There’s a little over a week remaining of the summer break before year 11 and 12 students across Victoria will don their uniforms and prepare to re-enter the school gates to commence or continue their VCE journey. If you’ve clicked on this article, you’re probably already feeling the stress of the upcoming year and want to know what you should be doing before the school term even starts to ensure that you’re best prepared for those dreaded impending SACs and final exams. And I don’t blame you – when I was in Year 12, I did the same.
In retrospect, my biggest advice to my ‘year 12 self’ would be to stress a little less, but I also know that I would have been too anxious to feel reassured by some random study blog post, so I don’t expect you to either. Instead, I’ve compiled some practical tips that should equip you prior to entering the warzone of Year 11 and 12. Even though there is no way to predict the precise play-by-play of VCE, that doesn’t mean that you can’t train and strategise to ensure you have the optimal chance of emerging victorious from the battlefield of VCE.
Mental Preparation – how many times have you heard the phrase, ‘VCE is a marathon, not a sprint’? It’s cliched, because it’s true. Burnout is an extremely common phenomenon amongst students, and it can be extremely detrimental to your mental health and subsequent academic performance.
Firstly, prepare for it to be a taxing year. Prepare for SAC marks that you weren’t expecting despite putting in hours of study. Prepare for teachers who might not meet your expectations. Prepare for sacrifice and disappointments, but also know that these won’t define your final score, nor should it affect your personal sense of value or belief system. Things won’t necessarily go your way, but these things will make you stronger and more determined.
Have avenues in place that’ll ensure you’re taking care of your mental health throughout the year. Download the Smiling Mind app. Book an appointment with a psychologist. Organise study groups. Listen to podcasts. Watch Netflix. Oh, and attend 18ths, because there’ll be a lot of them.
Gather Your Weapons – one of the biggest things that helped me during VCE was ensuring I was well-stocked with resources for the coming year. Having resources meant that I was able to better fill in gaps of knowledge when I came across them, and have a variety of sources to diversify my understanding of topics. Each resource was beneficial by fulfilling a particular niche – student-made resources would identify the key pieces of information that I’d need for exams whereas textbooks were comprehensive for holistically understanding concepts.
There are a myriad of second-hand notes and textbooks constantly being circulated on Facebook marketplaces and VCE groups. Ask friends in older year levels whether they’d be willing to share their notes with you. Seek out free resources hiding out in the crevices of Google. Obtaining resources doesn’t have to be expensive, and it shouldn’t be. If you’re looking for some online courses, KIS has some available here!
Determine Your Battle Strategy – you’ll rarely find a successful VCE student who didn’t possess a strong sense of organisation. When you’re juggling 5-6 different subjects, often you don’t have any choice but to be. What’ll free up your mind is to have a flexible roadmap of how you want your year to progress. Set broad goals such as when you’d like to finish parts of the curriculum, when you’d like to start doing practice exams, and how many you’d like to do. This’ll do two things – a) keep you accountable during your VCE journey, and b) force you to get vaguely familiar with the concepts that you’ll be covering over the next 12 months or so. Keep these goals in mind, but don’t steadfastly rely on them as you progress throughout the year, because your most important priority should be to be kind to yourself.
Resting Before Battle – even soldiers going to war need to be well-rested for optimal performance. Enjoy the rest of your summer break before re-embarking on your academic pathway so that you’re excited to give everything you have to the coming year. After all, if you’re embarking on a journey, you’d want to get going on a full tank of gas!