How to Get a 99 ATAR in QCE: Tips & Tricks

By ATAR Notes in QCE
26th of June 2019
qce 99 atar

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As recent graduates ourselves, we get it:

One of the toughest parts of starting Year 12 is the sense of entering the unknown.

There’s something inherently different about starting Year 12 compared with starting other years of high school – QCE is a different ball game.

Sure, a few things remain the same: the booklists, the new teachers, the end of the Summer. But you’re at the top end of the school now and, ultimately, this is what you’ve been working toward since your very first day of your first year of school.

Intimidating, right? Well, not necessarily. The reality is, there are literally thousands of students who have come before you – thousands of students who have been in your shoes. And Year 12 becomes a lot less intimidating when you can learn from their achievements and mistakes.

These are five of the most important tips given out by recent 99ers as to how to study smart and find success in QCE. This is how to get a 99 ATAR.



There’s no time like the present! Studying effectively at the start of the year can really lay the foundation for success later on. Don’t know how to structure an essay? Learn it now. Don’t know how to expand and factorise for Methods? Learn it now. Nailing the fundamentals gives yourself the best possible opportunity to hone the finer details throughout the year – otherwise, you’ll just be playing catch-up.

Year 12 is all about getting on a roll. If you work out the system early, study smart, and stick to a plan, you’re going to be way ahead of the competition. And it doesn’t take much – you could simply peruse an upcoming chapter of the textbook, or get your homework done on the day that you’re given it.

This advice is particularly true for those studying folio subjects; there’s simply nothing worse than trying to cram the last half of your folio into two weeks at the end of the year. As much as everybody loves all-nighters fuelled by coffee, anxiety, and paper and pen, they’re absolutely not worth it in the long run.



About to sit down for a quality study sesh? That’s cool – but try to know exactly what you want to get done. The more specific your goal, the more likely you’ll be motivated to complete that goal. What does that actually mean? Well, this:

Instead of, “I’m going to revise English”, think, “I’m going to revise English by re-reading these passages, writing an introduction to a Text Response, and completing the Chapter 2 practice questions.” The specificity is great for a number of reasons – not least, you actually know when you’ve completed what you wanted to get done. Otherwise, the concept of “study” is never-ending; there are inherently always more things that you could do. So to make it easier on yourself, why would you not be as specific as possible in your mindset?

A great way to go about this is using to-do lists.



Make one each morning, if you can, with what you what to achieve that day. If you don’t complete one of the tasks on your to-do list – and there will invariably be days where you won’t – then don’t just ignore it; instead, make it the first item on the next day’s to-do-list. Once you get into this routine, the physical act of ticking off a task will become motivation in itself to get that task done.



What you don’t want to resemble is a rollercoaster, or an unpredictable sports team: up, then down, then up, then down, and so on. Not only is this mentally draining; it’s also just plainly not good for productivity. What you do want to resemble is the least scary ride of all time – flat, consistent, and manageable.

There will definitely be times of the year where you have to ramp up the study a little – primarily before internal assessments and the end-of-year exams. But you don’t want to leave yourself with too much to do at the end of the year, and you definitely don’t want to burn out from going too hard, too early. Consistency is key, here. Remember, rollercoasters are scary for a reason!

It’s well established that shorter, regular study periods are more effective for long-term memory than irregular cramming sessions. They’re also more enjoyable; who really sits down thinking, “I have three entire areas of study to learn by tomorrow morning” with a smile on their face? Nobody, that’s who!



No, really – take proper care of yourself.

You’ve probably heard it before: you need to sleep, to eat, to exercise. But you know why you’ve heard it before? Because it’s absolutely true. Irrespective of your ATAR aim – whether that be 30.00 or 99.95 – you’re a lot more likely to hit your goals if you’re physically and mentally in a positive place.

It’s intuitive, if you think about it. If you study all night and rock up to school the next morning on no sleep, of course you’re going to have difficulty concentrating. Then, you’ll probably spend that night trying to catch up on everything you missed. In this way, your sleep pattern is cyclical, so it’s a smart idea to get into a good cycle as early in the year as possible.


If nothing else, remember that your exams are during the day – not at night.

This extends beyond the physical side of Year 12, too. If you don’t sufficiently rest (or don’t rest for long enough), your mind will become cluttered and, ultimately, your marks will decrease. Popular rhetoric surrounding Year 12 suggests that you need to study all of the time, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Speaking analytically, it’s a smart investment to take breaks – for academic and a host of other reasons.



Because caring about specific internal results and rankings too much can ultimately become counter-productive. The smarter thing to do is to look for qualitative feedback – what you did well, where you can improve, how to better your responses. This is how to study smart! It’s natural that the mark itself matters to you, but it’s also important not to get too concerned about the raw numbers.

Disappointed about an assessment result? That’s totally okay, but the best thing you can do is not lament about the number – instead, work out where you can improve. Do this throughout the year, and you’ll absolutely love yourself for it come end-of-year exams. It’s easy to get caught up in the “game” of QCE, and lose perspective on what it is that really counts. The cool thing is, though, if you focus primarily on how you individually can improve, the results will absolutely take care of themselves.


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