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Secrets of high achievers; how to max your ATAR

Beginning the final year of your secondary education is a melting pot of fear, exhilaration, anxiety and excitement and year 12 especially, comes with a unique kind of intensity – all those previous years of study have rolled into this. Wanting to finish with high results is a huge priority for many. It’s understandable to want that idea of ‘success’ right away, but the truth is learning and achievement is a process and a journey, and dedication, persistence and organisation play a vital part.

How to max your ATAR?

Finding pace.

It’s so easy to go too hard and too fast too soon, especially at the beginning of the year when energy and motivation is at its highest for most. But, a good, steady and sustainable pace is paramount because you need to stay on top for the whole year. With this in mind, it’s also important to remember you are human and this includes many contributing factors; the physical, emotional, biological, neurological and intellectual. We are all different, so of course we all operate differently – find what works for you and stick to it by developing solid study habits early on.

Getting to know your content. It’s all too easy to regurgitate facts, but it’s much easier to remember content and really work it to its full extent if you know the content from the inside out.

A few ways to do this:

  1. Extract what you need; really hone in on the vital parts and separate them from any extra baggage (excess words etc.).
  2. Commit to consistently revisiting past content.
  3. Let your mind build its own little story so there becomes a sequence and greater context – things make more sense this way.
  4. Make it personal; understand how the content might relate to you and apply it in your own life. Or find relatable situations (documentaries are also a great way of doing this).

Practice and consistency.

Practice makes perfect… it’s true. Over time we develop habits by ‘doing things’ on a regular and repetitive basis.  So a good routine, homework habits and exam schedule is important from the get go – be time-wise; commit to solid, succinct and structured homework periods on a daily basis.

Notes, cue cards, reading and rereading are all good ways to keep the flow of consistency going and reinforce learning objectives. Another great way is to record notes on a phone or MP3 and listen while at the gym or taking the dog for a walk.  Practice exams are a good tool for staying on top of the required content, and also offer a great gauge for practicing under exam conditions and with time restraints.

Be wise about how you dedicate your time.

Often research based assignments are large contributors to our overall grades and don’t get me wrong research is extremely important, but one thing I’ve found in my experience is that it becomes too easy to ‘over do it’ by doing far too much research on any one topic. This can end up detracting from the core of an assignment or essay, create more work than is needed and leave you time-poor, feeling overwhelmed and off track. Stick to a structure and stay within a manageable and credible scope of resources.

All too often I’ve heard people saying they have an assignment due the next day, haven’t started it and are super stressed by this – understandably! Poor time management not only causes unnecessary stress levels and exhaustion but leaves a lot of room for error, sloppy writing and grammar. So, why not plan ahead by structuring your essays and assignments well before the due date; know how you want to argue a point within a topic, plan your resources and essay structure, and always leave room for decent editing to ensure maximum marks.

Comments from a high achiever

Lauren Louise, who received an ATAR in the high 90’s understands the difficulties and expectation levels that many students are faced with during the last year of school. Here are some of her simple tips for advice:

  • Regular sleep, get a solid sleep routine happening and don’t stray from it.
  • Plan a study schedule
  • Use past exams and assignments to practice with
  • Plot regular breaks with movement in between study and homework periods
  • Keep study periods succinct and intense
  • Enjoy extracurricular activities and downtime
  • Stay social
  • Stay physically active and engaged with sports

Articles by Emma Joy

Author: Sim K


Sim K


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