Year after year, many students enter year 12 and often make the same mistakes as the rest of their cohort. I’d like to explore some of these mistakes, and how avoiding them can impact your final score and overall success in year 12. For all of you in year 11, considering these mistakes will help you set you up for success next year. For you in year 12 this year, don’t worry! It’s never too late to make changes, and some of these points will be crucial in the home stretch to your exams.

SAC scores don’t matter, only the exam does.

This is a common misconception, with many students falling trap to the easy-going year that this entails. When I was in year 12, I heard people say before every SAC, ‘this doesn’t matter’ and that ‘everything relies on the exam, anyway’. This excuse allows students to feel as if they can get away without doing proper study, and that they can redeem themselves in their final exams. Although the final exam does have a big role in determining your study score, SACs are equally as important. SACs work to rank students within their cohort, or class. But don’t worry, how you perform on your SACs is relative to your school. If your school has extremely hard SACs, that’s okay! VCAA always looks at SAC scores versus exam scores, so if you work really hard on your future SACs and the exam you can maximise your study score!

Relying on yourself, not on your teachers.

Teachers are one of the most important parts of having a successful VCE, and fully utilising your teachers is key. Many students feel like they must rely only on themselves, but teachers are often available outside of class to cover any areas a student may be struggling with to ensure a student feels confident and supported. Most importantly, teachers recognise the stress of year 12 and can be available for support, such as dealing with anxiety and other issues that come with being a regular teenager. By turning to your teachers for support, either academically or for other reasons, you can put your full focus into the study year 12 requires!

Choice of subjects according to scaling.

Many students pick their subjects based on subject scaling, in which scores for more complex subjects, such as Specialist Maths or a language, scale up, whilst others such as Studio Arts, scale down.. It is often more effective to choose subjects which you feel more confident in or that you enjoy as struggling in a subject, or simply not enjoying it, sets you up for a year of stress and tension. With motivation and determination, you can achieve the same, if not a better study score, than a higher scaling subject you chose to boost your ATAR. Year 12 is not meant to be a mentally gruelling year, but instead should be viewed as an opportunity to explore subjects that you have an interest in. Pick subjects that you enjoy, and through hard work and effort, you can achieve your best.

Only revising at the end of the year.

Year 12 is a marathon, not a sprint. Leaving all revision to the final few months, or even weeks, results in mountains of stress and sleepless nights. Study should be done incrementally throughout the year. We highly recommend that you pace your study by creating notes and doing practise questions throughout the year. This helps you prepare for your SACs, which in themselves are additional opportunities for you to study and gain knowledge. This also prevents exam burnout, which deserves an article solely dedicated to explaining and preventing it. In short, it is an issue in which students study so frantically before exams that they tire themselves out, leaving them mentally and physically disadvantaged before their exams. Again, I cannot stress this enough, it is a marathon, not a sprint.

Focusing only on schoolwork.

In year 12, prioritising study is crucial to success. However, many students make the mistake of focusing only on studying, completely removing all hobbies and downtime from their life. Many students see this as wasting valuable study time, and although this may sometimes be true, it is also a well-needed break from studying. 

Downtime is important not only in year 12 but life in general. Avoiding burnout due to studying or working excessively is equally as important as the study itself. By continuing a hobby, or giving yourself a break from studying, you are allowing yourself to rest and refresh your brain and body. Exercise is another great option for study breaks, as it has been shown to increase study effectiveness. Whether you take a quick walk around the block, play guitar, cook brownies or do something completely unique to you, ensuring your year 12 lifestyle is correctly balanced will set you up for success!

Hopefully these tips will guide you through what can be a very special year. It’s always important to remember that everyone’s year 12 experience is unique, however some experiences remain the same for all. 

Good luck!