The Secret method: top success tips from a 99 ATAR scorer

| Last Updated: 7 March 2024 The Secret method: top success tips from a 99 ATAR scorer  
Study Tips » The Secret method: top success tips from a 99 ATAR scorer

For most students, Year 12 is the culmination of 13 years of high school. That’s a really long time. There are thousands of students each year who are determined to finish high school with a bang, but the nature of the ATAR system means only so many students can achieve certain ATAR results – so how can you achieve your study goals?

This article was written from the perspective of a 99+ ATAR achiever who used ATAR Notes through and after high school. Whilst each student is unique and has different study circumstances, we hope some of the tips in this article help you have a successful Year 12 (and we can’t wait to see you on ATAR Notes!).

Staying consistent for a 99+ ATAR

Although Year 12 will probably be over sooner than you think, it’s still a long year, and you need to pace yourself. We see students each and every year go too hard, too early – and eventually burn out. Instead, what you want to aim for is study consistency, which involves doing the small things right time and time again. Over the course of the year, these little wins add up to a much larger total.

One thing you can do to try to achieve study consistency is start early. On a relatively short-term level, this includes things like making a start on an assignment long before it’s due, giving yourself enough time to chip away at your work. .

On a larger scale, starting early means doing little bits and pieces of exam revision throughout the year, meaning you don’t have to cram everything into a week or two (which is already a stressful time) right at the end of the year. If you start early on, you’re giving yourself the most possible time to get everything done. Future you will thank current you for chipping away throughout the year rather than leaving yourself too much to do in too short a time.

Setting good goals for a 99+ ATAR

You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of setting good goals through high school – but what does that actually mean, and how can you actually do it? There’s a great ATAR Notes article on goal-setting through high school here. It runs through the distinctions between aims, goals, strategies, and standards, and provides logical steps on how to set up effective goals for success.

The main takeaways are that goals need to be measurable and specific (“get a great ATAR!” doesn’t work too well as a goal, because it provides no direction), and it’s best to revisit goals consistently throughout the year. Not everything will go right in Year 12, so it’s important to adopt a flexible mindset where goals can change, and you’re honest with yourself about your progress (or lack of progress!) regarding a specific goal.

A neat way to try to stay accountable with your study goals is to share your progress on our dedicated discussions section – there are lots of other students going through similar things as we speak!

Using a good note system for a 99+ ATAR

There are lots of different ways to approach note-taking and note-using in Year 12. No single way is objectively the best, but here is some general advice when it comes to using study notes to your advantage.

My first thought is to have a system. In my view, it doesn’t matter so much what the system is, as long as it makes sense to you, and it’s effective for you. For example, I had a separate notebook for each subject. In each, I made general notes in blue, notes to myself (“must revise this section!”) in black, and thoughts about assessments/exam revision in red. I hand-wrote all of my notes, but have used both handwritten and typed notes at university.

I knew my system really well, and it worked for me. I knew where to find what I was looking for. Does that mean that you should adopt my system, just because it worked for me? Absolutely not – but I do think that developing a system of your own is really important.

Some students like creating their own notes from scratch, whilst others prefer starting with a premade base of notes and working from there. Either way, there are some awesome options available on ATAR Notes, which can ultimately save you a lot of time and energy.

There are thousands of sets of free student-uploaded notes on our free notes database. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something more comprehensive and written by the best, ATAR Notes Study Guides are your best option. You can get physical Study Guides here, and online versions via ATARNotes+.

Regardless of which notes strategy you adopt, your notes will probably be the basis for a lot of end-of-year exam revision, so it’s worth investing a bit of time and effort into ensuring they’re high-quality and up to scratch.

Special 10% off your purchase on ATAR Notes printed materials

Using a variety of resources for a 99+ ATAR

But notes aren’t the only study resource available, and they also shouldn’t be your one and only go-to. The cool thing with study is that there’s no one set way of doing it, and you can actually get pretty creative with your study methods.

A pretty common preference through high school is for video content, which is why we have a whole section with free videos for a huge range of subjects. These videos range from short-form to long-form, so you can use them either for quick revision or as the basis of more extensive study sessions. Further, you can access our Complete Course Videos through ATARNotes+, which are comprehensive video sets presented by top students.

If you’re looking for even more support and for a range of voices, ATAR Notes Lectures are the way to go. You can tune in online at no cost to get a head start on content or revise before exams. Thousands of students across Australia use these lectures each year.

Whether you’re using notes, videos, podcasts, lectures, articles, in-person events, other students, teachers, family members, or any other number of potential resources, the takeaway point here is that it’s best not to rely on a single source of information. Cast a wide net, see what’s out there, and run with what works best for you. Sometimes, all it takes for information to click is for that information to be presented in a slightly different way. 💡

Dealing with procrastination for a 99+ ATAR

Let’s be honest: procrastination affects us all. In my view, it’s really about doing what you can to limit procrastination and its negative effects, and I have a few basic tips for this.

The first idea is to try to limit distractions as much as possible. That means put your phone on silent if practical (don’t even have it on the table if you don’t really need it), find a study location that works for you, and consider working alone if you think your friends will be distracting. These are aspects of study preparation that are often missed. You want to make study as easy as possible for yourself, but putting yourself in a position with a lot of distractions is doing the opposite of that.

The second idea is to work in a dedicated study place if that’s possible. For clarity, that doesn’t mean you need a state-of-the-art study centre – just somewhere you go to study, and not to relax. It’s a bit of a mindset thing. I went to a specific place in the school library, for example. When I went there, I knew I was in the ‘study zone’. When I left, I was in a different headspace, and could focus on other things. Setting up certain zones in your mind like this can help distinguish when you’re studying and when you’re not.

And finally, if you feel like you need a break, you do. Go for a walk, move on to something else, try again another day. My philosophy is that pushing yourself too much to study at any given time can actually be counter-productive in the long-run. This is another advantage of starting early – you give yourself time to take the breaks you need.

The important takeaways

In this article, I’ve discussed some of the strategies that worked for me through high school, and highlighted how ATAR Notes can be used to benefit you and your studies this year. It’s important to note, though, that each student is unique, and we all have different circumstances. My views are based on my experiences, but if you write a similar article in a couple of years, your tips might be completely different – and that’s totally okay!

If you’re keen for regular newsletters with more advice and access to study resources, make sure you have a free ATAR Notes account. You can register here – it only takes a minute!

If you are after more top resources to help you absolutely ace your studies, make sure to head over to our bookshop and stock up with a special 10% off your purchase on ATAR Notes printed materials. Go to and use the code ACEHSC10when you check out.

Best of luck with your studies this year.

Special 10% off your purchase on ATAR Notes printed materials
Share on:
ATAR Notes