Sydney Girls Success Secrets | High School Guide

Read this article to find out what Sydney Girls students do differently to achieve success!

Written by:
Matrix Education

Are you curious about Sydney Girls High School success secrets? In this article, we will share useful advice and hacks that our former Sydney Girls students shared with Matrix blog readers!


Sydney Girls Alumni Success Secrets:

In this article, we will share the study advice from our high performing Sydney Girls alumni:


Angela Park

Matrix alumnus and Sydney Girls graduate, Angela, achieved a 99.40 ATAR in 2019.

She shares her experience of taking an accelerated Maths class and provides her best study tips that helped her succeed in Maths.



Angela made a detailed pros and cons list of doing her HSC Maths in her preliminary year.

  • Closely develop skills in the subject
  • Get a head start over peers
  • Optimise HSC performance
  • May be stressful due to the competitiveness of the class


She also shares some Maths tips that helped over overcome the disadvantage of doing Accelerated Maths:


1. Know yourself as a learner

Identify your strengths and weaknesses to figure out which strategies work and don’t work.

Different people will require different amounts of time and different ways to prepare for an exam.


2. Use your teacher

I found that by absorbing what my teacher was saying in class and writing it down, I was able to retain the key ideas and concepts.

I wrote a lot; seemingly insignificant tips, common mistakes by past students, alternative methods, and so on. It might seem overly pedantic but you can’t predict what the obscure questions that might unexpectedly show up in a test!


3. Practise past papers

Past papers help maximise accuracy, time-efficiency, and self-confidence.

However, simply dawdling through a paper without checking the solutions will NOT help you.

From experience, I’ve found that practice papers are most helpful when completed with the following essentials:

  1. Complete it under timed conditions
  2. Mark your answers as soon as you finish
  3. Re-attempt difficult questions


Read Angela’s full article – Angela’s Hacks: Get a Head Start on Year 12 By Accelerating Maths – to get a feel of the whole experience and learn how to ace Maths.



Anna Cheng

Anna Cheng, a Sydney Girls and Matrix graduate, achieved an ATAR of 99.45 in 2013.



Here are some of Anna’s hot tips that helped her achieve a 99.45 ATAR.

1. Avoid procrastination

To avoid procrastinating the start of your task, you need to push back thoughts such as, “I’ll do it later” and “Rewatching that video of a sloth wearing an onesie one more time won’t hurt…”

Instead, remind yourself that you can watch it guilt-free when you finish your work.

Also, I found that the best way to get started is by making a physical effort to study ie.

Don’t fret over whether or not you’re in the mood to study. You just need to physically prepare yourself for studying by pulling yourself away from distractions and having your notes/textbook in front of you because your brain/mood will naturally follow.


2. Be organised

Make neat notes and read them constantly throughout the term so you’ll have learnt most of the content by exam period and you’ll only have to refresh your memory when you re-study them for the exam.


3. Manage your time effectively

Make a balanced and realistic study timetable that accommodates for both your studies and your extra-curricular activities/hobbies.

This is the way I loosely organised my time before an exam block (I recommend making specific day-to-day schedules):

  • 3 weeks out – Finish up on all notes/essays (or at least be up to date)
  • 2 weeks out – Finish learning and memorising the content needed for the exam
  • 1 week out – Do a lot of past papers and if you get something wrong, do a lot more of those types of questions or look over that topic again (the most important step!)

This being said, don’t forget that you are not a robot. Make sure you really do allocate time for breaks that are sufficient enough in length for you to finish doing something you like because hard work deserves to be rewarded (and you are a hard worker!)


Read the rest of Anna’s HSC tips to beat the HSC: Anna’s Hacks: How I Scored an ATAR of 99.45.



Shahrin Shamim

Shahrin scored a 93/100 for HSC English Advances, and an ATAR of 97.00.

In her article, she goes through her process for studying English Advanced, as well as providing general study tips.



Here is a brief summary of some of Shahrin’s English tips:

1. Read the texts several times

From the very beginning, I made sure to read the texts several times throughout the year.

I sought out copies of all my prescribed texts at the end of Year 11 so that I could read them for the first time throughout the Christmas holidays.

This might be a slightly controversial approach but I prefer to do my initial reading of the texts without analysing at the same time. In doing this, I formed my own interpretations of the texts, and most importantly, I actually enjoyed it.

This meant I was more engaged when it came to analysing the texts later on.

If you are unsure of how to do this, you should read Part 2 of the Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English, How to Analyse Your English Texts for Evidence.


2. Makes extensive notes

My second reading of the text was when I was going through it in class. With the guidance of my teacher and classwork, this is when I did the bulk of my analysis, research and note-taking.

I think that it’s really important to be as proactive as possible during this stage because the more extensive your notes are, the easier it will be to write essays and paragraphs when it’s closer to exam time.

If you’re unsure of how you should style your notes for English, you should read this.


3. Draft practice essays

Two weeks before internal assessments, I was usually drafting my first practice essay and beginning to send them to my teacher, Matrix English teacher or tutor, or sometimes both.

