Year 12: “It’s just another year, I’m serious.”

The biggest mistake teachers, students and parents make when approaching year twelve, is thinking that just because the final score is calculated a little differently, this somehow turns a perfectly ordinary year into one of endless study, torturous timetables and a life of utter grey.

There are two types of people who do well in year twelve; those with academic prowess for whom failure could only occur if they died before the exam, and those who work not necessarily HARD, but EFFECTIVELY, in order to achieve the results they were hoping for.

The fact is, the education system has led you to believe that year twelve is the be-all and end-all of your existence as this age, and it really isn’t. In fact, year twelve, if approached with the expectation that you will pass and ignore the conflicting rumours amount scaling and study plans, can be just another year of school like any other. Only at the end of this one you get to jet off to Bali with a hundred dollars in your pocket and a bottle of something deadly waiting for you at a nightclub on the other side.

Here is a list of actualities when it comes to your final year, the only list you should pay any attention to:

  1. You physically cannot pay attention to the topic you are studying for longer than 25-30 minutes at a time. It’s a proven fact, that’s why NASA recommends a sixteen minute nap in between sessions to keep things going. If you are on the computer and not looking at a book, this time reduces to about 20 minute intervals. It’s a good idea to eat during your ‘Brain Breaks’.
  2. Realise from the outset that studying a few hours per topic, per week will not happen. Because when you add fifteen hours of study to work, chilling with your family, grandmas millionth birthday, the assignments and homework you will still be required to do, the SAC you have to prepare for and the license you are supposed to be getting somewhere in between, you will realise very quickly that it’s just not possible.
  3. The truth when it comes to studying is this; as long as you are doing a tiny bit before each test/SAC and you keep all your notes somewhere you can find them, you really don’t need to start studying until TERM 3. That’s right. I know it sounds like the worst nightmare of all of your teachers but studying intensely from the beginning of the year will only serve to wear you out. By all means have a read over your old topics now and again, but don’t start committing your weekends to slaving over your textbooks until the start of the third term.
  4. Cramming doesn’t work. You will exhaust your mind and body and perform worse in your test. It really doesn’t help you at all if you remembered on extra fact if you lose fifteen marks because you were too dozy to read the question properly. Instead, avoid your notes the night before as it will only make you stress that you won’t remember anything and quickly flick through them in the hours before your exam. Scan each page and then put the book away. (Or burn it. I’ve heard that is thoroughly entertaining).
  5. If you do not need a 95 ATAR then do not aim for one. It would be really nice if it was possible to do your best on every single assignment, worksheet and test you ever did, but in reality sometimes you have to give 70% the nod of approval and just move on. You passed and sometimes that just has to be enough.
  6. Exams actually are not a massive deal. Please don’t give up on me yet, I’m not insane. But it is incredibly unlikely that you will ever do an exam worth more than 50% of your overall mark for the year. Even at university. Which means if you passed all your class work, handed everything in and got through, then you pretty much can’t go wrong. Answer a single question on your exam and you’ve got more than a pass. This is why I love exams, because it is a chance to get in there and show the assessors every semi-useless fact you memorised, formula you committed to memory and skill in your toolkit. Your mark can only got up from there.
  7. Fake it till you make it. Having a positive attitude or at least pretending to, is essential to being one of the stress free, organised, doing alright types in year twelve. When other people ask how you are going tell them “Good”. They will feel calmer being around you which will actually rub off on you. This leads on to
  8. Avoid people who are easily stressed out and love to talk about it. Ever noticed how being freaked before a test and then chatting about it to your mates doesn’t necessarily make you feel any better? You are all just creating a ring of bad vibes and that does not help anyone. So if you can, keep yourself around problem solvers and not stressed out messes. And if you are one of them, please avoid making life worse for yourself and other people by not crying and complaining about it.
  9. However, getting stuff of your chest is essential. If you are feeling a bit pent-up, stressed out and need to talk to someone that is what your teachers are for. They love sitting with you for hours and helping you appreciate how far you have come and all the achievements you’ve made because they are paid to. Not really, it’s because they actually care in 99% of cases, because if you are doing well this will rub off on people and help to create a bit of a happy zone amongst the chaos. My favourite thing to do when I was stressed, was sit in the shower and tell the water everything I was stressed about. You have this cleansing association with getting clean that means you can get out and leave all that behind you.
  10. If you suck at something for the first few months of the year, you will probably not be any better at it by the end of the year. For some people things take a really long time to click, but it’s no good working your butt off and getting nowhere when your efforts could be focussed on something more productive.
  11. Don’t choose homework over television every time. Sometimes you have to recognise that enough is enough and say “NO MORE!” Walking away from something gives you time to reflect on it, which is actually one of the most important parts of the learning process. Sometimes it takes having a break to see the question with more clarity and find a solution.
  12. If you don’t like a class, pretend to. Hating a subject and then struggling with it all year can be really hard, but if you feign an interest in it, or at least part of it for long enough, it will get you through. You know what they say, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
  13. Asking for more work doesn’t actually make you a nerd, it gives you more opportunity to put into practise the skills you are learning. You remember twice as much from doing than from reading. You remember the most by telling someone else about it and engaging in a discussion. Talking is good people. So are revision booklets and handouts. And if your teacher thinks you are interested then they will often focus a bit more of their time and attention on you in class, this is why teachers’ pets are usually the smart kids. It’s a lovely cycle.
  14. There are always other options. Whilst a university degree is becoming increasingly necessary for trade and technical degrees, there are always other avenues of learning that do not require a year twelve score. Sometimes an enthusiasm for learning and working is enough to get you a course and certificate somewhere else. If not, universities have lower entry score requirements the further you get from any major city and after you turn 21, they don’t care how well you did in year twelve.
  15. No one will ask you what score you got except your grandparents and your friend who almost failed and just wants to compare. The best response is always “I got what I needed” or “Not quite enough”. People won’t press you and after a few months, you won’t even be able to remember your exact decimal place without digging out the certificate.
  16. To see what mark you got for your exam costs $30 per examination result and a further fee to find out how you did on each question. You will never know how well you did so just do your best. Or be that kid who is rich and has the time and money to buy their own exam back from the greedy assessment people.
  17. Have fun. Please. Remember every day that this is the last year you will spend with all of these people and make it your mission to know every single name before you get to graduation. You will wish you had once you’re out in the real world where people aren’t always your own age, friendly, slightly tipsy and on Facebook.

Good luck xx


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