I used a word document to make my daily study plans, organised by subject and in weekly blocks.

In this document, I would add in all the tasks I wanted to achieve over the week and on which day I hoped to achieve them by.

I used different colours as an indication of whether I was able to achieve my goals:

  • Green for complete
  • Yellow for started but incomplete
  • Red for tasks I did not get to start

The ‘progress notes’ I included helped me keep track of what question I was up to and ensured that I would not leave anything unattempted.


If you want to read the rest of Sherryn’s self-reflection and planning advice, check out her article: Sherryn’s Hacks: How To Use Self-Reflection and Planning To Study Effectively.

She also shares highly useful subject specific study advice for English Advance and English Ext I, Maths Ext 1 & II, and the Sciences.




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.

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