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?
COVID, without a doubt. But more specifically, the biggest challenge for me was dealing with the uncertainty of Year 12 graduation/exams starting mid-July after the second wave (the misinformation about IB on fb and reddit which I succumbed to definitely wasn’t helping). Fortunately, Ms Pohl was an awesome co-ordinator for the IB cohort and helped us by providing grounded facts and wellbeing support. I did overcome this challenge upon finally resigning to the actuality that we can only control what is possible to control, i.e. our attitudes and our own study schedules. Ultimately, variables like whether or not exams will happen, or if they’re happening online/in-person, are outside of our control and should not affect what we do.
How did you stay motivated during this time? How did you cope with stress?
For staying motivated to study during Year 12, it really helped me to video-call friends on Teams for silent (or not) study sessions. Having cameras on and chatting occasionally fostered the ‘we’re in this together’ mindset which made me feel more liable for my own study and also made it more enjoyable. In regards to stress, something that helped me cope was limiting my usage of social media (‘Cold Turkey’ works excellently for the weak-hearted, like myself). There was obviously a lot going on around the world in 2020 and understandably we all want to stay up-to-date with current affairs and our friends’ lives, but I found it really beneficial to sometimes disconnect from the negativity in the media which was contributing to my stress.
At what times and how much did you study throughout year 11 and 12? Would you recommend a study timetable?
I had a fairly regular schedule in Year 11; I’d take the bus home, eat snacks, walk my dog, eat dinner, study, watch tv… etc. I didn’t have a study timetable back then, but instead used a daily to-do list. In Year 12, my study was a bit all over the place because it started blurring together with online school, so I didn’t have the best habits. Luckily I started a study timetable in the month leading up to first exam, and it really helped me visualise how to go about dividing time between all my subjects – so I’d definitely recommend one.
Did you have any useful study techniques that worked well for you in terms of exam preparation?
Read the subject reports that are published by senior examiners. They exist for each IB subject per exam session, and to my knowledge for the VCE too. Once you start your exam preparation (generally just before the mocks), you can gain so much worth out of reading what the examiners themselves have noted as pitfalls to look out for in the exam, as well as what it takes to succeed.
Did you keep up any hobbies or extracurriculars during year 12?
I kept up my COVID-safe hobbies (baking, playing with my dog, watching Netflix) pretty consistently throughout year 12 and also went through the Chloe Ting faze of doing home workouts as a means to keep fit during lockdown. It was a very formative experience, I must say. In the category of extracurriculars, I did debating (or as my friends and I called it, ‘zoombating’).
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?
Honestly, the truth is that it just depends on yourself – I’m sure there are some of you who will be able to balance the load and others who might struggle a bit more. Personally, I didn’t have to make a sacrifice since COVID made the executive decision to scrap my social life on behalf of me! Nonetheless, the hard reality is that time is finite so the three are a trade-off – at the end of the day, just make the choices that’ll bring you the most happiness. For me, I wasn’t willing to let go of sleep so I prioritised maintaining a good sleep schedule (8-9 hrs) over late-night study for the most part.
What are your plans going forward? (Uni, course etc.)
Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne!
Anything else you’d like to say to the year 11s and 12s going through VCE/IB?
Good luck, I wish you all the best – you can do it! You might feel overwhelmed or hopeless at times, but I promise if you stay resilient you’ll make it through. Also, don’t forget to appreciate the privileges and events you get to experience in Senior School; it’s the most memorable 2 years, so have fun while you’re at it. 🙂