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Vaneeza’s Hacks: My Secrets For Developing A Successful Work Ethic

Vaneeza reflects on the past year and shares her strategies to maintain a successful study routine, even through uncertain times.

Do you find yourself struggling to maintain a good work ethic? Well, in this article, Matrix Scholarship holder and Sydney Girls High School student Vaneeza shares her tips on how she develops a successful work ethic for High School success.


Me, Myself and I

My name is Vaneeza Kazmi, and I am a Year 9 student at Sydney Girls’ High School.


My hobbies

As far as interests go, I have many, ranging from sports such as cricket and volleyball (both of which I play competitively for my school), to reading, sketching, debating (which, again, I do at  school) and music (I play piano, did trumpet for two years and am a vocalist).


What I’m really like

My friends would describe me as someone who is enthusiastic, thoughtful, and kind.

I would say I am an approachable person who may find it a bit difficult to step out initially in social situations, but once I get going, I find it easy to make friends and keep conversations rolling.


My subjects

My electives for Years 9 and 10 are French, History and Music and my favourite subjects are Science, English, and French.

I was going to do Chinese and French this year, but because the languages were in the same time slot, I opted for the latter because I’ve been doing it since Year 5 and enjoy it a slight bit more.


Reflecting on the past year

This past year has certainly brought with it some extremely unprecedented circumstances, and managing a successful study routine and positive mindset during COVID-19 has been exceedingly difficult.

My experiences during this time, as well as lockdown, are no doubt different to many of the student journeys undertaken, but I hope that reflecting on my own strategies will help anyone trying to find new ways in which to think and study effectively.

If there was one piece of advice that I would offer to everyone attempting to do so, it would be to always look within yourself to find your own strategies for study, revision or even staying on task.

Know yourself, because from there it should be a lot easier to understand how you work and function and thus the best way for you to tackle student life.



Getting ahead

I have only been at Matrix for the last term, but what I found was that Holiday Courses do help a lot, particularly for revising topics that have been covered in the previous term, but also in preparing for different aspects of school life such as public speaking or in preparing for the upcoming term.




I have also found that the open lines of communication between teachers and students at Matrix is something that is highly beneficial to understanding content – especially so for me because I am in an Accelerated Maths class and it takes me a little bit more time to understand the topics (thanks Stefan for helping me in my Year 10 class at the Strathfield Campus!).



Due to lockdown, I revised the work I had completed in the previous term for all my subjects by going over notes and annotations I made in textbooks and asking for help from peers or my parents.

This last note is something that I personally think is really important – not necessarily more so than the others – but definitely something that is more difficult than the other methods that I just mentioned.

While you should not wholly rely on the word of others to direct your study, it is definitely helpful to get a second perspective or extra information on the knowledge and notes that you already have.

Make sure to use everything you have at hand to fuel your study, and if it ends up being too much, you can always break your material up into different sections.



The benefit of these methods is that you have an opportunity with which to enhance your understanding of certain units or topics, and it can actually alert you into paying more attention in order to have more material.

As well as this, you get to pick and choose relevant and irrelevant information, and this is an essential skill for many aspects of successful study.

Knowing what it is you need to know and what is just a time-waster allows you to break up your time accordingly.

And, in last-minute study, it allows you to revise your key points right before exams or tasks so that what will help you most is more fresh in your mind.


How I stay motivated

Of course, I cannot say that I followed these principles strictly in the holidays or in online classes.

Initially, I definitely had a tendency to slack off since there wasn’t as much expectation for us to adjust to the new class systems, but in time I did realise (especially after starting a few essays and tasks an hour before they were due) that I was falling behind and that I needed to catch up and make a plan on how to tackle school.

What I think definitely helped for me was understanding my mindset at the time.

I needed to work through the ‘thick quilt’ of emotions that had festered in me from the abrupt switch that my school made from in-class schooling to online.

