About the author: David Quan, one of thirty recipients worldwide of a Cambridge Trust Scholarship, was one of our state’s top performing students, earning a near-perfect ATAR and International Baccalaureate (IB) score. An Order of Australia Association Student Citizenship Awards recipient, David has tutored, coached and mentored hundreds of Primary and Secondary students over the last half-decade, especially through his active volunteering and leadership roles for school, basketball, music, public speaking, social enterprise and community service.

Advanced Education SA
is pleased to partner with David before he commences his undergraduate studies at the world-renowned University of Cambridge. We hope that his fresh insights and perspective may offer all our students further inspiration to access excellence and advance their education. For private and group tuition enquiries, please visit our website at https://advancededucation.com.au/

To study, or not to study, that is (not) the question. Well, at least, we hope not!


For a high school student, how best to study effectively and efficiently may be more pertinent to consider. For curious, ambitious and motivated young students, it is reasonable to assume that the highest achievers, like the Dux and Proxime Accessit of schools, may have access to this elusive, universal formula for academic excellence. Maybe they do! But unfortunately, I have yet to ascertain it. All I am confident about is that you do not need to, and most likely cannot, be a nerd to do well. Hard work – and other commonly desirable traits – are obviously crucial too. Being a ‘Bloomer’ and having personable role models also help. Yet surely, there is usually something more overarching, something that provides structure, and something that underpins routine. And what is that ‘something’? To me, it is a system.


Pardon? 🤔


I initially have a difficult time explaining this abstract concept of a study ‘system’ to my students. In fact, I even struggled to comprehend what I was doing myself! Is it a set of principles or procedures that simplifies complexities? Possibly. Is it an easily developed or adjustable mechanism? Possibly. Could there be any drawbacks, such as discouraging creativity and spontaneity, that may stem from its potential rigidities? Possibly. It all depends.

From my personal perspective, a system of study in high school is merely a holistic, well-informed and strategic approach to learning. The system functions, in a metaphorical sense, just like a railway: it paves a civilized and ordered path towards the destination. However, the direction must be accurate, and quality must be well-ensured, or else it is all futile if not counterproductive!


Systematic Studying: RAILWAY Engineering 🛤️


Some general attributes, characteristics or features of an ideal system of study in high school in my view can therefore be encapsulated in the acronym of RAILWAY:




There is justifiable or logical purpose to every action within the system


The encompassing strategies, including the order of approaches, of the system are broad and flexible enough to suit a range of topics or circumstances


The system is personally crafted by the student himself or herself to suit his or her very own educational needs


The system is constantly refreshed or updated as the student is open to new knowledge, feedback or ideas

W Workable

Each step of the system is routinely implementable considering the student’s circumstances


The system is practical enough to suit the students’ needs, capabilities or schedules


The approaches forming the holistic system are effective as measured both by subjective personal satisfaction and objective outcome or result

RAILWAY! We all need to build our own RAILWAY system given our differing destinations and unique preferences. Nonetheless, as with a plethora of endeavors in life, it may be wise to consult and learn from those who have already developed a proven functional track. Personally, my track was constructed over the course of a couple years with the inspiration, support and guidance from many individuals who each contributed something worthwhile. It was as if I had a team of world-class engineers!  


Systematic Studying Series Surfacing Soon! 📣


In the coming weeks, as part of this ‘Systematic Studying’ series of blogs, I look forward to sharing with you the step-by-step approaches that formed my personal system of study in high school. My RAILWAY system, of course, will not necessarily suit you. It may even seem ridiculous. But it also may just offer an element or idea that could alter your train path – and ultimate trajectory. So, stay tuned!