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Year 12 can put a lot of pressure on you, but think about this: ‘whatever your goals may be for the future, keep in mind that there are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is the same’. That’s some pretty sound advice from Phil Newnham, a teacher and careers practitioner in a large government school in Melbourne’s east. Phil also recommends you ‘plan for your future but don’t let it get in the way of a successful Year 12 – nothing is final; there are always other options.’
Phil’s school offers a comprehensive VCE program and a VCAL program, and students there have access to a broad range of subjects and extra-curricular activities, including sport, music and leadership. Phil says to think of your teacher and classmates as being members of the same team. ‘Your teacher is your ally and resource and they’ll treat you as their priority for the year.’
Here are Phil’s top tips and advice for how to set yourself up for success in Year 12.
‘Know what you want to achieve and take ownership of your program,’ Phil advises. For example, you might find that studying often for a short amount of time works better for you or perhaps you feel more comfortable setting aside a whole morning to hit the books.
Whatever your preference, Phil says you should ‘run your own race’. Not everyone is programmed the same way so get to know what works for you. Remember to take frequent breaks and make sure to get enough sleep!
When you know your subject, exam time becomes easier. Start as soon as you can and try not to leave study to the last minute. ‘By working ahead early in a topic you’ll have some flexibility when the pressure of SACs begins to mount,’ Phil explains.
If you practice loads of exam questions, you’ll feel more comfortable tackling the task on the day. Spend time looking for patterns, unpacking the questions and reading examiners’ reports. Leaving study to the last minute will only add to the stress, so get clever and get in early. You’ll thank yourself for it.
According to Phil, finding a study space and routine that works for you is another key to success. Figure out if you get more done at the library or in your bedroom. There’s no point trying to study when you’re meant to go to work in an hour, so planning ahead and keeping a schedule can help you find the right time to be productive. By making study a habit, you’ll avoid procrastination and binge-watching a whole TV series.
Checklists are a great way to stay organised – set up a timetable and keep track of goals and milestones. You can also focus your study by noting down your strengths and weaknesses. ‘A checklist gives you a sense of accomplishment as you progress through the year,’ Phil says. There’s nothing like checking off a task on a list to give you a feeling of achievement and satisfaction.
‘After finishing a task, do something for fun, whatever that might be for you,’ Phil advises. Your wellbeing is crucial at this time and the best way to feel good is to take care of yourself.
Don’t skimp on the sleep or the nutritious food or the fresh air. Get out and do sport, yoga or even go for a walk; switch on your favourite tunes and chill out for half an hour; or pick up the phone and have a good laugh with your friends (try not to talk about school!).
You don’t have to go it alone. Listen to Year 12s talk about how they prepare for exams.
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