BlogStudyHow Oliver Went from a Band 1 to a Band 5 in HSC Advanced Maths

How Oliver Went from a Band 1 to a Band 5 in HSC Advanced Maths

HSC Advanced Maths is just one of those difficult subjects, isn’t it? This was no exception for Oliver. 

It can be tricky to grab, and can be even trickier to apply. When we encounter low marks, our motivation and mood drop.

Good news, with some hard work and dedication, no mark is beyond saving! With his incredible — and, by no means, unachievable — story, we discuss how the techniques he used to go from a Band 1 in his Maths Advanced Trials to a Band 5 in his Maths Advanced HSC exam! 

So let’s get started!

Tip #1: Keep a positive perspective
Tip #2: Stay relaxed 
Tip #3: Find someone or something to motivate you
Tip #4: Do a variety of questions and past papers
Tip #5: Target your weak areas

Tip #1: Keep a positive perspective

It’s completely natural to feel a little down once you receive a mark that’s a little or lot lower than your expectations.

That’s why it was super important for Oliver to stay logical and positive — not only on his confidence in HSC Advanced Maths, but his potential to get back up and ace that next exam!

Students often ‘personalise’ their mark, meaning that they think they just don’t have the right brain for maths.

But, that’s far from the truth. It’s a bad type of self-fulfilling prophecy, where someone’s low confidence leaves them demotivated and less likely to achieve the mark they want. 

You can work around these negative thoughts in many ways: 

  • Acknowledge the difficulty of the course: sometimes a course will just be a little difficult to grasp on the first go! 
  • Analyse the steps you took to prepare for the exam: could you have changed anything to make your study more efficient and beneficial? 
  • Reflect upon the topics assessed in the exam: See whether you know them inside out – use this reflection to plan your future study! 

Oliver made sure to keep a positive mindset after flunking his trials, telling us “I didn’t really feel like I was particularly screwed, it’s just a tough course. So that was the mentality I had for advanced maths: that pretty much everyone is finding it hard.” 

Think about it: there’s only one way to go after a bad exam result: up!

Tip #2: Stay relaxed 

Maths is often the subject that almost all students stress about.

For Oliver, that was no exception: “maths is a subject where you can easily get flustered and sometimes you can’t do the things that you know how to do because you’re just stressed.”

Too much stress, especially during an exam, is a major factor of students making silly mistakes in an exam or having a mind blank — Oliver’s HSC Advanced Maths trials played out that way.

He realised that the stress he built around Maths Advanced encroached on his ability to perform well.

To reduce those side effects, Oliver decided to ‘chill out’ just a little during his exams, to just relax and take deep breaths.

By doing so, Oliver allowed himself to focus on the content without the added pressure and sit his exams to the best of his abilities! 

“I think being relaxed was one of the most important things to become better at maths,” Oliver says. 

Tip #3: Find someone or something to keep you accountable

Never ever be afraid to ask for support!

There’ll be inevitable points in your HSC year where your motivation is at an all time low.

We don’t run on a constant supply of motivation as it fluctuates over the year!

But, the bugging question is what happens this temporary lack of motivation turns into a dangerous cycle of not completing any work?

Oliver’s trick for getting motivated in HSC Advanced Maths was to find someone or something that keep you accountable.

“I had a lot of help from my tutor Julian and I also had a family friend who helped me on weekend,” he says. 

Staying accountable can come from anything: reminding yourself of your dream uni course, a personal goal, or getting a Sydney Maths tutor who can keep you on track — the best thing to do is get a mix of all three to help build some of that missing motivation and help you get through your HSC year! 

Oliver decided it was be best for him to get an Art of Smart tutor here. Yes, tutoring obviously gave him extra help with the curriculum content, but it also kept him accountable and motivated to study! 

Needing some support to keep you focused? We can help you with our Maths tutors in Penrith!

Tip #4: Do a variety of questions and past papers

Active recall is one of the best ways for you to remember content in the long term!

For Oliver, one way of using active recall for HSC Advanced Maths is by doing a tonne of past papers – hence why many people say that doing past papers (once you know all the content of course) is one of the best ways to study!

In Oliver’s case, doing many past papers helped expose him to a variety of question types and prepared him for any type of question that he may get in an exam!

Discover how to write effective study notes for HSC Advanced Maths so  you can ace your HSC exam!

Tip #5: Target your weak areas

After a mark that is perhaps not so ideal, it’s of utmost importance that you reflect upon the areas that you stumbled in, and take note of these as areas of weakness!

This way, you can focus on these areas when you study and ensure that your knowledge is up to par in terms of the syllabus as a whole! 

“Identifying the areas where you are not that strong in and not ignoring it is probably one of the most important things in [HSC Advanced Maths]” Oliver says. 

That’s all you need to do!

By following through, staying relaxed, keeping a positive attitude and getting some help from Art of Smart Education, Oliver was able to turn his marks around in the short period between trials and the HSC Advanced Maths exams!

At the end of the day, this isn’t rocket science  — as long as you stick through it, there’s never a goal out of your reach!

Studying for Year 12 has never been easier! 

Check out more of our Year 11 and HSC resources here:

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Yasmin Hasan is a current first year psychology student at UNSW. She loves making art, playing piano or reading in her spare time. She graduated from high school in 2021 so her memories of her own high school experience are still quite fresh. She would love to use her own experiences to help other students build their confidence and improve in their academics!

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