I found feedback to be really essential in providing perspective and making sure my essays were focused on answering the given question, rather than just showcasing the fanciest language techniques I could find. You should read this guide on how to write an essay if you need to get started.

After the initial round of feedback, I would tweak my essays accordingly and, if I had the time, resend them for another review by my teachers.

It’s really important that you learn how to edit your own work. This guide on how to edit your essay will give you some guidance on how to do it.


Read the rest of Shahrin’s English tips and general advice in her article – Shahrin’s Hacks: Achieving a 93/100 for HSC English Advanced – to ace English as Shahrin did.



Skye Bui

Skye Bui is a Year 9 Sydney Girls and Matrix student. She shares her best tips to beat procrastination and getting into the study mindset. Skye also shares her best study tips for Science and Maths.



1. Writing everything out

Write down all the tasks/work you have to do. This can be written in a diary, on a calendar, on a device, a post-it, or even just a piece of paper.

Write it somewhere that can be seen!

This allows you to see how many things you have to do and acts as a reminder as well. It also feels quite nice when you’re able to cross out the things you’ve completed.


2. Order of work

I tend to complete the most important, most challenging or the most time-consuming tasks first.

This is because I know these tasks will either take a long time to complete, or contribute greatly to my grade.

So, I put more focus on these to finish it as early as possible.

You will need to:

  1. Figure out your challenging tasks
  2. Allocate your time appropriately


3. Relax

Yes, it does sound slightly contradictory, as relaxing leads to procrastination most of the time. However, I was able to learn how to balance work and relaxation and I believe it is very important.

Overworking burns you out and tires you.

This can have a negative effect on your work and can make you dislike studying (which you do not want, trust me!)

To do this, you should:

  1. Weave fun activities throughout your studies
  2. Do other relaxing activities


Skye also provides specific study tips for Maths and Science to help you ace them. Read the rest of Skye’s articles at Skye’s Hacks: How to Get Into the Study Mindset to Effectively Use Time.



Sunny Sharma

Sydney Girls and Matrix graduate, Sunny, shares her best advice on how she beat her HSC anxieties, stress and lack of motivation to achieve an ATAR of 98.45 in 2020.



Here is a brief summary of some of her useful tips:


1. Finding motivation

Whenever I struggled to stay motivated, I made a mental (or even physical) list of all the people that were rooting for me: family and teachers.

While too much external pressure to do well can be damaging, a small push can really motivate you to keep working. Think about everyone you want to make proud!

Alternatively, if you’re a bit dramatic like me, you can imagine you’re on reality TV.

Isn’t it a bit weird if you’re scrolling through Instagram on your study desk for hours on end while the whole nation watches you?

Fear of mass judgement really works, y’all.


2. Make lists!

I did this on Google Keep or in my personal notebook.

You can make a separate list for each subject and then roughly assign some time for each. I used Google Calendar for this.

This really helped me calm down whenever I felt like I was swamped with work.

Protip: During your exam block, I suggest writing your next day’s tasks before you go to bed. This will prevent you from being distracted when you wake up the next day!




3. Beating the stress

Whenever I was scared of an upcoming exam or my overall HSC result (which, in hindsight, was quite often), I remembered that all I can physically do is try my best.

Besides luck, there was absolutely nothing else that could change the outcome of my HSC.

My mum also drilled this Sanskrit quote into my head. It roughly translates in English to:

“Just keep working, and don’t worry about the results. Whatever work you do, the results will find themselves…”

It’s a bit dry after translation but it simply goes to say, all you can do right now is focus on the task at hand. Don’t let the outcome distract you!


Check out Sunny’s full article to learn how to beat your HSC anxieties and properly prepare for your exams: Sunny’s Hack’s: How I Beat My HSC Anxieties, Stress and Lack of Motivation to Score 98.45.



Suzie Cai

Sydney Girls alumnus, Suzie, shares her tips for scoring an ATAR of 99.55 in 2013.



1. Perseverance and Self-motivation

To excel in the HSC you need to first ask yourself what you want to achieve, what is it exactly that you want to get out of it, a specific ATAR goal or a University course you want to get into.

Setting a goal will drive you to work harder and motivate yourself to achieve these goals.

Ultimately, you need to actually want to work hard, not to please others, but for yourself.


Study Effectively

When we’re unengaged, studying becoming boring and tiresome.

We tell ourselves, ‘one more hour and I’ll let myself watch the new episode of Doctor Who’, but we procrastinate and complete a few maths questions before turning on the television.

This is what often happened to me.

Looking back, I probably should have let myself just watch the new episode and then studied solidly afterwards with a clear head. YOU CANT CHEAT THE SYSTEM.


Revise Frequently and Complete as Many Past Papers as Possible

Revising frequently – not just before exams.

This helps consolidate all the information you have gathered and makes it much easier during exams, to recall small details that would have otherwise been overlooked during cramming.

This is particularly important for those pesky multiple-choice questions.


Read Suzie’s full article to learn about these tips in more detail: Suzie’s Hacks: How I Scored an ATAR of 99.55.


Written by Matrix Education

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