In this post, Stephanie shares her hacks for how she stayed ahead of her peers by getting ahead in English and scoring a 95.5 ATAR.
In this post, Strathfield Girls High School graduate and Matrix Alumnus Stephanie Trgovcevic shares her tips for staying ahead in English to score a 95.50 ATAR.
Strathfield Girls High School
Bachelor of Science/Advanced Studies (Advanced) at USYD
|Table: Stephanie’s results|
|Subjects||Assessment Marks||HSC Exam Mark||HSC Mark||Performance Band|
|Studies of Religion II||86||87||87||5|
This was because I had the ambition of ranking first in this subject. In year 11 I had ranked 2nd and being this close gave me the will power to try perform even better.
I believe I set myself apart from everyone else due to planning my related texts and writing essays ahead of time and before they were taught in school.
Honestly, I didn’t spend my entire holiday studying. Most of the preparation I did during the holiday was for English. I believe that the Term 4 and Term 1 holidays should be used for recharging and doing more “chill” study. For Term 2 and 3 holidays, my two best friends from Matrix came over my house almost Every. Single. Day.
We motivated each other and also were able to have fun when grabbing lunch together.
I would ensure that I was up to date with my notes for all subjects. It is surprisingly easy to fall behind, especially when assessments pile up and writing notes falls to the bottom of the priority list.
To keep on top of tasks I used a planner.
My planner was essentialI spent an excessive amount of money on a bubble-gum pink, leather-bound planner which was monogrammed in gold. My excuse is that it that encouraged me to use it and I intend to continue using it during uni. My best friend and I decorated our planners with cute stickers to make our mundane weeks seem all the more exciting.
However, I think using planners or to-do lists on your laptop or phone would be just as effective – you just miss out on washi tape.
Dealing with stress
Like most students, I was quite (very) stressed during year 12 and I cried. A lot.
In the lead up to trials was when I felt most stressed:
Despite studying for the entire year, I had still felt unprepared and believed I was facing doomsday when my Mathematics and Chemistry exam was on the same day and the day after English Paper 2.
Because they offer complementary workshops to supplement the classes at Matrix, I had booked Maths and Chemistry workshops the weekend before trials began and felt so anxious that I had burst into tears in front of the tutor.
At least it’s funny now. Use your workshops not only for going over practise exam questions but also a shoulder to cry on. Tutors are pretty cool.
Running became fun. Crazy stuff!
I only ran around once a week, but this was enough to make me feel much better.
I found that it was the only way to get my mind off school because for half an hour, not running out of breath became the top priority.
I found managing my anxiety really difficult at times.
In times of stress my study patterns would turn into a roller-coaster ride:
This is not beneficial!
I always hear of people talking about avoiding “burning out”. It became clear to me that “Burning Out” = Lack of Motivation (onset by exhaustion).
As HSC neared, I did several past papers throughout the day. But I also took specific steps for my subjects.
Do practice papers.
Do not waste time on the first few questions. Sometimes, I would do the paper backwards because I am more alert at the beginning of my study period and the last questions are typically harder. Once you find the questions getting too easy, move onto the next paper. It is not useful sitting and looking at a difficult question for an indefinite amount of time – this is demoralising. Come back to that question after a break.
I was lucky to have an elder sister who had completed the same coursework, which helped significantly. This allowed me to see the feedback her year group received from each assessment task.
I would suggest finding someone in the year above to look over their assessment notifications and more importantly, the feedback they received.
This made it possible for me to be several steps ahead.
Other things I did to stay ahead:
We all have that one friend who is a good crammer. However, don’t beat yourself up about not being that friend. I am a horrible crammer. The night before an exam, you will most likely find me watching YouTube. Allow yourself as much time as you need to comfortably revise and avoid unnecessary pressure.
Change up your study surroundings. During year 11, I was able to study in my room however, during year 12 this quickly became boring. Explore and travel to new libraries. For me, the trips to and from the library allowed me to just sit and listen to music.
I can safely say that I have no regrets.
The one thing I told myself consistently throughout the year was to make sure that when this is all done, I won’t have any regrets. I set out to achieve a 95 ATAR because that is what my course required from me. Since reaching that goal I cannot say that I would change anything.
Your ATAR belongs to you! Not your parents, teachers or anyone else.
An ATAR is merely a method for entrance into courses at university. Like the HSC, you will be the one undertaking the degree and no one else. Focus on that.
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