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?
Keeping on top of all the assignments, homework, IAs and tests being thrown at me- all whilst balancing music, sports, competitions, school and House activities and prefect duties- was definitely a huge challenge for me, especially before lockdown started. I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed at times, and I would often arrive home with a million things swimming around my mind and not know where or how to start my evening. However, creating an achievable to-do list for every day, and making sure to focus my mind on one thing at a time, really helped to overcome this challenge.
How did you stay motivated during this time? How did you cope with stress?
My source of motivation came from constantly questioning myself why I was doing what I was doing – asking myself what exactly it was about the subject that I loved, appreciating how this information came to be discovered in the first place, and making links between what I was learning and applications in real life- all of these really motivated me to keep on studying.
In terms of stress, I would make sure to dedicate a lot of my time to relaxing and taking breaks from studying. During lockdown in particular, I made sure to take an hour out of every day to exercise, and I still managed to listen to music and watch youtube a lot 🙂 I think it’s important to remember that taking breaks, rather than being unproductive, can actually help with productiveness later on when you return back to studying, as your mind is now more refreshed than before.
At what times and how much did you study throughout year 11 and 12? Would you recommend a study timetable?
I would say that my Year 11 and Year 12 study lives were extremely different actually… in Year 11, I was involved in so many extra-curriculars that I would get back home late every night, so I would either spend the rest of the night quickly finishing off my homework, or I would find spare time in between classes the next day to catch up on work. (I don’t recommend this btw!! It’s good to get involved, but don’t burn yourself out and leave yourself with virtually no time to study)
In Year 12, during online learning, I would try to finish the homework immediately after the class ended, so that I would still be on the same train of thought. This left me with more free time in the evenings to relax or video call with friends 🙂
I actually wouldn’t recommend a study timetable, seeing as the amount of work you have to do for each subject varies greatly depending on what assignments you have, and what you are learning in each subject; forcing yourself to stick to a study timetable might end up inconveniencing you more than it will end up helping you. Instead, I would recommend just creating a clear and detailed to-do list for every day, keeping at the back of your mind the work you need to do to keep up with each of your subjects.
Did you have any useful study techniques that worked well for you in terms of exam preparation?
Yes! I think that in terms of exam preparation, the most important thing to keep in mind is to vary the way you study depending on the specific demands of the subject. For example, whilst past papers are extremely helpful for subjects such as math and sciences, I personally think that spending time on developing quality ideas and clarifying what the criteria requires you to do for essay-based subjects is more worthwhile than doing past papers.
However, where past papers are concerned, a tip that I would give is to keep a notebook or a OneNote page full of every question you got wrong or were unsure about, and review this page/notebook before you start your next past paper for at least three days, to ensure that you learn from your past mistakes.
Did you keep up any hobbies or extracurriculars during year 12?
Absolutely! Although COVID made it slightly difficult, I still continued practicing piano and clarinet, exercised daily, attended my youth group regularly, fulfilled my duties as F&W prefect, and participated in House events and other school activities. I still continued co-leading SPARK, SPARK Jnr and PRISM during this time; I was still involved in volunteering, and I still participated in numerous competitions. It’s definitely possible to balance school life with extracurriculars and hobbies, as long as you have a real passion for them!
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?
Surprisingly, I wouldn’t say that this is accurate- as long as you know how to manage your time well, it should be pretty doable to have all three in your Year 12 life. Keep focused and productive whilst you’re studying, hang out with your friends for a while after school (last year, it was video calling due to COVID) or maybe even form study groups to socialise and study at the same time, and make sure you prioritise a regular and healthy sleep schedule above all!
What are your plans going forward? (Uni, course etc.)
I’ll be studying Biomedicine at Unimelb for my undergrad, before doing Law JD also at Unimelb! People have conveyed their confusion at the strangeness of this combination, but I’m hoping to expose myself to a broad range of disciplines to really explore everything I can (through my Commerce and Arts breadth subjects as well)… I’m looking forward to it 🙂
Anything else you’d like to say to the year 11s and 12s going through VCE/IB?
Don’t feel like you need to give up any of your hobbies for these two years- with these two years being your last years of high school, get yourself involved in everything you’re passionate about. Especially while you’re still at school and have plenty of resources, really make the most of this time while it still lasts!
And in terms of studying, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or to not understand much at first- as long as you work hard to understand the content properly and learn from your mistakes (aim to not receive the same constructive feedback twice!!), you will improve over time. Have faith in yourself!!! You can do this 🙂