For all the year 12 students out there, it is approaching the business end of the year. Within a month, thousands of Victorian students will be sitting their VCE exams in the hope of achieving a high ATAR score in order to be offered a place in the university course of their choice. Some will be successful, others will not, but each and every one of them will probably start feeling the pressure of looming exams in the coming month.
If your child is sitting their VCE exams this year, then the next few weeks are absolutely vital to whether or not they will be successful. No matter how hard they have worked over the past year, it is what they do in the final weeks of study and exam preparation that really makes a difference. And it’s not merely a matter of working hard; it’s a matter of thinking ahead, assessing your weaknesses, planning your approach and figuring out exactly what you need to do to be 100% prepared for your exams.
Today, I will be giving 5 last minute VCE study tips, aimed to ensure that your child’s study over the coming weeks is structured, efficient and successful.
1. Figure out what you need to know
This may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many students charge in blindly, reading all their notes, writing out revision sheets and attempting practice exams without actually knowing exactly what skills they will be tested on during their exams.
It’s a great idea for your child to track down the study designs for each of their subjects. These can be found on the VCAA website here. These study designs give a very clear list of exactly what your child is expected to know for the exam, and exactly what types of questions they might receive.
Once your child has found the study designs for their subjects, these can be used to figure out what areas they need to focus on. It’s a good idea for your child to look through the study design and make a note of whether they find each area easy, medium or hard. This can be done after a practice exam, or while revising notes and SACs from earlier in the year. Once your child knows which areas are the most challenging, it’s much easier for them to figure out what they should focus on first.
3. Make a plan
Planned study is good study. Before your child even starts to revise for their exams, they should have a very clear plan. They should think about the following question.
-When is each of my exams?
-How long do I have to study for each subject?
-How many different topics are in each subject?
-Which topics do I have the most difficulty on?
-When will I study each topic?
-How many practice exams do I have available?
-When should I try my practice exams?
The point of making a good study plan is that, on any given day, your child should know exactly what subject they will be studying that day, which unit they will be focusing on, and what tasks they need to complete. It’s also a great way of making sure that your child doesn’t panic; it’s much easier to feel calm about study if you have a clear plan of how and when you are going to get it all done.
4. Make the most of practice exams
There’s a good way to do a practice exam and there’s a bad way.
The bad way looks like this:
-Sitting down at the start of SWOT VAC and completing as many practice exams as possible.
-Guessing the answer to questions you don’t understand
-Ticking all the answers you got right and crossing all the answers you got wrong.
-Getting a bad score.
-Thinking “I better study harder.”
The good way looks like this
-Making sure you know how many practice exams you have available
-Spacing out your practice exams so you can complete roughly 1 per week throughout the study period
-Making sure you have all required resources available
-Making sure you take the practice exam under test conditions
-Taking note of which questions you didn’t understand
-Carefully going over your results once you have finished to see which areas you are confident with and which areas you need to focus on in the future
-Using the examiners report to figure out how you should have answered each incorrect question
The difference between these two approaches is this: What you do after the practice exam is just as important as what you do during the practice exams. Practice exams should be used to assess your own progress and figure out which areas you need to focus on in the coming weeks.
5. Take time to reflect
Every time you sit a practice exam, you should reassess your progress. Did you perform better than last time? Did you do any better on topics that you struggled on last time? Did your study help? Why/why not? What should you focus on in the near future? How can you modify your study schedule to be more successful?
The more you think honestly about your progress, the more likely it is that you can think of ways to improve.