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Sienna’s Hacks: How To Hit The A-Range Every Time With Proper Research And Study

In this article, Matrix Scholarship holder Sienna shares how to hit the A-range every time with proper research and study.

Do you ever wonder what it is top students do to consistently score highly? In this article, Matrix Scholarship holder, Sienna Monahan, shares her secrets to hit the A-range every time with proper research and study.

 

Sienna’s Hacks: How To Hit The A-Range Every Time With Proper Research And Study

 

Me, Myself, and I

My name is Sienna Monahan and I am currently in Year 10 (2021) at SCEGGS Darlinghurst.

A little about me

Some of the activities I enjoy include a variety of team sports (such as soccer, touch and netball), reading murder mysteries, swimming, and playing the violin.

 

My Subjects

This year I have chosen to study:

  • Advanced English
  • Maths Extension 1
  • Chemistry
  • Modern History
  • Economics
  • Art

Strengths:

I’ve always loved Maths- because I’ve been satisfied by the idea that answers are almost certainly right or wrong, and there are limited ideas that cannot be explained. In that sense, Maths has always seemed the most logical and straightforward to me- because the answer is produced using set steps that can be memorised and then applied to all kinds of problems.

 

Weaknesses:

Although I do enjoy reading, English has never been my favourite- it’s not so much the breakdown of the text itself but rather the construction of a thematic argument that I struggle with. I’m hoping that this year’s coverage of both novels and film and the study of Shakespeare not only at school but also at Matrix, will help me to improve these analytical skills and my ability to produce high-quality argumentative essays.

 

3 steps to hit the A-range every time with proper research and study

I follow these three steps for all my study.

 

1. Gather and then collate information from various sources

Whether the assessment requires notes or an essay, personal exploration of a topic is critical for a successful outcome. While it might seem tedious to conduct additional research beyond what is covered in class (especially if that double period already seemed long enough!), continued pursuit of new information will undoubtedly result in a wider knowledge of the topic to impact your performance.

For English, this meant using websites such as Matrix and Cliffnotes, along with my teacher’s analysis to ensure comprehensive annotations in the chosen text and a more well-rounded understanding of context and language use. After finishing the text, I then organised the quotations and analysis into themes or techniques to allow for easier revision using concise but informative notes.

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study English notes

A sample of my Matrix English notes

For Maths, I used the Matrix Theory Books and classwork to write summaries on different topics. When I was confused about certain concepts I could then return back to these notes, and then use textbook questions or sites such as Mathspace to practise.

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study maths notes

 

For Science, I read sections of the textbook before starting the topic to gain an introduction to the main concepts. Along with classwork, I then used the Matrix Theory book for Chemistry and resources such as BrainPop to gain a concise insight into specific ideas. I would then summarise key ideas or topics that I was less confident about to be used for later study.

For example, I made half a page of notes on the Shrodinger model and Advanced Atomic structure in my latest Chemistry course, as this was what I found most challenging in the lesson.

 

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study physics notes

Notes taken from my Matrix Theory Book

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study chem notes

My regular school notes

2. Structure study and assignment work based on time not task

I often underestimate the amount of time taken to understand a certain concept or finish a piece of work, as a result, it is ineffective for me to structure an afternoon of study based on the completion of tasks.

What might seem like a simple ‘ok let’s finish paragraph 1 tonight’ might actually involve 1.5 hours of research and 45 minutes of writing.

Sometimes, the inability to fulfil a task-based plan might encourage the belief that you are being unproductive. Which can become exceedingly frustrating when you were working the entire time and barely thought about closing your book and going off to find a mid-afternoon snack…

Instead, it can help to allocate a certain period of time to work on something specific – e.g. 30 minutes researching or 15 minutes editing. After the timer runs out there is a sense of achievement in knowing you have worked laboriously for those long minutes, despite not always finishing.

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study - study plan

And as an additional bonus: there is a definite end in sight!

A rare occurrence when tackling your workload in these senior years! This is incredibly motivating as what might be an “I’ve got to get this in by Friday” can become an “I’ll research for 30 minutes today and write for 45 minutes tomorrow, and that should do it!”

Then again, it can also help to construct a type of checklist for all your projects, which can allow you to see the bigger picture, and track your timed efforts in contributing to the larger tasks at hand.

Alternatively, if you’re finding that timed work just isn’t for you- maybe because you enjoy methodically ticking off your mental to-do list, or you hate stopping in the middle of something (when time is up), you can try splitting your work up into achievable parts: I thought that was a good segue…

 

3. Split work into achievable parts

It can be very easy to be daunted by what might seem like an enormous amount of work- whether it be the extensive process of writing a scientific report or trying to study 5 different textbooks as you prepare for exam week. My best solution? Well, it really only comes down to your ability to work regularly but minimally and over as much time as possible.

Now I know how this sounds but hear me out!

To combat feeling overwhelmed (and avoid the procrastination which too often accompanies it), I like to break down any given task into smaller parts which I know I can easily finish.

This way, you have set feasible goals which you can fulfil within the chosen time frame (e.g. one afternoon), which can ensure a sense of satisfaction in slowly chipping away at the work.

For example, rather than viewing my 1500 word art essay as exactly that, I split it into its main ideas: world, audience, artwork, and artist. Then these could be further reduced into artwork= subject matter, line, shape, colour, etc. These smaller sub-topics are fairly easy to research and write about, and can then rapidly contribute to the word count.

This technique can then be applied to hand-in assessments for every subject- whether it be English- finding quotes, researching context, analysing sources; Maths- reading Chapter 6, completing worksheet; Chemistry – draw a graph, develop hypothesis, etc.

Splitting subtopics further via the different bullet points:

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study - splitting subtopics

VS excerpt of ‘world’ sub-topic in the final essay:

Sienna’s High School Hacks_ How to hit the A range every time with proper research and study - putting this into practice in essays

Last Pieces of Advice

If I was to give one last tip, it would be that ‘hitting the A range’ doesn’t necessarily involve studying for the longest, or writing the most complex notes.

It is important to figure out the system that works best for you so that you can work efficiently to get the marks you want while still pursuing other interests and activities.

This may be a weekly sports game, going out with friends or just allowing time for yourself. It sounds unlikely but it really is possible to do well and enjoy high school at the same time!

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!

 

© Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and www.matrix.edu.au with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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