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Study tips from high-achieving Year 12s

Year 12 can feel like a high-stakes battle: when your friend comes to class with bags under their eyes after pulling an all-nighter studying, it makes you question if you’re doing enough. Deakin Bachelor of Arts student Zoe Tilley completed Year 12 in 2016 with an ATAR of 99.1, and says ‘it’s easy to get caught up wondering if you’re studying for as many hours as your friends, or comparing how many practice tests you completed.’

But Zoe says long hours are not the key to study success. ‘Someone who studied for six hours straight may have absorbed the same amount of information as someone else who studied the content in two hours.’ So how do high-achieving Year 12s approach study? We asked them.

Practice does make perfect

A final exam can take many forms, from an English essay to a drama performance, but there is one magic study tip to cover it all: practice, practice, practice. Esdra Sicari, who received an ATAR of 89.15 in 2017 and is now studying a Bachelor of Criminology/Bachelor of Laws at Deakin, studied Year 12 subjects with essay-style assessments. So when studying, he completed written practice questions and got them marked by his teachers. Research from Psychological Science in the Public Interest confirms that one of the most effective study techniques is practice testing.

Zoe, who studied drama and art, says that even in these practical subjects, ‘The most important study tool was revising and practicing using the correct terminology in responses.’ By doing this, she became familiar with the language and structure of the answers required. Deakin Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce student Maxwell Bond, who graduated with an ATAR of 97.4 in 2017, says he also found practice makes perfect. ‘Doing practice tests prepared me for things I did not already have in my notes, and helped me improve the way I wrote my answers.’

'The most important study tool was revising and practising using the correct terminology in responses.'

Zoe Tilley,
Student, Deakin University

Let your teachers help

Your teachers have years and years of experience – that’s why they can fill a 90 minute class with so much knowledge and information. But it doesn’t have to end when the bell rings. Teachers are your best resource, and if you actually ask for a hand, they’re pretty much a golden ticket to success. ‘Teachers are there to help you, so utilise their knowledge and advice fully,’ is Zoe’s advice. Esdra says his study tip for success is to, ‘get your work marked by your teachers, and if possible get them to go through it with you.’ Research in Applied Cognitive Psychology shows that getting feedback on tests leads to ‘better subsequent test performance’, so don’t be afraid to ask for notes from your teacher!

Find your balance

You might be a master at juggling every task on your plate, but you shouldn’t kick yourself for putting it all down once in a while. Zoe says, ‘It’s an incredibly stressful year, so don’t be hard on yourself. Listen to your body; when you need a rest, take a break.’ Esdra agrees, ‘Just make sure you have a balanced lifestyle, with regular breaks between studying.’ The most significant reason to take care of yourself is to make sure you don’t burn out – the stress of Year 12 is prolonged and exhausting. Setting up good study habits is paramount, including finding work-life balance, which Maxwell says is ‘very important to find’. Zoe says a great way to maintain balance is to ‘set achievable goals for yourself – this is motivating and keeps study smart and focused’.

Good study habits stick

‘The time management skills I learnt in Year 12 prepared me well for university,’ Zoe says, confirming that the study habits you make early will carry over into your tertiary studies. Maxwell agrees: ‘The main thing that set me up for university was the study habits I got myself used to.’

Feeling nervous about the next step after high school? Here’s some first-hand experience on what life is like after Year 12.

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