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July 31, 2016
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How many times have you told yourself, "I'm going to start doing this, "once I graduate from high school."
For me, I had a long list of things I wanted to start doing once I finished year 12.
We've all been there, because our priority in year 12 is doing assessments and exams. We have this romanticized version of what reality will look like after high school. All those things that you had put off, all those things that you'd promise yourself that you would do, the time has come. Whether that be catching up with long lost friends, whether that be joining the gym and getting fit again, or starting to read books again, especially for pleasure now that you don't have to read for school. Except boo, I won't get to read Lisa's amazing blog's and study guides. I'll start picking up my hobby of dancing again, I'll start doing this, I'll start doing that, but then usually, this happens. Once I marathon "Terrace House", then I'll look at gym memberships.
The main message I want you to take away is, you're always going to find excuses for the things that you really want to do. It took me an additional six years until I started reading again after high school.
As soon as I started uni, I started making up excuses, "Ah, I've got uni, I'm busy making friends, "I'm busy going to uni parties." It wasn't until I actually finished uni that I started picking up my hobby of reading. Same thing with dancing, I stopped dancing before I went into VCE, before my final years of high school, so that I could focus on my exams, but I wanted to get back into it. But it took me another three years until I got back into that.
So my question to you is, how long is it going to take you before you commit to doing that thing that you really want to do, and becoming the person that you want to be? This is something that we have to battle with throughout our entire lives. It's the same case for me with this particular YouTube channel. It's taken me almost two years to figure out what I want to do with this channel, how to break away from just English, so I can focus on more millennial based topics, like this video, offering advice about the things that I've learned throughout my 20's and impart them onto you.
So if you're in year 12, I'd absolutely love it if you stuck around to watch the next few videos that will be coming out. I'll be basing topics on things like university experiences, how to land your first job outside of high school, what else, productivity hacks, and all the things that will help prepare you for the world that's out there, and be the best version of yourself. Congratulations to you because you're nearing the end of the year and you're so close to sitting your exams. I hope that everything that I've done this year has been able to help you, and nourish you, and nurture you to become a better student who is ready to kick some ass.
Since it's not time to say bye yet, I'll say see you soon.
Have you ever come out of an exam or test and felt like you’ve nailed it? I’m guessing after you come out of that exam room, you and your friends crowd around the building screaming out the answers you got for each question or the types of ideas you came up with from the prompt given. But then results day arrive…and you’re sitting at your desk anxiously waiting for the teacher to hand you your paper. As soon as they place the test paper on your desk, you remain sitting there just staring...
Do you usually do this when you come across such a situation?
From my observations and experiences, there are generally 4 main types of reactions people have:
1. the complainer (the person who’s never satisfied with anything),
2. the one who has no care in the world,
3. the silent sufferer (the person who is disappointed with the score but does nothing to change it)
4. and the calm one (the ideal level we all aspire to reach).
1. DON’T ALLOW THE SCORE TO DEFINE YOU! I’m sure you’ve heard so many people tell you that you are more than just one score. And let me tell you that they’re absolutely right! That one test score won’t make so much of a difference in the long run. It may trigger some unsettling emotions throughout the day, but it’s not going to matter in a year.
2. Look at the score you got and then just put it at the back of your mind. Just don’t think too much about it in class. It may stress you out even more, cause you to divide your attention between what the teacher is saying and your own thoughts. Dwelling on what you cannot change, especially if it concerns the past is the worse idea and a better option would be to distract yourself with happy thoughts (obviously not while you’re supposed to be listening to your teacher).
3. Talk to your teacher and ask them why you have attained this particular score. By having a one-on-one conversation with them you can tell them why you thought you did better or where you believe you’ve missed marks. I’m sure they’ll be willing to help you out. If not, you could sit down and chat with another teacher about the test and get their feedback on it. Collecting feedback from various teachers (or even friends, tutors, etc.) can be useful in knowing which areas you need to improve on most.
4. Try to consider the concept of failure as your ‘First Attempt In Learning.’ Learn from your mistakes by re-evaluating your previous approach to the question, or the ideas and evidence you put out there. Look at where you lost the marks and redo the test if possible. Get it remarked by your teacher or even a friend. Keep going and don’t give up!
5. Avoid talking to those ‘stuck up’ students. You should most definitely distance yourself from people who make you feel uncomfortable or lower your self-esteem. It may seem tough at first, especially since you may be confined together in the same school or even classroom, but it’s to the benefit of your mental health. To do this, you could not sit next to them class or just let them know that you’re not comfortable with sharing your scores with them and would rather talk about other topics.
