HSC 2020 – How I achieved a 99.65 ATAR

Learn Marcs core study tips and tricks that lead him to getting all rounder status and earning a 99.65 ATAR. What are you waiting for. Read it now.

I’m Marc, a former Dymocks student, and I scored an ATAR of 99.65.

The HSC can be a stressful and strenuous process, but with the right study habits and a more disciplined approach to learning, those dreaded final exams can actually turn into an opportunity for you to truly display your hard-earned skills and knowledge to blow markers away.

My HSC Experience

For the 2020 HSC, I studied English Advanced, Business Studies, Economics and Financial Services, and accelerated HSC Maths Advanced in 2019. I achieved a B6 in all those subjects as a HSC All-Rounder and ranked 2nd in the State for Financial Services. Despite the onset of the pandemic, I was heavily supported by my teachers, classmates, and in particular by Dymocks Tutoring to ensure I reached my academic potential. 

The HSC doesn’t begin in Year 12, or even Year 11 – it begins when you start in Year 7. Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 are foundational years for you to figure out what intrigues you the most. Choosing the Commerce elective in Year 9 and 10 exposed me to the world of business and finance, to which I was immediately drawn. I decided that I wanted to study Business Studies and Economics for my HSC, because I enjoyed learning and studying how the financial world operates. In doing so, when I felt bored of Maths or English, I would happily work on my Business or Economics assessments without feeling burnt out.

I encourage you, no matter what year you’re in, to forget everything you’ve heard about scaling subjects! You will perform better in the HSC and even enjoy study (as unrealistic as it sounds) when you pick subjects that you find interesting.

Things that worked for me

Subjects like Business and Economics are very content heavy. In order to excel, these subjects require you to not only be familiar with the main topics, but to truly understand and recall small, yet significant details. If I wanted to achieve high marks I needed the ability to tell my marker that I knew exactly what the question was asking, and even go beyond what was required in my response. 

This sounds like a lot of work – but it doesn’t have to be. A big tip for content-heavy subjects like these is to start preparing notes very early. I started in the holidays before Year 12 and made sure to make notes even in the Christmas holidays and weekends.

Strive to be ahead of your class in content, so that when you go to school you have the opportunity to relearn and consolidate your understanding of the notes which you took a week or two prior. This is one of the most important and effective study habits which you should adopt, as it gives you the opportunity to write practice responses to send into your teacher for feedback.

That brings me to my next point: practice, practice, PRACTICE! It’s been said many times, but for good reason. Diving into an unknown HSC or trial paper was my favourite way of studying, as it wasn’t rote learning or memorising content from my notes, but approaching a question even without a solid understanding of the topic really challenged my ability to think on the spot and synthesise my knowledge of content into a well-rounded response. After I gave it a go, I consulted my notes and the sample responses for that paper and constructed a perfect response to the question, using the first draft as a base. Doing this many times, for many papers, will really reinforce your grasp on the content as well as hone your expression and clarity in your responses which is KEY to achieving a band 6.


Photos of responses I used to do in exam booklets and send to my teacher or tutor for feedback.

How tutoring helped me

I am a strong believer in that you need to take time to consolidate your knowledge, and Dymocks really helped me in that aspect. Through the REPS class method, all the content I learned the week prior was explored through insightful discussion in class and perfected through constant review and practice with their course-specific workbooks. Being tutored for Economics, Dymocks provided me with up-to-date statistics and articles that helped me improve my responses to achieve top bands.

The HSC can be a real challenge at times. But choosing subjects you like and are interested in, regardless of what people say about “scaling”, taking notes as early as possible and applying them into past papers is the key to success in the HSC. Best of luck!

Marc is now an Economics and Business Studies Tutor with Dymocks Tutoring – to join him or Dymocks Tutoring for a Free Trial Class – you can book online here.

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