Monthly Archives: November 2009

The HSC Mindset

We are now into Term 4 of 2009. This means all year 11 have just moved onto year 12, and are in their first Term of their HSC. Now is the real thing – all school assessments count towards your internal rank. Your assignments and exams at school will affect your ATAR – and your final HSC exams are less than a year away.

It is time to get yourself into the right mindset in order to achieve the ATAR you want.

How to set goals

Goal setting is an effective motivational tool that can help you stay focused and on-track to your HSC success. Staying focused and motivated throughout the 2 years starting at the beginning of year 11 plays a large part to your eventual success in getting the ATAR you need for your ideal University course. Staying focused and motivated is also the biggest challenge students face. Here’s where effective goal-setting can help.

There are many books written on this subject, but the key thing to learn is the ability to break big goals down into small actionable tasks. For example, suppose your ultimate HSC goal is to achieve the ATAR you need for your dream University course. This is a very common goal, one shared by all keen HSC students dedicated to their studies.

Breaking big goals into smaller goals

So how would you go about breaking down this goal into smaller actionable tasks?

First, make a commitment to end the habit of procrastination. Accept that for great things to happen, there must be a proportionately great amount of work that needs to be done – by you. Think of this as a ‘law of conservation of effort and rewards’, or the old adage: ‘you reap what you sow’. In order to achieve a high ATAR, you need to study – there’s no two ways about this. Do all your homework from school (and tutoring!), and ask questions until you completely understand every concept before moving on.

Now, since it’s a given that hard work and study is required, you’ll need to work out what you can do each day to work to your goal. The second step is to find out what is a sustainable amount of study you can do each day. Make a commitment to stick to this amount, everyday, for as long as you can. Work out a schedule in which to split your study time amongst your subjects. Put more time into your weaker subjects – generally this approach will maximise your aggregate mark (due to diminishing returns from excelling in each individual subject). Make a schedule, commit to it and STICK to it.

The third and final step is to START TODAY. Remember that there is no longer any reason for you to procrastinate as you’ve accepted the fact that hard work is necessary for great rewards.

Keep small goals realistic The thing to remember about setting smaller goals is to keep them realistic and achievable. For example, suppose your goal is to do well in an upcoming Mathematics exam, and you need to master Integration and Polynomials before the exam. Then what you can do is break the content and exercises you’ll need to go through into daily portions and do those portions each day. Keep the amount achievable, but don’t be lazy about it. Do the most you can – then have a break.

Rewarding yourself Rewarding yourself is an important part of the whole process. It is wrong to believe that HSC success comes from complete sacrifice of one’s social life and leisure time for the entire 2 years.

While it is important to set goals, it is equally important to reinforce the achievement of goals with proportionate rewards. Decide to yourself prior to starting each goal what the reward for the goal is. For example, you may have a goal of achieving 90% in the next Physics exam. You may think this is particularly challenging for you, since Physics is one of your weaker subjects. Therefore you may decide that if you achieve this goal, you’d get to go out for a day or two, or throw a party, or buy yourself something nice. However it is also important that your activity is something that involves movement. Because study requires you to be at home / school / library, it is not a good idea to spend your breaks doing something at home, such as playing computer games for the whole day.

Study smart, study hard Have you heard some people telling you to “study smarter, not harder”? This is one of the most dangerous things to believe in, as it gets students into the wrong mindset. Yes, there are ways to study smarter, as it comes from understanding the way the HSC works, how HSC scaling works, what percentile is required for a certain aggregate mark, etc. As well, there are definitely great benefits in learning effective study habits such as how to set schedules, set goals (what this article is teaching!), and how to maximise the use of your resources (teachers, books etc). However, this does NOT mean you should not work as hard as you can. Instead, every time you hear someone say to you “study smarter, not harder”, you should reply “why not do both?”.

“Study smart AND study hard” – that’s the way to get a 99.95.

