In this feature article, we continue our chat with one of our first ever QCE lecturers, forum administrator “Bri MT”. You can find PART 1 of this interview HERE. Bri graduated with an excellent ATAR of 98.30, and now leads the student community on the ATAR Notes Forums. Get involved for guides, Q&A, and an awesome online community.
ATAR Notes: Sometimes there can be some confusion about the ATAR system and how it works. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Bri MT: I think it’s a bit unfortunate that so much pressure is placed on the ATAR and it can become a bit of a self-worth defining activity for some people. It’s natural that when there are a lot of people who are very stressed there are going to be rumours and misunderstandings that circulate. The ATAR is a key that opens up paths for you, and the higher the ATAR the higher the number of paths available to you, but it’s not a judgement on who you are.
Often there can be negativity with things like scaling, but that’s not someone sitting somewhere deciding your subject is worth less – it’s a mathematical process designed so that you don’t need to pick your subjects based on what other students are likely to pick. Otherwise you’d end up with people saying things like “don’t pick spec, the people in that are super-dedicated/intelligent and you’ve got no chance of a good study score”. There’s a guide here that might help you out if you’re unsure how scaling works.
A common misconception I see with QCE students is thinking that all states calculate the ATAR in the exact same way – this simply isn’t true. In Victoria, for example, 6 subjects can contribute to the ATAR and one of them has to be English. The ATAR is designed to be comparable across states but it isn’t identical.
ATAR Notes: How did you first get involved with ATAR Notes?
Bri MT: I attended a lecture first, but I really got involved towards the end of year 11 when a friend told me about the forums. On there, I saw an incredibly supportive community of students and past students helping each other and was drawn in. I lurked for a while before answering a question about studying lots of science subjects and then kept participating until now some of my best friends are from the forums.
I used some other resources, like a subject guide and kept attending lectures during year 12. I kept staying active on the forums helping students after year 12 and when I had the opportunity to be someone writing subject guides, giving lectures, and tutoring I jumped at the chance!
ATAR Notes: You studied a wide range of subjects but have mostly been involved with the sciences. Why do you think you’ve been drawn that way?
Bri MT: Originally I was going to study a broader range of subjects but being at a small school subject clashes meant that I had to revise my plan. When it came to picking my replacement subjects, I thought that more science subjects would be great since I knew I wanted to study science in uni. Now, I’m glad for the additional exposure since I learnt different things about science more generally from each of the sciences.
This is something I have continued throughout uni, taking units in mathematical statistics, advanced chemistry, and Indigenous science because I learn so much from them. Additionally – especially since I’m focused on ecology and conservation biology – no one science subject is completely separate from all others.
I also love the way that science asks “How do we learn more about the world? How confident can we be in this?” and how teams of people work together to answer those questions. Science now isn’t about one lone person making a huge discovery but about ongoing conversations and research as part of a team. I think these two questions and the scientific process used to answer them will always have a lot to offer the world.
ATAR Notes: Through Year 12, did you have a routine? What did the typical day look like to you?
Bri MT: One of the most constant things I had throughout year 12 was that I did not stay up late studying. The only time I stayed up past 10pm working on school was when my physics experiment write up was due soon and I didn’t quite understand the story my data told yet. Aside from that, I stayed back at school late the vast majority of the time. I was usually there until at least 4:30, but often later. I found school an easier environment to study in and when I wasn’t studying in the year 12 room after school it was because I had music practice or a student leadership meeting.
When I was feeling especially motivated I might wake up from 5:30-6:30 and use that extra time for studying, but when I was doing that I was sleeping earlier to balance it out. I didn’t have a study timetable and instead focused on to-do lists; I didn’t have any set “x hours every day” or anything like that. I was very involved in extracurriculars (senior band [alto sax], vice school captain, youth mayor of the local youth representative council, and for a bit chairman of the local Venturer Scout unit) when I was in year 12, and I worked my study around these.
I come from a single-parent home and mum worked full time so I was responsible for getting myself everywhere and had a lot of independence with when I did things. I was used to being very responsible for myself (setting my own alarms, getting myself to school, figuring out when I need to do homework, slotting study time in etc.) so this structure worked well for me but a more rigid schedule can definitely be very helpful so some people – I just wasn’t one of them.
ATAR Notes: Thanks for your time, Bri!
This concludes PART 2 of our interview with Bri – 98+ ATAR achiever and QCE lecturer. As a reminder, you can find PART 1 of the interview HERE.
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