With the VCE exams currently taking place, a lot of students in years 9 and 10 will no doubt be nervously looking ahead to their own futures and the challenges that lay ahead of them. I have had a lot of experience helping students with the transition into VCE. One thing I have noticed is that this transition is easier for some students that for others. Some students take to VCE like ducks to water, scoring consistently high marks on their SACs from the start of the year. For others, the first few months of VCE are a blind panic, as they struggle to keep their head above water as they figure out how to organise their notes, manage their time and structure their own revision. So, what’s the reason behind this? What makes some students so much more suited for VCE than others? More importantly, what can you do to ensure that, come the start of year 11, your child is one of the students who thrives?
1. Encourage Their Independence
One of the biggest shocks that students encounter when they start VCE is how independent they are required to be. No longer will teachers walk them through every concept, tell them how to revise for tests, or give exact instructions about what homework needs to be done each week. While your child will still get assigned homework, this constitutes only a small fraction of the total work they need to be doing if they want to achieve good marks; the rest is made up of individual and self-determined study and revision. In order to prepare your child for this, it is a good idea to encourage their independence from an early age. Instead of telling them exactly what homework they need to do and when they need to do it, ask them what they need to achieve and encourage them to develop their own plans for how they will get the necessary work done. While they may need your guidance from time to time, the more you can teach your child to plan and structure their own study time, the more they will be prepared for the challenges ahead.
2. Foster A Love Of Reading
If you are going to perform well in VCE, you need to be able to read quickly, efficiently and productively for extended periods of time. Of course, this is most important in subjects like English, where students are expected to read and interpret novels and articles. Students who struggle to make it through their novels before it comes time to discuss them in class will inevitably have a disadvantage. However, the ability to read well also affects basically every other subject. Whether it be revising a difficult concept in a Maths Methods textbook, remembering definitions for a Psychology SAC, revising a big stack of old Physics notes or interpreting a difficult question on an Accounting exam, good reading skills are vital. Fortunately, if you get in early, this is a skill that you can easily help your child develop. All you need to do is ensure that they regularly have access to books and distraction-free spare time; all they need to do is to read as much and as widely as possible!
3. Develop Their Organisation Skills
A VCE student is revising for their final exam. They remember that their teacher mentioned a particularly difficult question that is likely to come up. Unfortunately, they know that their teacher mentioned this particular question several months ago in term 1. In this scenario, there are two types of students. 1) The student who knows that they wrote down the question but doesn’t remember where they wrote it down, whether they still have it or whether they will be able to understand their notes if they find it. And 2) The student who locates the right notebook, flicks back to the correct page (which is easy, because the dates of each class are written on each page) and finds the question they are looking for. As you can imagine, in VCE, the ability to stay organised makes a huge difference when it comes to revision. If your child is prone to losing their schoolwork, forgetting deadlines and keeping their notes in chaotic disarray, then now is the time to start establishing good habits. Encourage them to keep a diary and develop a logical system for storing and organising their notes.
4. Encourage Goal Setting
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the students who perform well at VCE are more often than not the students who know why they’re doing it. Most students have vague notions: they want to get into University so they can make lots of money, they want to impress their parents, they want to beat their sibling’s ATAR score. Others don’t quite know why they’re doing it at all. But the students who perform well are those with specific personal goals who know exactly what they want to achieve from their VCE. Students who have personal goals are more likely to study harder, because they associate working with positive feelings about what they might achieve. Goal setting also allows students to focus on long-term tasks more effectively. Encourage your child to think about what they want to get out of VCE. Is there a course they are particularly passionate about? Is there a scholarship they might be able to win? Is there a dream career they are chasing? The earlier you can encourage your child to step back and think about the big picture, the more motivated they will be once they start year 11.
VCE success doesn’t start in year 12, or even year 11. Now is the time to start fostering the habits that will allow your child to reach their full potential. If you have any questions about how we can help, give us a call today!