6. Make more friends (just exclude those who were mentioned previously)!. Create study groups and revise together before a test or exam. Ask them about how they study for the specific subject or area of study and if you can read some of their work to get an idea of to how approach specific questions.
7. Be flexible and adaptable! Once you know that you’ve made a mistake, don’t make it again. Change up specific parts of your answer where you lost marks or just change the entire answer completely to fulfil the criteria. For example, when it comes to English, examiners are always advising students to not go into the exam with memorised responses. By going into the exam with memorised responses, you’re not going to be able to modify or mould your response to fit the specific prompt in front of you, costing you the marks you want. Just have ideas and evidence in mind that you know you can use when relevant rather than spilling unnecessary quotes here and there.
8. Balance is key. Wise advice that I received from one of my teachers in year 12 was to study a bit of every subject on the days you plan to study. Don’t cram and only focus on one subject a week before the SAC. If having a structured routine doesn’t work for you, it’s okay to ditch the timetable you have created yourself and just go with the flow. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just know when you should study
Finally, my last message to you all is to just take it easy, stay on a pace that works for you. Don’t stress too much about a score that’s not going to matter in the long run, and most importantly, don’t compare yourself to those around you.
Reading your VCE books during your summer holidays might sound a little mundane, especially when you can spend that time with family and friends, but it will be one of the best things you would’ve done for yourself in preparation for your VCE year. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later. The difference with these holidays compared with others is that you have an incredibly important year of schooling lurking around the corner – one that is stressful for most, if not all students. So, for your own benefit, you should definitely take advantage of this break! Having read your books once before you start the school year gives you a major advantage over students who haven’t. Let’s look at some reasons why:
1. Preparing your mindset.
Once you have read your books, you will have a good idea of what you’re heading into during the school year. When the teacher begins to teach the text in class, you will be clear on the ideas discussed, in comparison to other students who will still be reading their texts. You’ll be able to easily build connections between class discussions and the book, whereas other students will definitely struggle. Often, they will miss a vital piece of information brought up in class simply because they didn’t realise how significant that idea is to a section in the book or even the book as a whole!
2. Exposure to all the possibilities.
Even though you might not start studying a text until mid-way through the year or even in Term 4, having read the books gives you a head start on absorbing all the information around you. Throughout the year, you may come across something that catches your eye on the internet (whether it be from a news source or online blog) that you see has ideas which relate to one of the texts you will be studying in the near future. The best thing is that you’ll be able to bookmark it for a later date to revisit! For example, if one of your texts is Brooklyn, a novel about an Irish woman’s immigration to America, if you come across stories about immigration, or references to Irish versus American culture, then this would be ideal for you to save for later!
3. Lighten the workload in VCE.
You’ve already done half the work if you read your novels in the holidays. Many teachers and VCE examiners recommend at least reading your texts twice before your exam (read more about this here). This is because the first read is often to grasp ideas and get an overall understanding of the text. The second reading is for analysis, exploring in detail particular ideas, quotes and others. Since VCE is a heavy-workload year, it would definitely be a smart move if you lifted some of that weight during your holidays. Many people think it will be fine to leave the reading task to the last minute – right before they start studying the text in class, but knowing VCE, SACs and assignments will be thrown your way, meaning that you’ll have less time than you had intended to read. So the earlier you get started, the better!
The summer break is definitely a time when you can relax and just enjoy life. It all comes down to simple time-management. Instead of just lazing at the beach, why not spend a little bit of that time also reading a couple of chapters? Or, you could plan to read about 20 minutes a day, at a time that’s most convenient for you! There’s no reason why you can’t read your books and have fun during your holidays. So just open your books and give them a read!
I started at Macca’s when I was fifteen! This meant that by the time Year 12 came around, I was pretty accustomed to balancing work, school and my other commitments.
I was lucky because I had a good relationship with the management team and my rostering manager in particular. So, I was able to have an open and honest conversation with them about work arrangements for the year and I could trust that the shifts assigned to me would be appropriate for fitting in with all of my other commitments.
It was pretty straightforward! I had a conversation with my rostering manager about the year and we decided that 10-12 hours would be a manageable amount for me. This ended up being around 2 shifts per week!
Definitely! I would usually work Thursday or Friday nights and Saturday mornings. So, this allowed me to see my friends on Saturday nights and Sundays. I would be really strict in not making any commitments (if possible) on Sundays because it was my one day per week to do whatever I felt I needed to alleviate stress and prepare for the week ahead.
There were a few things I could have done if this happened.
I’m pretty lucky with where I work so I was always able to trust they would work towards my best interest, especially throughout Year 12!
