If you are a year 12 student completing the final year of your VCE or IB diploma, the clock is ticking; the game is on. The time to work for VCE students is now. Successful students understand this. A successful student has already spent their holidays reading their English texts, getting organised and trying not to forget how to differentiate polynomials. A successful student knows that, from day one, they have to be organised, focused and ready to work.

Unfortunately, for some students, now is the time to start making excuses and compromises, to start telling themselves little fibs that make them feel better about the disorganised procrastination ahead of them in the next few months. Students are great at justifying their own bad behaviour. They tell themselves that they will study later, that this test isn’t all that important, that it’s ok that they got a D on their SAC because the rest of the class did poorly too. Unfortunately, these little fibs can have make the difference between a student who achieves their goals and one that falls short. So today, I aim to cut these fibs off at their source. Below are the 5 most common lies that VCE students tell themselves, and why they are completely false.

1. My SAC scores don’t matter as long as I do well on the exam.

I have heard this one many times. A student, unwilling to work hard on their SACs throughout the year, reassures themselves that, come exam time, they will make up for their poor performance with a last minute display of genius. This is dangerous thinking for two reasons. Firstly, SACS actually do matter very much. The SACs given throughout the year are used to rank the students in each class. Based on this ranking, the study scores for each of their subjects may go up or down. A low ranking student who does well on the exam might actually get a lower study score than a high-ranking student who does slightly worse on the exam! Secondly, studying for SACs is a great way of practising the valuable study skills required to achieve success on the final exam. After all, who do you think will be able to study better: a student who has cruised through the year, or one who has diligently studied and revised their notes for every single one of their assessments?

2. Subjects like Psychology or Health are the easy subjects.

There is a common myth that some subjects are ‘easier’ than others because they are scaled down. Subjects like Psychology, Graphic Design and Physical Education are considered less strenuous than subjects like Physics and Specialist Maths. Some students take this to mean that these subjects are “easier,” that they don’t need to work as hard at these subjects to do well. This could not be further from the truth. A student studying Psychology not only has to contend with the inevitable scaling down of their study score, they also have to compete with the above-average number of students completing the subject. While the exam may be easy, it will be equally easy for the other tens of thousands of students sitting it. Whilst doing average in Specialist Maths might yield a good study score, doing average in Psychology or Design is simply not good enough. To get a good score in these “easy” subjects, students have to stand out from this crowd. The good news is that the higher a student’s study score in these subjects, the less it gets scaled down. A 50 in Psychology stays a 50. That is not easy, but it is worth aiming for.

3. If you do harder subjects like Specialist and Chemistry, you’ll get a better ATAR score.

This myth goes hand-in-hand with the one above. There are students who believe that some subjects are inherently good and some that are inherently bad. Subjects like Specialist Maths are tricky because they are a good idea for some students, and a terrible idea for others. On one hand, students who excel at Maths and take Specialist are likely to increase their chance of getting a high ATAR score, because Specialist is scaled up quite significantly. However, students who aren’t highly competent in their mathematical abilities and are just doing Specialist for the sake of the scaling are likely to struggle with the advanced coursework, which will take time away from more achievable subjects, and receive a consequently poorer score than they would have if they had simply chosen a more suitable subject. The trick is that each and every student needs to assess their own abilities, interests and pick the subjects that suits them and their future goals.

4. I don’t want to be a mathematician, so I don’t have to do Methods.

That said, a student should think very carefully before turning their back on maths. Some students find mathematics painful; they have been baffled by x’s and y’s since they started high school. However, before deciding to drop maths, all students should think seriously about the university courses they wish to apply for, and carefully check the prerequisite subjects for each of these courses. A lot of courses, particularly in the fields of science, economics, engineering and biomedicine require students to have completed Maths Methods.

5. I can’t start studying for my exam yet.

Yes you can! Yes! Start now! It is never too early to start studying for an exam. Students who leave their exam study for SWOT VAC are doomed to a week of panic and confusion. Students who want to be successful will spend their entire year developing revision sheets, refining their notes, attempting exam questions, going over each of their SACs with a magnifying glass and making sure they learn all the skills and keep all the necessary resources required to be as prepared as possible come November. VCE is not a sprint to the finish; it is a marathon, a long haul, and the sooner students start applying themselves to the challenge, the more successful they will be.

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