Article By Stuart Sutton
Maximising your ATAR
Australia is the only country in the world that considers only a single number for your University application. That is why it is paramount that in Year 12 you knuckle down and do your best to maximise your ATAR, so that you don't miss out on your dream course! The ATAR is a percentile value, the numerical value is what percentage of the state you scored higher than. Which means that every student is put in a line from best to worst. Universities will look at the line and make offers in descending order. Which means that in principle it is simple to get to the front of the ATAR queue, find out what other students are doing, then do it better.

'High Scaling' Subjects
You will have heard that some subjects will give you higher scaled scores, these include languages, science and maths. This is true; however, that does not imply that they are essential for a high ATAR.

These subjects are hard, that's why they scale better. If you enjoy these subjects and/ or do well in them, then go ahead. You will benefit greatly! But, if you don't enjoy them and/ or don't do so well, then perhaps you shouldn't. This is because scaling may not offset against poor performance.

You are more likely to do well in subjects that you enjoy. Further, if you don't enjoy these subjects or you struggle with them, then they are likely to consume your time and energy at the detriment of your other subjects and your ATAR. My advice would be, do what you enjoy and what you are good at, as this will maximise your motivation and efficiency which will translate to superior results.
Study Skills
There is no substitute for hard work. It doesn't matter what fancy stationary, gadgets or study techniques you have if you fail to do the basics. Your non negotiables must be: participating in class, taking notes, asking questions, doing your homework, handing in completed assignments and revising for exams. There is no real way around this, you just need to get it done. It's exactly what separates average and high achieving students. If you struggle to commit to it, then something is better than nothing and the more the merrier.

Study groups can be useful, but often aren't due to the high possibility of being distracted. To get the most out of study groups, all members should have learned at least the basics and have questions prepared. Time spent together should mostly consist of people asking questions and them being answered by other members of the group. Explaining concepts to other people consolidates their understanding and forces them to think critically to, it also helps the asker.

A few quick study tips:

- Write it down, studies show that writing is better than typing. Also you remove the possibilities to be distracted by the internet.

- Turn you phone off; classes don't go for that long!

- Try to revise in smaller amounts more frequently rather than cramming all night. You'll feel better the next day!
The Study/Life Balance
There is a difference between slacking off and having a balance. It will be different for everyone, but the idea is to live enough to be happy and to work hard enough to earn your down time. You want to be able to organise your time so that you can go to a party and enjoy it, rather than worrying about an assignment. Similarly, you want to be able to study and not feeling like you're missing out.

Mindset and Good Habits
The most important year of your education will be Year 12. This is because either it will be your final 'performance', so make it count or because it will be what gets you into University. If you get into a decent course then you can easily change courses, defer, take time off and underload subjects. Which is why its so important to get a foot in the door. If you are only going to work hard for a single year, then it must be Year 12. If you tolerate it for year, then you'll start your adult life the right way.

The best investment you can ever make is in yourself. The more educated a person the more likely they will get a good and high earning job. This is the mind set you should have. Either tolerate learning now or suffer the consequences of the future. Perhaps it will be lower income, hard hours or working a horrific job. Suddenly, the library doesn't seem so bad.

It is easier to establish good habits when you are young and malleable. So, make the effort to set time aside for study, sleep, exercise and a proper diet. All of this together will culminate in a happier and more fulfilling lifestyle. Good school habits will translate to good work habits.

There is a reason why education is mandatory, who wants to be a person without basic numeracy and literacy. Imagine trying to get by in a society of uneducated people.

If the whole thing feels too overwhelming, just remember, if you do your best and don't waste your time, then you're already doing better than most and you are on track for some level of success. Even if you don't get into the course you want, it's not the end because there's are always alternative pathways that may not seem so obvious. If you keep at it, then you'll eventually find your way.