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QLD 99 ATAR student answers common QCE questions [PART 1]

By ATAR Notes - QCE in QCE
1st of March 2021
How to get a 99 ATAR - Queensland - ATAR Notes

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In this article, we chat with recent Queensland ATAR graduate Rishi, who recently completed QCE with an ATAR of 99.90. This result made Rishi one of the highest-scoring QCE graduates in the state.

This article is PART 1 of an interview with Rishi, focusing on a range of study and QCE-related issues and tips. Many students enter Year 12 with high aspirations, hoping to achieve the best possible ATAR they can. If that sounds like you, or if you’re looking to improve your QCE marks across the year (no matter what ATAR you’re aiming for), this article is for you.

When available, PART 2 of the interview will be published here – keep an eye out! PART 2 will cover QCE expectations, Rishi’s best study and QCE tips, how to revise for external exams, and post-QCE life.





ATAR Notes: Rishi, thanks so much for joining us in this interview – and congratulations on your amazing QCE results. You were in the very first cohort (Class of 2020) to graduate with an ATAR after the switch from the OP system. How did you find the transition from the OP system to the ATAR system, and how did it affect you?

Rishi: Personally, I loved the change.

I think the ATAR system – while imperfect – is a far fairer system than the OP system. It really allows students to put their learning first, and provides the opportunity for dedicated students to collaborate with who they want, on their own terms. I would say it likely did make the year quite stressful at times – primarily before big 50% tests – but it also made the year more enjoyable with only four assessment items the whole year.

For how it affected me, I can’t really provide a perfect answer as I never went through the OP system, but I could see that compared to my brother who graduated in 2014, I had a fair bit less work than he did. This essentially freed me up to do more social activities and extracurriculars.


🚨  For more information on how the QLD ATAR is calculated,
and how the QCE system works, click here


ATAR Notes: Given your cohort was the first to experience the change, did you feel at all disadvantaged by the move to the ATAR? Did you see it as something new and exciting? 

Rishi: I definitely did not feel disadvantaged by the move. I think it’s most certainly an advantage for those who are willing to put the effort in and really work for what they want.

As for it being exciting, I don’t think I knew too much about it when I started, but I knew that it was a fairer system – so I would say I was excited to see how it panned out over the year.


ATAR Notes: The final year of high school is always interesting, and can sometimes be daunting for new Year 12 students. How did you feel prior to Year 12?

Rishi: This is a complicated question because honestly, I felt a lot of things.

Without getting into too much detail, my ex-girlfriend had just broken up with me, so that was hard to deal with. I was also very nervous coming into a year that I knew would be stressful.

That being said, I was excited to meet and hang out with all my friends again, as well as doing all the extracurriculars that I was keen on doing throughout the year. But then coronavirus started getting big, and so that was honestly a bit devastating. But also I was excited to get my final year over and done with.

So, in all, there was a cacophony of emotions, but when I look back, I wish I had just known one thing: it’ll all work out in the end.

How to get a 99 ATAR in QCE

While I was stressed, I now realise that I had no reason to be. Year 12 was one of the most enjoyable years of my life, and I loved every minute of it – even the crappy online Zoom calls. So my advice is to not stress – don’t worry, and just enjoy the immaculate vibe that Year 12 will bring.


ATAR Notes: Okay, great. So let’s fast forward a little to your actual Year 12 year. No doubt you would have faced a heap of new QCE-related jargon, particularly given the brand new ATAR system. For those currently in QCE, or for those who will be in the future, do you have any advice on how to deal with the new terminology? What resources were best for you?

Rishi: Your first port of call for questions like these should be the QCAA syllabus, and particularly the glossary at the bottom of each syllabus. These syllabuses are literally where jargon words are defined and explained fairly clearly. If they still aren’t clear, just shoot your teacher an email, and they can usually hep.

If that doesn’t help, which it sometimes won’t, consult Google. While it won’t provide the best answer, I think it should be good enough to give you clarification on what the word or phrase means, even if it’s not super specific to your subject. You can also ask any questions you have in the QLD-specific section of the ATAR Notes Forums, to see if past or present QCE students can help.


🚨  Check out these sections of the ATAR Notes Forums  🚨
QCE subject help | QCE general discussion | QLD technical scores | QTAC discussion


ATAR Notes: You mentioned earlier that Year 12 was one of the most enjoyable years of your life. How did that look on a day-to-day basis? What was your daily routine?

Rishi: I usually woke up pretty early (around 6am) to get ready for school – transport to school usually took 45 minutes, and we startd at 8.15am. If I had training in the morning, it would be a 5am wake up, and then get to school by 6.30am. Then, until 3.10pm, I was working really hard in school, making sure to ask teachers for help, and taking food breaks at morning tea, lunch, and between classes.

By this point, if you work hard through school, you have pretty much done 5-6 hours of work. I usually had training or weights room training after school until 5.30pm or 6pm, so I got home at 6.30pm-ish. I would have dinner and get freshened up until about 8.00pm, then watch YouTube until 9.00pm, and then sleep.

Usually I didn’t have much work to do outside of school, because I would be doing six hours per day in class every weekday.

How to maximise QCE ATAR - Year 12 - ATAR Notes

For weekends, I had sport fixtures on the whole day on Saturday, and I was very tired by the end, so I would try not to work and just rest my body and brain. And then on Sunday, I would usually try to go out with friends for lunch or for some outdoor activity (I really enjoyed rock climbing), and then maybe do around three hours of hard work.

In all, I didn’t do too much outside of school, but if you count up the hours, I was doing over 30 hours of hardcore work a week – which is more than enough to get above a 99 ATAR in my opinion. I would also say that many students may have worked more than I did, but when I worked I was very efficient; I didn’t get distracted easily, and I stayed focused and on task with only short five minute chatting or food breaks every hour.


ATAR Notes: Awesome. What about study resources? What did you use mostly for your study in order to the great marks you did?

Rishi: There were quite a few. Things like:

ATAR Notes free QCE lectures
ATAR Notes forums and free notes
Online platforms such as Anki, Kahoot, and Quizlet
Total Education practice papers
Neap practice papers
School-provided worksheets
QCAA mock papers


In general, my advice is to use as many types of resources from as many sources as possible. Use whatever you can find. ATAR Notes in particular is a great place to get free notes and article guides.


This concludes PART 1 of our interview with Rishi – 99+ QLD ATAR achiever. Keep an eye out for PART 2, which will cover QCE expectations, Rishi’s best study and QCE tips, how to revise for external exams, and post-QCE life.


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