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How to pass Year 12 Physical Education

Year 12 is a testing time for any student. There’s the constant stress of staying on top of your workload, while end-of-year exams loom in the back of your mind. If you’re like most students, you’ll have tips and tricks coming at you in all directions on how to best achieve success in your studies, but sometimes it’s difficult to hear the best advice through all the noise.

That’s why we’ve gone straight to those who know Year 12 studies better than anyone else. We spoke to Scott Buchanan, Year 12 Physical Education teacher at Aquinas College in Melbourne, who offered some great advice on how to give yourself the best chance to succeed in your Physical Education studies.

How does Physical Education differ from other Year 12 subjects?

Buchanan believes Physical Education is the most approachable subject for Year 12 students as it has such a direct application to real life: ‘it differs from other subjects as it allows for practical physical activity, to not only apply the theory but to also experience it in appropriate situations.’

Having such a practical application for the subject content enhances the learning experience for students because you can see the subject material in action so often. ‘You can sit and watch the football on a Friday night and be productive in your learning at the same time,’ Buchanan points out.

What to focus on

According to Buchanan, it’s particularly important to pay attention to the sociocultural and psychological factors that underpin all of the content in Year 12 Physical Education, which again gives context to the subject material for students. ‘Students should not only think about elite athletes, but all population groups in our society,’ he explains.

And while all of the content in the course will end up being important for your end-of-year exam and beyond, Buchanan does identify biomechanics, energy systems and training programs as the largest key areas for students to focus on.

Common mistakes to avoid

Buchanan has seen it all when it comes to Year 12 Physical Education. Here he shares some of the common mistakes he’s seen students make, as well as how to avoid them.

Firstly, students who only learn the content on a surface level will run into problems. Rote learning and memorising definitions isn’t enough; you’ll need to learn how to properly apply the content. ‘To avoid this mistake, constantly apply and think of “how” to use the knowledge and not just “what” the facts are,’ Buchanan says.

‘The other biggest mistake is leaving revision until assessment time, and this is consistent across all subjects,’ states Buchanan. He believes that constant revision is the best way to avoid this – looking back over notes within 24 hours of the first time you learn the content and then again every three to four days until the assessment. This helps keep the material fresh and relevant in your mind.

'Students should not only think about elite athletes, but all population groups in our society.'

Scott Buchanan,
Aquinas College, Melbourne

Taking notes effectively

As all great teachers will, Buchanan stresses the importance of taking quality notes, especially in the foundation stages of understanding the material.

He also believes writing notes by hand is particularly important. ‘All notes should be hand-written, as this enhances memory compared to typing. Handwriting is more time-consuming but more effective overall,’ Buchanan explains.

He also says that Physical Education is more content-heavy than most realise, so organising your notes is essential. ‘Having one notes exercise book and a well-managed folder for handouts is the key to keeping on task. Once your notes have been completed, re-read them and highlight key terms, then use these key terms when you start to apply your knowledge to practice SACs and exams.’

Prepping for the end-of-year exam

Buchanan believes that the best practice for succeeding in the end-of-year exam is just that; practise. He has his students do exam questions every lesson to help give a direct context to the content being covered in class. ‘No athlete would train without knowing what the match will require of them,’ he says.

Accessing past exams as early as possible – not just in the weeks leading up to the exam – is a great way of understanding how you’ll be expected to apply the content. According to Buchanan, referring to previous exams ‘allows students to understand what they are learning, why they are learning the content and then how to progress and improve.’

Where should you go for assistance?

‘There are so many resources available but you should always communicate with your teacher as your first option,’ Buchanan says.

‘If this doesn’t work then be resourceful and look for alternative methods such as the VCAA website for the study design and past exams/examiner reports, alternative textbooks and other publications, visit VCE help pages and forums, as well as Edrolo and podcasts.’

Want some inspiration for your future in physical education? Check out these career insights from a VFL performance analyst.

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