Sydney Boys Success Secrets | High Schools Guide

Read this article ?? to see what Sydney Boys students do differently to succeed.

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Matrix Education

Curious about what Sydney Boys students do differently? What techniques do they use to study effectively? In this article, we share some of the many pieces of advice that our Sydney Boys graduates have shared with the readers of the Matrix blog.


Sydney Boys Alumni Success Secrets

In this article, we share some of the study hacks from high performing Sydney Boys alumni. This includes study advice from:


Alan Wong

Matrix Scholarship holder and 2020 Sydney Boys High School graduate Alan explains his tactics for achieving an ATAR of 99.95.

Alan's 15 Secrets for Studying Successfully During COVID-19 featured

Teaching yourself and the whiteboard

I have a strange affinity for whiteboards. I find they are a great way to brainstorm and open your ideas. I think for me, it allows me to exercise some variation of the Feynman method.

A procedure is too strict for me to follow, but I try to teach myself the content by reading it out aloud in front of a mirror and pretending I’m addressing a class, asking questions while answering them, drawing on a whiteboard in my hand.

Maybe this sounds funny, but it works for me.

The whole studying experience becomes a show, where if I don’t know something, I’ll literally say out loud “Good question, actually, I’m not sure about that, let me search it up” and find the answer and explain it in my own words.

Using Matrix Term and Holiday Courses to your advantage

I personally found Holiday courses really useful for content-heavy subjects which require understanding, like Chemistry or Physics.

The main benefit is that you can rush ahead with the course, and work out any explanations beforehand.

Often the Matrix course does a better job covering content than school does, so it gives a really nice foundation off which you can build the rest of your knowledge. It certainly helped me during Trials having attended the TPCs.

Although in general, doing the Holiday course for any subject and then learning it in school basically means you’re covering the content twice, helping you to memorise it. And unlike many other tutoring places, the content isn’t covered so far ahead of time that you completely forget it when you cover it at school.

The long term benefit is that you end up memorising a substantial amount of knowledge so when exam time comes around, studying is easier and you’ll know more.

Alan shares more of his hacks that helped him score a perfect ATAR here and here.


Tim Li

Here’s how Tim overcame poor time management and to finish out on top with an ATAR of 98.2.


Step 1: Use a daily study planner/to-do list

By not having a daily to-do list in Year 11, I usually left all my homework until the day before it was due, and occasionally had to resort to foolish measures (like copying answers from the back of textbooks). By starting to follow a to-do list in Year 12, I always had something to do, which overall made me more productive.

In Year 12, at the end of each day, I wrote a to-do list for tomorrow, before I went to bed.

Even when you lack the desire to study, even blankly working through your to-do list will benefit you to an extent. As opposed to procrastinating, which gets you nowhere!


Step 2: Find a good study environment with minimal distractions

Mainly studying at home, in my room, I was often easily distracted by my computer and phone, which made me lose track of time and stop work.

I found it easier to study at the library. Some libraries have study rooms which you can reserve, and naturally, you would be more wary of the time you waste procrastinating.

If the library is inconvenient, try a sibling’s room, living room or an unfamiliar area.

Occasionally, I went to a Matrix campus after school because it was less crowded than the local library.


Step 3: Use the holidays to make notes in advance

This is, for me, the most important piece of advice I can give!!!

In Year 11, I made notes at the same pace the content was covered at school. Which I came to think was ineffective and defeated the purpose of notes. Writing the notes took up lots of time that I could have better spent on revising them.

In Year 12, I prepared most of my notes in advance during the holidays (eg. in term 1 holidays, I would finish my notes for Term 2),. This introduced me to unseen concepts and theories earlier. Ultimately freeing up more of my time during the term for revision.

You can read more about Tim’s study and exam strategies here.


Ymer Bushati

Procrastination is one of the biggest problems Year 12 students consistently face. Fortunately, Ymer shares how he managed to beat it and score an incredible ATAR of 99.90!

Ymer's ATAR hacks

Procrastination blockers for my computer

YouTube and other websites are very draining of study time, and I found myself at times taking a ‘quick’ YouTube break, that would last for 2 hours. So to address this, I downloaded applications that would block certain websites during the day, which I couldn’t bypass. There are so many apps on the internet for purposes like this, such as Cold Turkey and SelfControl.


Getting rid of my phone

One of the most important decisions I made during my HSC year was to get rid of my phone. My phone was a very large source of distraction, whether it was Facebook, Snapchat or just talking to friends.

Unlike my computer, that was necessary for school and study, my phone didn’t assist my study in any way, but only took away from it.

So, I decided to get rid of it!

It was hard at first, and I felt isolated from my friends and peers. However, after the first 2 weeks, I didn’t even notice its absence from my life. Not having a phone became my norm, and it improved my study efficiency significantly. If I were to offer a singular piece of advice to any future HSC student, it would be to get rid of your phone for your HSC year. Yes, it is hard. Yes, you will miss it at first. But eventually you won’t even notice its absence, and you certainly won’t regret your decision at the end of the year, I certainly don’t.

Learn more about beating procrastination in Ymer’s full article.



George Ge

2017 Matrix Scholarship graduate and Sydney Boys Alumni George achieved an ATAR of 98.55. He reflects on his biggest regrets and offers advice for future Year 12 students.

“I’m an avid sportsperson, having participated in swimming, table tennis, badminton, tennis, and fencing for extended periods of time. Ever since I was young, I’ve also had a strong interest in aeronautics, and I was often glued to the television screen watching documentaries about famous aircraft designers such as Kurt Tank. As a result, I was fortunate enough to have a set goal to work towards throughout my schooling period.”


I wish someone told me earlier..

And more forcefully the great importance of English. If I had put in half the effort I put in now at the beginning of my high school life, I am almost certain that my grades in the subject would be excellent. Being more focused on actual practice questions rather than trying to memorise theory for all my subjects is another aspect of study that I wish I did differently.

If I could start the year again…

I would have continued my sporting commitments throughout the entirety of year 12. Moving from a high-intensity training regime to almost no exercise at all was a huge shock for my system, and I paid for it with deteriorating health. I also noticed an increasing lack of focus. These observations only served to reinforce the importance that having a healthy body is for the mind.

Three things you MUST do at the beginning of Year 12:

  1. Do sport or other forms of exercise to stay healthy. Do this consistently and stick to a schedule. This will also teach you discipline, while providing benefits to your body.
  2. Study throughout the term, developing notes while teachers supply new content so that you don’t fall behind when exams are scheduled.
  3. Remain consistent in your effort and always strive to do your best.

George also shares he managed to stay productive during his school holidays and get on top of exam preparation here.


Ashish Nagesh

Ashish is a 2015 Matrix Graduate who scored an ATAR of 98 on top of being a Publicity Executive in the Community Service Committee at school and regularly volunteering for charity collection.


“It is important to have a stable state of mind – your health comes before anything else in your HSC, so look after yourself! Always make room to relax with your friends and family. Taking leisurely walks in nature, or kicking around a soccer ball helped me relax.  More importantly, don’t lose your cool after one unsatisfactory result, there is always room for improvement.”

There is certainly more to life than your ATAR and marks, no matter what happens.

Read more about Ashish’s tips for succeeding in the HSC here.

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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