First of all, congratulations on your amazing achievements! Thanks so much for agreeing to answer these questions. 😊
What was the biggest challenge you faced during year 12, and how did you overcome it?
It was really challenging at times being alone and in lockdown. Especially as the workload increased, we began to lose the sense of community and I came to understand the importance of being able struggle together, when knowing that everyone else understands what you are going through. I quickly realised that the best way to battle this was to engage with friends by doing assignments together on zoom or wasting time texting about how confusing something was, because ultimately it lightened the mood and I think that was exactly what we needed.
How did you stay motivated during this time? How did you cope with stress?
I think I quickly changed my mentality from striving for a number/result to focusing on things as they came, and just trying to put as much as I could manage into my work and study while remaining equally as focused on maintaining my wellbeing. During lockdown I did lots of bike riding and baking to release IB and COVID related frustration.
At what times and how much did you study throughout year 11 and 12? Would you recommend a study timetable?
Throughout year 11 and 12 my routine felt vastly different from many of my friends – I decided to put lots of concentrated effort into my study so that I didn’t have to work long hours and took heaps of breaks. I started early in the day and never worked past 7pm, while managing to make my way through 10 seasons of friends in the two months prior to exams.
Did you have any useful study techniques that worked well for you in terms of exam preparation?
I love active recall and spent most of my study time using this technique. This involves testing yourself on what you know about a certain topic (e.g. listing the key dates and factors involved in the lead up to World War Two), reading your notes and checking what you forgot, and repeating until you somehow manage to precariously fit all the information into your brain.
Did you keep up any hobbies or extracurriculars during year 12?
This was obviously quite a challenge given the COVID restrictions, however, I still prioritized any non-study activities that were not cancelled. For me, exercise was very important and remained something I did daily up to and during exams. I always found that once I had taken a break to do something fun, I could focus much better.
They say that you must sacrifice one of the trinity- social life, school and sleep- in order to do well in year 12. Would you say this is accurate? How did you balance all three?
Unfortunately, the social life aspect was more or less sacrificed beyond my control, which made it pretty easy to remain focused on school and get enough sleep. While I cannot claim to have mastered the art of balancing these three, I wish you all luck!
What are your plans going forward? (Uni, course etc.)
I am currently at ANU in Canberra (which is blissfully COVID-free), about to begin a Bachelor of Philosophy in Science which is basically a science research degree. I am actually quite unsure of where this will take me, which leaves me open to see what I enjoy and what I want for the future.
Anything else you’d like to say to the year 11s and 12s going through VCE/IB?
Good luck!! Be kind to yourself and remember to enjoy yourself – or at least enjoy the fact that everyone around you understands exactly what you are going through!