Things you can do to study smarter:

* Educate yourself of the way the HSC works, such as HSC scaling, how the ATAR is calculated, what marks are required for your required ATAR, etc
* Make maximum use of your teachers at school and tutoring
* Make use of quality textbooks for your subjects. Sometimes, notes from past students / friends etc, even teachers at school, are no-where near as comprehensive as the textbook
* Study with friends who are as dedicated as you are

Things you can do to study harder:

* Stop procrastinating – start today!
* Make a schedule, stick to it
* Set small realistic goals that are part of your bigger goals

Final thoughts

The key to HSC success is not how ‘naturally bright’ you are. It is not what school you go to either (although having great teachers helps a lot, you can always find great teachers from tutoring). The most important thing is consistency in hard work.

“Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Half effort does not produce half results, it produces no results. Work, continuous work and hard work, it the only way to accomplish results that last.” -Hamilton Holt

Dux College is a Sydney-based HSC Learning Center specialising in HSC Tutoring Our Maths, Physics and Chemistry tuition programs are intensive and results driven, aimed at giving our students the skills to achieve Band 6, and their highest potential UAI.

The Education Tax Refund

The Education Tax Refund The Education Tax Refund (‘ETR’) was announced in the 08-09 federal budget. Under the ETR, families can claim up to a 50% tax refund for eligible education expenses for their children, for up to:

* $750 for each child in primary school, and
* $1,500 for each child in secondary school

These amounts equate to a maximum tax offset of $375 and $750 respectively. It is a good idea to be aware of this scheme, as parents can now claim for allowable expenses related to their children’s education. Some common allowable expenses include: laptops, desktop computers, education software, school textbooks, trade tools etc. So be sure to keep those receipts, as every dollar spent (up to the limits above) could be worth up to a 50c tax refund for your family.

Eligibility The ETR is available to families receiving the Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB Part A). The FTB Part A is a separate existing tax benefit which is given by the Family Assistance Office as fortnightly payments to families that meet the Income Test. We won’t go into all the rules regarding qualifying for the FTB Part A, but basically families that have a total family income of less than a certain threshold will receive this tax benefit. In the 08-09 year, this limit was $98,514 (for families with under 18 dependants) or $99,962 for families with some dependants over 18. Add $3,796 to the respective limit for each additional child. So basically if your family income was less than this limit, you would be eligible for the FTB Part A, and hence the ETR (whether you currently receive the FTB is irrelevant, your family just needs to be eligible for it).

Additionally, for the purposes of the ETR, any income in the form of youth allowance, disability support or ABSTUDY (there are a few others) do not count to this limit. So if your family income falls under the threshold for the FTB Part A but for those payments in respect of your child, you’re still eligible for the ETR.

Allowable expenses

Generally, all expenses that (in the words of the federal government) “support a child during school and improve quality of education” are allowable. For example:

* Laptops & home computers and associated costs (including repair and running costs of computer equipment and lease costs), home Internet connection and printers and paper
* Education software
* School textbooks and material (including prescribed textbooks, associated learning materials, study guides and stationery)
* Prescribed trade tools

The list above is not exhaustive, but give you an idea of what are allowable expenses.

Notice that all school textbooks and materials are allowable. For example, you or your child may have purchased HSC textbooks, or prescribed texts for HSC English – claim those! Your family internet connection is also claimable. Just remember to keep your receipts. If you buy claimable goods second hand from private sellers, request a receipt (a simple note noting the goods / service, the price and date will suffice).

However, tuition costs (such as payments to Dux College or other HSC tuition colleges) and school fees are not allowable expenses. Nor are non-education related software such as computer games, or hardware used for such purposes, obviously.

How to claim

The ETR is claimed when parents complete their annual tax return. For those using the e-Tax software, there will be a section for the ETR. Just remember to keep those receipts!

Dux College is a Sydney-based HSC Learning Center specialising in HSC Tutoring Our Chemistry, Physics and Math tuition programs are intensive and results driven, aimed at giving our students the skills to achieve Band 6, and their highest potential UAI.



Phone:(02) 8007 6824