Definition of Success

IT’S EARLY September.  Right about the time when Year 12 students start to come undone as final exams draw near.  The fun of the formal fades into a distant memory as the enormity of University choices (or lack thereof) become apparent.  Speaking as one who crackled under this pressure in by-gone years(and survived) and more recently as a tutor… are some (useful) thoughts:

1. Writing notes does not necessarily equal to learning.  There is no point re-writing the whole text book if none of it is retained in your memory.  Find out how you learn best and use it to your advantage. 

2. When you study for humanity subjects (English, legal studies, history etc) handwrite your answers.  Yes, the computer is useful and yes, the ipad is pretty….but in the exam you’re going to have to handwrite your answers.  Practice so that you are used to it – we often over-estimate how much we can write when we rely on the computer.

3.  Learn what you don’t know and not what you know.  I know it sounds obvious, but often people revise what they already know because it boosts their confidence.  Be self aware and tackle those tricky ones!  Each new concept you ‘get’ means one less concept you don’t ‘get’.

4.  Don’t skimp on doing practice papers – they are the singular best way to find out how you are going and what you need to focus on!  If you do enough practice papers, you’re likely to get a topic or question in the exam which you have attempted.  There’s only so many ways a question can be asked.

5.  Use the study design to your advantage (I didn’t do this back in Year 12) – the dot points are what you need to know.  They are one of the best summaries and study tools around (but which are often overlooked).

6.  Finally, re-adjust your definition of success if need be.  No one can ask you for more than your best.  When it all becomes too much, try to learn for the sake of learning and not VCE.  Remember any subject is fascinating in itself (although it may not appear so when you have no choice but to learn it).  Knowledge adds to your life – it not only makes you more interesting to talk to, but it helps you to relate to those who are different to yourself.  Give it your all.  But know that if the final result is not exactly as you have hoped, there are many paths for getting to the same destination.  Life is full of second chances!

Below is a poem that my VCE Chemistry teacher gave me prior to my final exams.  I have revamped it a bit by painting a picture with it.  Life is bigger than VCE – although it might not feel like it at the time.