Therefore, I think that it is equally as important for students to have a stable, or at least a positive growth mindset (which I’m sure we’ve all heard from many teachers at school, but it’s true!) in order to be able to even begin to plan a study schedule.

What we have to remember is that however you are mentally is essentially always going to affect your physical state – be it a delayed reaction or not. For me, personally, I know that at the time of the change in classes, my anxiety was flaring up, and this affected my entire attitude towards study and, in particular, getting tasks done on or before time.



Image: Vaneeza’s study timetable


Get ahead in the holidays like Vaneeza!

Vaneeza uses Matrix holiday courses to ensure she’s on the top of her game. Learn how they can help you!

Year 9 Holiday Course CTA banner Vaneeza

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance

While online classes were starting, I found myself working until 2 or 3 AM and barely getting even 8 hours of sleep even with school at home, and this eventually led to me not being able to start tasks or being able to formulate a plan or main ideas for them.


How I got back on track

Eventually – and only within the span of a couple of weeks – it got to the point where I was not only dissociating from school, but also dissociating from family and friends in a time when people’s sense of community seemed to be growing a lot stronger.

It took a while for me to pull out of that state, and I couldn’t have done it without the constant support (and, at times, incessant probing) of those close to me, and this links back to what I said earlier about talking to others.

Ask for help not just when you need it but also when you feel like things are starting to go off the rails – or even just for a quick check up on how you are!

Do what you need to in order to be mentally and physically prepared to face challenges and tasks, and make sure that you listen to yourself to see both where you stand and how you’re going to get to where you need to be.

And finally…


My 5 study tips for studying successfully

  1. Gather and use all your resources
  2. Make notes and annotations wherever you can
  3. Listen to and understand yourself
  4. Seek help in whichever ways you can
  5. Stop overthinking


1) Gather and use all your resources

Make sure to use what you have at your disposal, whether it’s little notes that you’ve made in the corner of your Maths and English textbooks from Matrix or sheets that teachers have given you from class with extra passages or information.

Word associations, acronyms and analogies also help, especially with STEM subjects when revising.

For example, the stages of different processes, or different circle geometry formulas (if you struggle with this, I sincerely feel you — Circle Geo makes no sense), or remembering how to structure a body paragraph in an essay (TEE and TEEL are lifesavers, I tell you).

Even the platforms that distract us the most, such as YouTube or even social media apps, can prove to be excellent providers of studying material for guides and templates. As I’m writing this, I can confirm that I’m looking at Matrix’s Instagram posts for writing tips…


2) Make notes and annotations whenever you can

Your teachers will often make small but insightful comments about certain areas or topics, which can easily be missed. It might be when they provide a direct translation of a line in a Shakespearean play, or when describing a character’s mood in simpler terms.

Making little annotations whenever you can will help you understand material a lot better and can often provide with a quick reminder of small details you will forget over the course of the term.

Notes are a helpful way with which to revise course material and remember it better – with in class tasks especially, the muscle memory you gain from writing your points and notes out will serve you much better than anything you revise last minute.



Image: Vaneeza’s English notes



3), 4) & 5) Listen to and understand yourself, seek help in whichever ways you can and stop overthinking

These are all interelated! Remember that your mind and mental health are just as important as your physical capability to deal with school, and that these are constantly affecting the way you cope with school.

Trust yourself, but also stay alert for little indications that you aren’t feeling 100%.

Ask for help – from friends, parents, teachers – anyone you trust and can confide in. Help yourself and try to help others from what you learn because it will not only help you more, but can also lead to really strong bonds with others that, trust me, help greatly in struggles and low moments.

Also, know that comparing yourself to others will never help you and will actually hinder your progress in your studies and in life. Celebrate your achievements, try to stay positive, help others and always strive for the best!


Get ahead in the holidays like Vaneeza!

Vaneeza uses Matrix holiday courses to ensure she’s on the top of her game. Learn how they can help you!

Year 9 Holiday Course CTA banner Vaneeza


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, 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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