My name is Mia* and I graduated from Bossley Park High School. During year 12, my top priority was to be accepted into the dual degree of law and international studies at UNSW. When I got a 63 in my Year 11 English, my goal had never been further out of my reach.
Now, as a first year student in UNSW Law and International Studies and a Band 6 English mark, I will share with you the the things that worked best for me, as well as some that would be better off left behind.
What was paramount to my improvement and acceptance into my dream degree and uni is my mindset. I would argue that having the right mindset is much more effective than anything else.
No matter what school you go to or what resources you have available to you, you must always keep in mind that, firstly, there will be always students who are more advantaged in every possible way and secondly, if you are lucky enough to be one of those students, that this does not automatically write off your competition. I knew that there were many people out there who had more; so I also knew that this meant my mindset had to beat theirs. I maintained an extreme (almost unattainable and honestly, life threatening since I would forget to eat) level of discipline, drive and focus. Mix these attributes with an undying determination and that is where success lies. However, it is also important to maintain regard for health, by taking breaks, sleeping and eating well!
2. Timing Essays & Time Drills
Techniques I used specifically for English included writing as many plans and responses as I could. I started off doing them in untimed conditions, to ensure that my ideas were being communicated effectively. However, it was not long at all before I timed every essay that I wrote. 2 minutes per mark allocated - I was not easy on myself and didn't give myself any excuses.
3. Write Essays to Difficult and Diversified Questions
It is also important to note that I attempted the hardest possible questions I could find. Additionally, I attempted very diversified questions, as I knew that there was no point in writing essays for questions that were similar.
4. Feedback and Consistency
The next most important thing is to make sure that these essays are all marked for feedback. Taking on constructive feedback and consulting teachers and my tutor worked very well for me. Feedback is there for your improvement, if you build on all the feedback that you get, you should see a very noticeable difference in your marks! To maintain improvements achieved from feedback, consistency is key. You should put all feedback into consistent practice to ensure you don't lose it. I have handed in so many essays I can't even keep count anymore.
5. Ditch Low Yield Tasks
This might come as a surprise and I do encourage that you to take this with a grain of salt, but the one thing I think I would change is that I would not do every single piece of school work assigned for homework. Before you get excited, what I mean by this is that you need to consciously realise how precious your time is. You must assess the importance and contribution that tasks will actually give you. Ask yourself questions like: what exactly is this task aiming to improve? Basically, you should assess the effectiveness of tasks before putting time into them.
*for privacy reasons, the name of the student was changed.