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Top Five Things to Help You Prepare for VCE

As you enter your final years of school, it's important to get organised and stay healthy.

Studying for the VCE is one of the most challenging things we ever have to do in our lives. So what are the top five things you need to know to have a successful Year 12?

1. Get Organised 

Thanks to COVID-19, we have all become very used to disruption and uncertainty. But even without a pandemic, life can throw up all sorts of challenges. One of the best ways to deal with change, disruption and illness is to be organised, according to Germana Tendelli, Year 11 Coordinator and Head of English at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School. “Being organised reduces your stress and anxiety,” she says. “Plus, knowing what to expect is very empowering,” she adds. 

Using a study diary during VCE is essential to help you get organised, suggests Germana. “Knowing what is coming up, and how much time you have to do it is important. And again, it will help reduce surprise and anxiety,” she explains.  

2. Set Study Goals

Success in VCE is a lot like completing a marathon - it takes a lot of training, commitment and determination. So establishing good study practices early on is essential. “Slow, consistent revision and study will put you in the best position,” says Germana.  

Study goals can help you keep focussed and on task. These goals can be big, such as completing a folio by a certain date or achieving a certain score on a SAC; or they can be progresssive, such as reading a couple of chapters of a novel, doing three maths exercises or writing two paragraphs of an essay. Planning and managing these goals is a constant process, and your diary will be invaluable in helping you organise them.

Mix up your study routine to keep it interesting. Your teacher can offer advice on study lectures to attend, while a regular study group with classmates can help you stay on track and establish a sense of camaraderie. 

3. Be Prepared for Exams

While being organised and having clear goals will put you in the best position for success, it’s also important not to leave exam preparation to the last minute. Ideally, you should begin preparing for VCE exams at the beginning of the year. 

So how do you prepare for an exam? Start by asking your teachers, says Germana. “They have the best advice!” 

Sitting practice and past exams will help give you a sense of familiarity with the exam conditions and the types of questions you may be asked. The examiners’ advice, which can be found on the VCAA website, is an illuminating insight into what examiners are looking for and how they mark papers.

Organising your notes effectively can be another tool to help you prep for exams and target your revision. Germana suggests for subjects like English, it’s helpful to organise your notes and information into separate sections or folders, reflecting the different sections of the exam, such as A, B and C. 

4. Don’t Give Up

While it’s understandable to get upset over a disappointing mark on a SAC or a test, it’s important to learn from your mistakes. Did you prepare well? Did you follow advice? Did you know enough? Did you ask for help when you were confused? “By asking these questions of yourself, you can identify errors and unhelpful study methods and make appropriate changes,” explains Germana. However, it’s also important to put that score into perspective. “It’s only one part of a big year of many assessments,” says Germana. It’s important to learn from your mistakes and move on.  

5. Stay Healthy

Finally, it’s vital to make sure you have a healthy work/life balance. It’s not just about giving your brain a well-earned rest: it’s also about giving it time to process information. “Physical, mental and intellectual health are all linked,” explains Germana. Eating well and getting enough rest, spending time with friends, and making time for hobbies and sport are just as important as schoolwork, and vital for your mental health.