How to set USEFUL goals for Trials and the HSC

Lauren Condon

Marketing Specialist at Atomi


min read

We all know goals are super important, but sometimes we need a bit more help with exactly how to set goals that are useful… and achievable.

Now that holidays are just around the corner and you’ve smashed through ¾ of year 12, it’s the perfect time to sit back and take a second to refresh and reset your goals for this year. We know goal-setting can sound frustratingly vague sometimes, so let’s break it down into some really clear and easy steps that will take us straight to our dream ATAR.

1. Start with your big goal for this year

When it comes to actually useful goal-setting, the trick is to work backwards. See, you want to start with your big, overall goal for year 12 and break that down into smaller steps so you can see exactly how to smash it.

You probably have a lot of big goals for this year but we’re probably going to stick with the one that we can help you with: a dream ATAR.

Now, we’re 100% not saying that your ATAR is the be-all and end-all, or the only thing that matters this year. But a lot of the time, your dream ATAR is going to reflect you getting into a job or course next year, a personal best in your academic life or even just being able to stick with year 12 and come out with any ATAR at all.

So, whether it’s 55.00 or 99.85, take a second to remind yourself of what ATAR you want to finish with this year. 🏆🏆🏆

2. Look at your marks and feedback so far

Now you know where you’re heading, time to focus on where you are right now.

This week, or during the holidays, go back through your results, rankings and feedback from Term 4 last year to this term to get a clear idea of where you are. This is really important because based on the way that ATARs are calculated, you can make some smart decisions about where you need to focus your study and attention to improve your ATAR as much as possible.

Write out all your subjects and your ranking in each of them, as well as the biggest things you need to improve. You’re going to want to prioritise your weakest subjects - where you have the most room to improve - and any subjects that are ‘lower-scaling’ or your school doesn’t usually do that well in. Setting yourself a goal of improving your rank in these lower subjects is a really important step in hitting that dream ATAR.

3. Move on to the goals you want to achieve in Trials

So, now we know where we are (our current results), and where we need to go (our dream ATAR).

The next step is to set yourself some goals for Trials to help us connect those dots.

So, if you’ve read those posts on how ATARs work, you know that your rank is much more important than your raw marks at this stage. That means, set a goal rank in each subject instead of just trying to get a band 6 in your favourite one. To work out what rank you should be aiming for, think about the ATAR you would be happy with and what kind of ATARs the students in your school have achieved in the past.

It’s not an exact science to work out what rank you need for your ATAR so your best bet is to sit down with a teacher, careers advisor or tutor at your school and ask them to help you work out what rank you need in each subject after Trials!

4. Break down smaller goals for your study these holidays

Goals within goals within goals.🙄 🙄 🙄

Seriously though, the way to make goals useful is by breaking them down to such small steps so you can see the exact path to the goal and can see the tasks you need to do.

If you want to use Trials to improve all your ranks, especially in your weaker subjects, that means you need set goals to achieve these holidays.

So, if your lowest rank is in General Mathematics (this will work for any subject), you might decide that you want to be able to get 75% in a practice paper by the end of the holidays (because, maybe, based on your school, that would bring your rank up 20 places).

That means, these holidays, you’re going to want to:

  • Memorise every formula you need
  • Do plenty of practice questions for the most difficult topics
  • Pinpoint your regular mistakes from your feedback from your exams so far (Do you forget to check your working? Do you misread questions? Do you mix up formulas?)
  • Work through past papers until you achieve that 75%

These steps are going to help you nail your goal rank and will also push you towards your goal ATAR.

It’s all about being really sure about what you want and exactly how to get there. 💯


We all know goals are important but it’s pretty hard to see why unless you know exactly how to set them, and use them. At this point in the year, it’s worth taking the time to look at where you are right now, your dream ATAR and mapping out the steps that will connect the two. Focus on pushing up your rank and prioritise your weakest subjects first. It’s going to mean you can study smarter instead of harder and still come out nailing that dream ATAR.


Published on

June 27, 2017

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