GUIDE TO A 99 ATAR – Strategies and Tips from Tutors Who Received a 99 ATAR

How to get a 99 ATAR seems like an impossible question, especially with the many factors that go into the calculation!  The elusive 99.95 ATAR is the ultimate goal for secondary school students and seems like an impossible dream.  However, there are so many strategies that can be put in place to get you closer to that goal! We spoke with a multitude of tutors who have achieved a 99 ATAR and here are their top strategies for you! 

1. Understand the Difference Between Preparing for ATAR vs non-ATAR Classes

Unlike all of your other classes, ATAR classes and external exams require you to remember content from all the way back to Year 11. APT Hannah explains that it is all about attitude when going into studying for ATAR, “you have to realise that you can’t cram like you could in previous years and with non-ATAR classes.” One thing that Hannah encourages her students to do is compile a visual diary “that has prompts diagrams and examples for each week of class so you aren’t forgetting what you did in the first week of class. ATAR covers everything, not just what you’ve done in the past few weeks.” APT Abbey also suggests this and says that “preparing in advance and creating summaries is a must. You’re going to have to know everything from the whole year, which you probably haven’t had to do before. As you learn, write everything down rather than having to do that right before exams” 

2. Study Early & Use School Holidays’

Working consistently through the holidays will allow you to keep your momentum and also recap on things from the precious term. In the words of APT, Tom,  “I felt like it was a real benefit to me that I was able to work during the last two school holidays before exams. I feel like I got a big leg up by using that time that I was given and highly suggest using that to your advantage”

3. Sleep and Take Care of Yourself 

It is a common misconception that to do well at school – really well – you must throw yourself entirely into your schoolwork while leaving your friends, hobbies, and sleep behind.  I won’t deny that getting a 99 ATAR will take a massive commitment of time, energy and determination, but if you focus solely on school you will, quite simply… burn out.  Being able to have breaks from schoolwork is important in keeping you sane and focused! How to get a 99 ATAR is about staying sane through that really tough final year of high school.  APT Hannah says that “You need to make time for things for yourself, whether that is hanging out with your friends, hobbies or relaxing. Even though it may feel like you’re not supposed to be taking a break, it is actually going to help your study more efficiently.” 

Another thing that must stay in your life while preparing for ATAR is sleep. APT Tom explains that “you will be able to notice a difference in the last few weeks of exams between people who prioritised their sleep versus those who did not and had bad study habits.” Having sleep is essential to getting the rest you need to have a clear mind and effective study sessions. 

4. Use Your Friends 

“Even though ATAR is very individualised, you can still work with your peers during the revision stages. Having people to discuss with will help you get through problem-solving and study sessions!”  – APT Tom

It is widely known that the best way to learn a concept is to teach it to someone else! So I guess my calling as a high school tutor started in high school!  Helping your classmates will allow you to discuss, learn, and understand the content for your exams and assignments. There’s no better way to understand different perspectives on a topic than to discuss it with peers.   “Having a community that you can study with in an organised way can be really beneficial, and also sharing ideas about how to study. Even if it is just a group hangout on the weekend to expand your knowledge,” says APT Sam. 

Hannah also explains that it is important to “not compare yourself to your friends – It doesn’t matter how other people are studying, we all learn differently. Everyone has their own strengths while studying, just like you may be good at music, and they may be good at sport. You should learn how to study in your own learning style, even when working with friends.” 

5. Goal Setting 

APT Hannah explains that “sometimes when you’re at school, you miss setting the small, goals. Your goal is always big, such as getting a 99 ATAR or getting into uni. But really, you need to be setting small goals to get there, such as studying for at least 10 minutes every single night, or attending every single class. Abbey also makes a great point that you “shouldn’t set a number for yourself, just that you want to do your very best. Setting a number can limit yourself, because you may be able to achieve even higher than that number!” 

Another important factor to consider when setting your goals is considering who you are setting them for. Sam explains that “it is important to focus on your reasons. You should be working hard for yourself and for your own reasons, without considering external reasons. Figure out why you want a 99 and use that as motivation.” 

Getting a 99 ATAR or even that elusive 99.95 ATAR isn’t impossible.  It’s a process that involves a lot of passion for learning and commitment to constant improvement. As long as you are willing to put in the effort and hard work, you can get the results you want!  Always ask for help and don’t be afraid to seek out a tutor who understands not only the ATAR system but also where you, personally, can overcome any barriers to getting that top entry score.