It’s funny you ask, actually! I actually heard some advice that recommended if an opportunity comes up to do something you like with your friends, to take it. The reason being, that often if you try to plan out a time to see friends in advance, they might not be free, so if you can rework your schedule, I’d recommend taking up the offer and then the studying and homework can easily be done at another time. I’m not recommending that you neglect your schoolwork, I’m recommending that you do your schoolwork once you’ve given yourself a couple of hours a week to take care of yourself — it’s so important to prevent burnout!
I found that if I saw my friends and had a few laughs with them (at an appropriate time!) it would rejuvenate me so much more effectively than taking a 30 minute break at home. Obviously I wouldn’t accept an invitation to go out for dinner with some mates if I was in the middle of completing a practice exam, but, for example if I’d been studying for four hours straight, seeing my friends would be a perfect opportunity to freshen up my mind and relieve some stress.
It was pretty simple, actually! I would look at my SAC schedule and other school commitments in my diary and then roster off the days in the lead up to SACs, etc.
I actually took 6 weeks of annual leave from work in the lead up to, and during exams. But, I didn’t study all the time, despite having a lot of free time. I obviously studied quite a bit, but I also used any spare moments to see friends and do things I liked to alleviate stress and reduce the risk of my impending burnout!
I went away for about a week and then I started working a few days after I got back.
Be honest with yourself, know what works for you and know your limits. The key factor that enabled me to have an effective work/study/life balance was knowing myself and my needs educationally — from experience, I knew how many days I needed to prepare and what I needed to do to prepare for SACs in the most effective ways!
We all know that to be successful at English we need to have decent vocabulary. Any essay can risk sounding bland and monotonous if you can only express your ideas using a limited span of words. Mixing up your essay with some interesting words will:
1. improve your expression,
2. capture your marker’s interest, and
3. impress your marker.
However, a word of caution – don’t be too determined to drown your essay with vocabulary, since you – get ready for this – risk your essay resonating utterly verbose and obstructing readability for the adjudicator (or in normal terms, you risk your essay sounding overly wordy which will therefore decrease the ease and flow when reading your essay). Remember that simple is best, but sprinkling with some vocabulary will definitely spice up your essay!
How do you go about obtaining a better vocabulary?
Although it's important to improve your vocabulary, students often get the wrong impression. You're not improving your vocabulary to sound smarter, but to optimise your ability to use the right word to express your ideas clearly. Find out more about this in the blog post - Why big words can make you look dumber.
If you are a VCE student, chances are you’ve heard phrases like “Too bad English can’t be bottom two” or “It’s just English, you can just bullshit it” all too often. These phrases, though seemingly innocuous, are like an undetectable poison to the hopeful VCE high achiever. The more you hear them, the more likely you are to believe them. And before you know it results come out, and you’re scratching your head, wondering where it all went wrong.
That’s where I can help.
There are two main misconceptions about English that you must never be tempted into believing.
It’s an easy trap to fall into; how can you possibly study for a subject if you don’t know what to study? Though be warned, subscribing to misguided and complacent ways of thinking could seriously limit your potential in English.
English can definitely be studied for. In fact, studying for English is necessary to thrive in the subject. What many students fail to recognise is that studying for VCE English is a vastly different experience to studying for any other subjects. With a subject like Chemistry, it is easy to split up a large topic into its constituent sub-topics and study them all in one sitting. Studying for English is different in every way. Instead of making concepts smaller while studying, I’ve found that it is advantageous to club smaller subtopics into larger concepts and conduct your study thematically. For example, in Language Analysis it is always more powerful to analyse persuasive techniques in relation to the writer’s larger agenda, than analysing them alone.
Again, in stark contrast to other subjects where one topic can be studied for over a set period of time (e.g. A day, week etc.). I’ve come to learn that VCE English study must become a part of your everyday life. Essential VCE English study tactics such as reading the newspaper daily and analysing its articles, can become a part of your life, as I made it a part of mine. In this way, not only does studying for English become possible, it becomes accessible and easy to do too. Weaving English study into your everyday life will also cause you to feel accomplished and satisfied. These feelings, unfortunately, are rarely felt in a hectic, fast paced VCE environment and therefore act as an incentive to maintain VCE English study throughout the year.
Failing to adapt your study patterns (or failing to study at all for that matter) leads to a negative spiral of disillusionment and disappointment, causing the once enthusiastic English student to disregard the subject completely. Since the VCE system ensures that a high English score directly correlates to a high ATAR, abandoning English can prove fatal. These are just some of the many lessons I’ve learnt as both a VCE English student and tutor.
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