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How to pass Year 12 Psychology

If you’re fascinated by how the brain works, love observing others and uncovering what makes them tick, then you’re probably enrolled in Year 12 Psychology.

In fact, Psychology is one of the most popular VCE subjects, with more than 15,000 students studying it. And why’s this important? Well, these are the people you’re competing with in the race to achieve a great study score and ultimately an ATAR you’ll be happy with.

To help you succeed, we caught up with Pam Barbadonis, a Year 12 Psychology teacher at Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College. She offers her advice for getting the best VCE study score possible for Psychology.

Set a goal and stick to it

‘I absolutely love Psychology and never get tired of teaching it or learning about new things that are being discovered, like the robotic arm that works on thought control, or the use of ‘Pink Light’ as a new treatment for Alzheimer’s,’ Pam explains. ‘As a Year 12 student, you won’t like everything you do in Psychology but hopefully you too see the benefits of studying such an amazing subject.’

‘From the start of your studies, set a goal and keep the end in mind. Think about what study score you’d be happy with in Psychology. Now, what are you prepared to do to achieve that? Think about how many hours a week you’ll need to devote to Psychology to get that score. And bear in mind what skills you have – and what your areas for improvement are.’

Prepare ahead of time

‘There’s no way you can learn everything you need to know in class time so do your glossaries at home before you begin a new topic,’ Pam suggests.

‘Make notes under each of the dot points from the study design so that you have a comprehensive set of notes. Knowing your definitions in Psychology is also a must, so develop cue cards to help you test yourself.’

‘It also helps to read your textbooks with a highlighter in hand as the highlighted information will become your notes. Highlighters are also very important to use in exams, drawing your brain to key terms and command words so that you do as the exam paper asks,’ Pam advises.


‘This is where you put into practise the vast amount of information you’ve gathered. After finishing a chapter, make posters, flowcharts, mind maps and T-Tables to summarise and compare important information.’

‘Read and annotate other people’s research too, applying your knowledge of research methods whenever possible. You’ll be asked about this on the exam, so prepare yourself for it,’ she adds.

Practice, practice, practice

‘You can never do enough practice questions in Psychology. Every textbook has review questions at the end of each chapter so do them all – whether they’re multiple choice or short-answer.’

‘Also, make sure you read the examiner’s report for the last few years so you can understand where students lost marks and what was expected of them,’ Pam suggests.

‘At the end of Unit 3, do at least three exam papers under exam conditions in the July school holidays. Mark these papers yourself and seek teacher assistance with the concepts you don’t understand. Attend one revision lecture during the holidays and use the notes they give you to add to yours.’

‘At the end of Unit 4, allow enough time to complete somewhere between 10 and 15 exam papers before the exam in November.’

Have fun while you learn

Learning isn’t all about sitting down in front of a text book – here’ s a few tips from Pam to inject a little fun into your revision:

  • Form study groups with your ‘psych buddies’ and test each other regularly.
  • Get your family involved and give them a psych fun fact at the dinner table each night, e.g. “Did you know that…..”.
  • Look around you – what real life examples can you see? What movies can you watch in your down time that will help you?
  • YouTube is an amazing resource for Psychology. Every topic you study is there, so you can have fun watching your key knowledge come to life (but set a time limit before you find yourself lost in a world of cat videos!)
  • Read about other people’s research. Listen out for reports in the media that talk about latest studies.

‘Psychology is the most interesting and real life subject you can do in VCE, although, admittedly I’m a little biased!’ Pam says. ‘Ultimately, use these tips to do your very best – no-one can ask for anything more.’

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