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Ruby’s Hacks: 9 Top Secret Tips I Used To Boost My ATAR To 91.00

In this article, Ruby shares her 9 secret tips that boosted her ATAR to 91!

In this article, Tara Anglican graduate and Matrix alumnus, Ruby, shares her greatest HSC tips she used to boost her ATAR.


A little about me


Ruby Napper



Tara Anglican School for Girls


ATAR Goal:

Throughout my senior years, I’ve been working hard in hopes of receiving an ATAR of 90+ into Physiotherapy or Exercise and Sport and I achieved 91.00.


Dream career:

I have always been passionate in sport, participating wherever possible, whether it’s for fitness, social reasoning or for leadership opportunities.

I seek joy in helping others to improve their own health which is why becoming a Physiotherapist would be a dream job of mine.



HSC Subjects:

My HSC subjects are

  • Geography
  • Biology
  • Advanced English
  • Standard Mathematics.


Best performing subjects

My best performing subject would be either Geography or Mathematics because of my interest in both which makes studying engaging.


Worst performing subjects

I perform worst in English as I find difficulty in analysing and using sophisticated word in essays, particularly under the pressure of timed conditions.



9 Must Know Tips to Ace the HSC

People study in various ways and with different methods, but this is what I would recommend to any younger student who is studying for any upcoming exams, such as the HSC.


1. Attend a library

A barrier in seeking my goal was that there was distractions everywhere at home.

When living in a family of seven it is almost impossible to study in peace particularly with people constantly entering my room and making noise.

In order to overcome this problem, I attended a library where I would arrive by around 10am.

You should go to the library with a few friends if you’re finding it hard to study at home!

This allows you to complete quality study without distractions. Furthermore, the atmosphere of others working will motivate you to keep going.




2. However, never study with too many friends around

It is crucial that you don’t study with too many friends or your study session will become more of a social gathering.

This is the easiest way to get distracted. You will complete bad quality study because after a little bit of work, you will  chat and do something different.

This doesn’t allow your brain to fully process through what you’re studying.




2. Take breaks often

It is important to allow your brain to refresh, so I would take breaks every 2 or so hours.

You should respond appropriately to what your body is telling you.

For example, when I found it quite difficult to concentrate (often after 6 hours), I would go home and enjoy time to myself or with friends as I know that if I’m not fully concentrated, then I’m wasting my time.



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3. Organise and write your OWN notes effectively

I use OneNote to frame my notes because it’s auto-saving, easy to use and all your notes are in one place.

Do not purchase other peoples notes because everyone has different learning methods and styles.

Writing your own notes will help you revise what you’ve forgotten.

When writing your notes, include examples that you can write in responses and provide extra detail as you can pick and choose what to include in your answers.

I do this for all my subjects except for maths, in which I just do practice questions.

When using OneNote, I have my subjects in different folders, then within them separate headings for the modules (for example in Biology, Infectious Disease etc.). Then in each heading, I have subheadings of content.



Matrix Biology helped provide examples I could use in my responses and use in my notes.

In terms of “Conservation Management” in “Heredity”, I was able to use the Tasmanian devil as a case study, in which Matrix provided me with the information for my notes (see below).



This is an example of how I lay out my notes. This includes not too much wording and various formats like tables and graphs to visually express my information.




4. Consistently update your notes

If I could restart the year, I would make sure I kept my notes up to date.

You should always update your notes soon after learning the content.

During the year, I underestimated the amount of content in my subjects. So, in the weeks leading up to Trials, I was still writing notes rather than maximising my time.

This also meant that I was trying to cram information and memorise it in a short amount of time.

This made my study a lot more stressful and demotivating.

This happened in Year 11, where my lack of organisation resulted not writing notes for an entire module of “Biological diversity”.


Fortunately, I am a lot more organised now, as I write notes on all topics (as seen in my Year 12 notes below)




5. Be consistent with your study

Do NOT cram in study and stay up late.

Your brain needs sleep to fully process and memorise information.

In saying this, ensure you spread out your study over time and keep coming back to the content in order to help with memorisation.

Study throughout the week, not just on the weekends. And work when others aren’t. That will help you stand out from everyone and maximise your marks.


Internal motivation

I was able to consistently study throughout the year by using internal motivation. I used my ATAR goal as a mechanism to encourage me to study.

For example, at the start of year 12 I wrote my goal ATAR in large numbers on my desk at home, where I would be reminded of what I’m working towards.

This really helped me on a daily basis to remind me of what I wanted to achieve by the end of year 12, academically.



Study timetable

If you’re finding it hard to finish things by deadlines, use a study timetable or write a list of things you need to complete by a certain day and time.

Ensure you create your own timetable since everyone has different study methods.

This was my study timetable in the lead up to the HSC exams, that I would effective.

For example, some may like to study one subject for an entire day, or others would like to study multiple each day (like me).



6. Complete practice questions and seek feedback

If you’re studying for the HSC, it would make sense to complete HSC or Trial examination styled questions.

You should start doing practice questions right after you learn content or finish a topic/module… not a few weeks before your Trials or the HSC.

This prepared me for the style of HSC exams while revising my notes, which helps with memorising syllabus content.

After completing questions, I sought feedback from my teachers and applied it into the next questions.




7. Use Matrix quizzes and Homework to revise and practice

Also, over Year 11 and 12, I completed Matrix’s Biology course each week. This helped me revise my syllabus content because the homework encouraged me to apply what I learnt into worded answers.

I found that Matrix’s weekly quizzes and homework provided me with amazing questions that would require me to go into depth with my answers.

I also received feedback on my quizzes and I had access to answers for my homework to ensure that I provide adequate details in my response.



8. Stay in contact with teachers/tutors

It is cliche to hear that “the HSC is a marathon”, but this statement is completely true.

When training for a marathon, you have support networks that mentor or coach you, provide meal plans and help you recover from injury.

Teachers do the same, but for your exams.

They are there to help you, so use them to your advantage.

Seek answers if you’re unsure about anything- like how to structure a response or what to include in an answer.

You’re making it hard for yourself if don’t seek their help, so stay in contact with teachers or tutors.




9. Don’t stay up late to cram study

Sleep is very precious, and as you get older you will recognise and appreciate this more and more.

Study should not replace sleep as it is a natural process that allows your body to repair and fully process everything you’ve learnt that day. Try to keep your sleeping pattern regular and receive 7+ hours per night.

In order to maintain a regular sleeping pattern, go to bed at the same time each night and follow the same rituals, this may be reading before bed or turning electronic devices off 30 minutes prior.

I maintain a healthy sleep hygiene by exercising during the day and being in bed by 10:30pm each night.

When I exercise throughout the day, I fall asleep a lot quicker and more efficiently which helps with getting enough sleep. Before exams, you may get anxious which stops you from sleeping.

To get over this, I recommend physical activity during the day and an early bed time, to maximise your sleeping hours.




Don’t leave your HSC marks to chance!

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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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