The Domain Review recently interviewed Caulfield Grammar School high achiever Angelina Leung on how she achieved her top ATAR score.

Angelina Leung (Class of 2021) – copyright Domain Review, photographer Greg Briggs

When Angelina Leung graduated with an ATAR of 99.15 last year, she credited her support network for enabling her to succeed, even if their feedback was not always what she wanted to hear.

“I feel that there’s a misconception about support networks – how, if you approach somebody, they’ll always tell you what you want. But they’re trying to use their own experience to help you.”

The former Caulfield Grammar School Wheelers Hill Campus student says pursuing outside interests and studying smarter, not harder, were also strategies that helped her succeed.

“From Year 10 onwards, I didn’t really have the [thought] that, “When I hit the VCE, I’m going to have a really awesome plan on how I’m going to crush it,” she says. “It was more about trial and error.”

Leung gave herself plenty of variety in how she approached studying, which stopped her from getting too bored and losing motivation.

“I’d change my workspaces … if I took myself to a different physical environment, then my mind would adapt to it and I could focus.”

Dividing work into manageable chunks also helped. She says she saw many students fall into the trap of only finishing assessments when they absolutely had to.

Leung says even if it wasn’t a huge project, she always found it better to get started early.

“Students should try to say to themselves, ‘OK, if this is due Friday, then before Thursday, instead of playing video games or scrolling through social media, I’ll just start’,” she says.

“You realise that, yes, it might be hard, but because you have more time to digest your work, you’re going to feel much better.”

Leung’s VCE success got her into Monash University’s Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Master’s accelerated pathway, which will see her graduate with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in engineering in just five years.