James Davidson’s ATAR Hacks for Achieving HSC Goals

 James Davidson - Chatswood High School

James Davidson - Chatswood High School

James Davidson’s ATAR Hacks for Achieving HSC Goals

  • About Me

    My name is James Davidson, and I’m a year 12 student at Chatswood High School.

  • My Subjects

    • English Advanced
    • Mathematics
    • Mathematics Extension 1
    • Ancient History
    • Software Design and Development
    • Japanese Continues
  • Weekly Schedule

    Throughout the week, my schedule is pretty relaxed. I prefer to keep it simple and focus on maximising the impact of the work that I am able to get done on a reasonable schedule, rather than doing hours and hours of work daily that may not even pay off.

    The first thing that happens is finishing any homework I have to do. Personal study and past papers are more important for HSC preparation, however your teachers aren’t asking you to do any of that – but they are asking you to do your homework!

    For me, most of my homework is just math textbook exercises, which I would recommend anyway as it hones your skills. Other than that, I get small exercises to do for Software Design and Japanese that take 15 minutes tops. Occasionally I’ll have essays to write for English and Ancient History, so I put much more time into those as they’re high value pieces of work.

    Once my homework is done, I get started on doing personal study. What I do varies per type of subject, but these are my rules of thumb:

    • For Maths, I mostly do past papers – either HSC or papers from other schools. I’ll do these past papers per topic, but do full papers before exams. As a challenge for Extension 1, I try questions from the Extension 2 ‘Harder 3 Unit’ topic.
    • For English and Ancient History, doing timed rewrites and adapting pre-written essays to exam questions to learn them well. I also look at what critics have to say about English texts and historical sources to further develop my ideas and analysis.
    • For Software Design and Japanese, it’s all about repetition. I use Quizlet, an online flashcards website, for drilling Japanese vocabulary. Software Design boils down to making notes on the theory-based content and keeping your coding skills sharp.

    Study breaks are important. I find taking a 10 minute break per hour of work done keeps your concentration in check and makes studying less of a bore. What you choose to do during this downtime is up to you – I like to watch short YouTube videos.

  • My HSC Goals

    My ATAR goal for the 2018 HSC is something over 97, which means I’ll need to be scoring 90s in my internal assessments and in the final HSC exams. A state rank in any of my subjects would be a cherry on top!

  • What Prime Education Does For Me

    • Prime’s twice-weekly lessons have helped me a lot in getting ahead in 2 Unit and Extension 1 in year 11 and 12. Having covered a lot of the topics in the syllabus already in the three-hour weekly lessons means that when it’s time for them to be taught in my school’s math classes, I’m already very familiar with the topic and have a solid base to improve my skills even further.
    • If there’s any particular topic that I wish to work further on, whether it be one that we’re covering in tutoring, at school or a topic I’ve done in the past, I can do that on the weekends for an hour. This is very useful around exams, as if I can get in some extra practice on the weekends with the guidance of a tutor, it’s better than just slaving away at the textbooks alone.
    • It’s a great balance between going ahead of what you do at school, and not straying off it completely so that you feel left in the deep end with the work you’re actually doing at school. You get to learn everything early during the weekly lesson, but you’re given a lot of flexibility with what you want to do on the weekend lesson to make it more relevant to your current school topics.
  • Other Comments

    • Don’t overwork yourself, because you don’t want to burn out before the HSC. By all means experiment and find what works for you, but make your study simple and meaningful to allow you to be easy on yourself.
    • Sleep is also important, especially during exam periods. Get enough sleep, work your study timetable around it and never compromise it.