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Sienna’s Hacks: Accelerate Maths Without Slowing Down Year 11

Accelerated HSC subjects seem great until your Year 11 marks start dropping. But there is a solution -- read on to learn more!

Are you worried that doing accelerated HSC subjects will negatively impact your Year 11 marks? See how Sienna accelerates Maths without slowing down Year 11.


Me, Myself, and I

Name: Sienna Monahan

School: SCEGGS Darlinghurst

Grade: Year 11

ATAR goal: 99.95

University goal: Law/ Commerce

A little about me

Aside from Matrix… I like playing team sports (I’m trying soccer this term), enduring (not exactly enjoying) Duke of Ed hikes with my friends, and helping manage our school newspaper as part of the editorial team.

My subjects/Results

  • Year 12 Maths Advanced
  • Year 11 Maths Extension
  • English Advanced
  • Chemistry
  • Modern History
  • Economics
  • Visual Arts

My School life

So far, I’m finding Year 11 to be a big step up from Year 10. Probably more than I had expected. But, I’m really enjoying all of my classes and I’m finding the content a lot more interesting seeing as I’m now able to choose what I can study at school.

I am pro at:


I love how maths is methodical. That is, you can continue to apply a basic understanding of key concepts to a multitude of problems. I also find that the distinct right and wrong nature of problems makes it easier to achieve academic goals.


In studying art, I appreciate the break from regular learning methods. We do practical work, as well as the conceptual and material freedom for these works moving into the senior years. I also think that art is ever-changing and requires a different approach to any other subject. It keeps it relevant and interesting to study.


I enjoy modern history as I find it interesting to examine the effects of real-life events (that happened not so long ago) on present society. Also, I like how history is actually quite subjective. It introduces a lot of grey into what might be perceived as black and white. So, we need to understand that it can be interpreted in various ways through different lines of argument.

Sienna’s Hacks Accelerate Maths Without Slowing Down Year 11

I struggle with:


I generally struggle with writing in enough analytical detail within a given time frame. To improve, I have tried to use supplementary readings and research into the context of my chosen text.

I’ve also increased the number of practice papers completed before the exam. I don’t necessarily write full essays, but I brainstorm how to adjust my interpretation of the text to accommodate different questions.


So many aspects of the economics course are interconnected. As a result, I find it difficult to concisely convey cause and effect under exam conditions. That is, while still maintaining a sufficient ratio of economic theory to real-life examples.

To get better, I compile succinct notes for every topic. I also include any extra information from relevant current events or articles I have read. This could be anything like how the effects of price ceilings on the Venezuelan economy relate to ‘Market Failure in Provision of G/S.’

Additionally, before entering an exam I try to write and learn a comprehensive practice paper that includes various statistics and theory to condense my understanding of the topic.


Why I chose to accelerate Maths in Year 11

It allows me to gain exposure to the HSC process one year in advance

Even if it’s only for one subject, I think it has been valuable to understand how to prepare for these assessments before I need to do so for every course I take next year.

I’ll have more time in Year 12

Additionally, I’m hoping that accelerating maths will relieve some extra pressure next year (despite the heavy workload during Years 10-11) as I can bank 2 units to devote any extra time/ free periods to my other studies.

The pros of studying Accelerated Maths in Year 11

Our Maths class has remained mostly the same over the past 5 years and the accelerated course has only helped bring us closer. We are all sharing notes and tricks in a really great learning environment. Additionally, the accelerated course has allowed me to prioritise maths without the pressure of HSC assessments for my remaining subjects. So, I am able to devote a significant amount of time to studying the HSC course.

The challenges of studying Accelerated Maths in Year 11

The biggest difficulty of accelerating for me is juggling my regular Year 11 work with Year 12 Maths. Although I am inclined to prioritise studying for any Year 12 tasks (as ultimately they are what counts this year), it is still important to perform well in my other subjects in anticipation of next year.

In addition, in order to cover all the necessary content for both Year 11 and 12 in any given term, our class must move pretty quickly, and I’ve had to become more efficient in making notes and in time management to ensure I can finish all my schoolwork and complete supplementary practice papers for Year 12.

