Whether it’s your first or last year of VCE, it’s well known that the final years of high school can be stressful.
During the year, you’re likely to be bombarded with school events, co-curriculars, social events, new Netflix series, and possibly even a new romance among other things.
In amongst all the chaos and teenage emotions, it can feel like there’s not enough time to do your best in SACs or exams … but don’t freak out!
While the road to graduation is tough, many students often regard their VCE years as some of the best of their life - you just have to prepare early.
Having completed VCE amongst many peers who achieved amazing results, I’ve realised the key to maintaining balance while travelling along the rocky VCE road is to have a strategy for managing stress and deadlines.
Here’s some advice about what you can do over the summer to help with your VCE preparation and prime yourself for the upcoming year.
Regardless of your desired ATAR goal, following these tips over the summer holidays will help you to have a more rewarding year - both in terms of results and happiness.
1. Make a list of your goals and what motivates you
Heading into the first day of class, you want to have a clear idea of what you’re hoping to achieve - your desired ATAR, individual subjects results, and goals beyond the classroom.
Write a list down and keep it somewhere that you will see it; it could be up on your wall, your shower screen or your desktop background.
Be honest with yourself and make the goals challenging but achievable.
There’ll be times throughout the year when you come home from school and the last thing you’ll want to see is your textbook on your desk, but having clear goals,
and more importantly knowing WHY you want to work towards those goals,
will drive you away from your bed and towards your desk to hit the books.
My personal motivation was to make sure that by the end of the year, I was able to walk out of my last exam with no regrets.
Other sources of motivation might be getting into your dream university, gaining scholarships, being able to tutor, etc.
Just remember, Good results don’t come easy, so taking 5 minutes to set your goals before you start your year will motivate you to work hard.
2. Look back and learn!
This might be hard to believe, but even those who scored perfect ATARs made some mistakes along the way!
More importantly, though, top students are always looking to learn from their mistakes, this is what makes them top students.
If you’re continuing on from your Unit 1/2 subjects or even if you’re picking up completely new ones, take some time to look back on whether you’re satisfied with your performance in the past few years. Pinpoint what worked well for you and what didn’t.
Often (but not always), the Unit 3/4 course follows closely from the 1/2 course, and the strategies for doing well are quite similar.
If you were happy with how you went and how you studied, then think about how you could improve! There’s always room for improvement, so brainstorm what the next step is for you in achieving that big score.
3. Seek out advice
While it is always good to learn from your mistakes, it’s even better to ask those who’ve made all those mistakes already so you can avoid them altogether.
If you have friends who’ve completed your subjects in the past few years, it’s a good idea to seek out advice from them.
Send them a short message asking for some tips on how they’d approach the subject, as well as things to look out for.
Most people are more than happy to give advice out, but do keep in mind that for the most part it will only be general advice and not too specific.
If you’re looking for that extra edge, then a tutor can be another excellent source of help. Tutors are usually more than happy to start during the summer holidays and can help you to understand concepts and give you detailed feedback and advice for tackling your subject.
4. Think about getting a head start!
While you should take advantage of the summer break to recharge your batteries in preparation for a big year, it’s also a great opportunity to get a head start on your coursework once you’re well-rested.
Have a look at the study design, grab your allocated textbook, maybe buy some notes off past top scorers and start writing and studying when you can.
This will help you to get a head start on learning the content and in preparing your own notes.
You don’t have to study countless hours, just enough to build your confidence and give you a buffer before classes start.
If you keep yourself well organized throughout the year, the time you invest in summer will eventually result in you having more time to prepare for the all-important exam period!
5. Planning your attack
If you’d rather be on the beach soaking up the summer sun and you don’t feel like getting into the nitty-gritty of your subjects, there are still ways you can prepare for the year ahead.
One idea is to organize your subjects into folders on your laptop, and write out a ‘plan of attack’.
This doesn’t have to be too complicated, but it can include things like how you’ll take notes, how you’ll prepare for SACs, and checklists of things you might want to do before your SAC/exam date.
Once you start the year, it is easy to get carried away and forget about the little things, so planning is crucial.
The Summer holidays are a period of rest and freedom before you start your challenging year of VCE, but they can also be a great time to organise yourself and get ahead of the pack!
Use this time wisely and you’ll find that your VCE years might be some of the best of your life. Good luck!
Written by Daniel Yii, Head of VCE Tutoring with Crimson Education.