How I’m preparing for the HSC Maths Trial while I’m Year 11

I have completed comprehensive notes with relevant examples for every topic.

Rather than leaving this to the holidays or before the exam period, I aim to make notes alongside learning content to ensure I fully understand what I am writing and can explain concepts well. This way they are likely to be more comprehendible if I need to relearn something before an assessment task.

I have completed a range of discrete revision sheets that focus on specific topics

These could be pulled from Matrix Workbooks for any particular lesson, from textbooks as chapter tests, or from online platforms such as Mathspace or CambridgeHOTMaths.

Finally, I have been doing practice trial papers from my school and others

These are done under exam conditions. Afterward, I compare time and mark to record how efficiently I am completing the papers to indicate how ready I am for the real HSC Trial exam for Maths.

How I accelerate maths without slowing down Year 11

I put in a bit of extra effort during the term

For my Year 11 Half Yearly exams, I usually start by consolidating and revising my notes before completing past papers. I aim to write notes throughout the term and try to finish editing all notes at least 2 weeks before the exam. This is meant to reduce the pressure and workload when exams swing around and give me sufficient time to effectively absorb the material.

My preparation for half-yearlies differs from regular exams as it must cover also cover the syllabus outcomes from the previous term. As a result, I try to review past exams to recognise certain topics to prioritise, making notes of my previous weaknesses.

I use a wide variety of resources

In terms of resources, I use both the Matrix Workbooks and Theory Books, past papers provided by school, and additional papers off the internet. I also refer back to any notes I have made, and apply my understanding to a variety of questions. These questions can come from the textbook, or online resources such as Mathspace, Edrolo or Cambridge HOTmaths.

Sienna’s Hacks Accelerate Maths Without Slowing Down Year 11

I make sure I learn from my mistakes

First, I try to actively recognise which aspects of the course I least understand. To relearn content in these areas, I refer back to class notes, online videos or Matrix Theory Books. Then I will complete various past papers under timed conditions, highlighting various areas I struggle with and recording the questions in a designated FAIL book to refer back to. My FAIL book is essentially a list of all the mistakes I don’t want to repeat. I duplicate this process until I feel confident with the material and am then ready for the assessment.

I get ahead during the holidays

In the recent school holidays, I took the Chemistry Accelerated Holiday course. We covered over a term’s worth of content over 5 days before completing a topic test on the last day to consolidate everything we learned. As I had yet to cover these concepts at school, attending the holiday course allowed me to get ahead of my peers by a couple of modules. That meant I could begin revising early for upcoming half-yearly exams.

I could use the notes I made throughout the holiday course and start doing practice papers while simultaneously relearning everything at school to solidify my understanding of the course. Furthermore, by completing the holiday course, I now have a free afternoon (when I would take the normal Chemistry class), allowing me valuable time to complete schoolwork.

While this course was very fast-paced and took up half of my afternoons during the holidays, I definitely felt more prepared for nearing assessments. I would recommend it to anyone trying to get ahead before school starts again. In the future, I’m hoping to undertake a similar holiday course for Maths Extension 1 alongside Chemistry.

3 things I wish I could’ve told myself before I started Year 11


To commit to success in the long term, it is important to maintain your focus. While it may not always be appealing to regularly devote time to study, I think you’ll find yourself feeling less pressure when assessments roll around and the to-do list is half as long as it might have been.

A prime example would be making notes throughout the term. It’s not fun, but it’s better than condensing a term’s worth of work for every subject before exam week.

2. Practice!

Even though it is important to reread material and look over classwork, the most fundamental part of exam prep is probably putting your understanding into action. Practice papers/essays will highlight everything you thought you knew (but didn’t), ensuring you are aware of what you must work on before it is too late!

3. Achievable goals!

Setting realistic and achievable goals is critical in Year 11 and it is important not to be too ambitious from the get-go! Year 11 is a big step up from Year 10.

Schoolwork may be more demanding, exam prep more stressful and classes more fast-paced. Adjusting your expectations and goals to accommodate this change is critical to achieving at the highest level!

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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