Having just completed VCE myself with a ATAR that I never thought was possible, I took a bit of time to think about what made me so successful and how I managed to really enjoy my learning, enjoy going to school everyday, whilst also managing to have some sort of positive and fun lifestyle outside of school. I debated, held a leadership position, played competitive sport year round and also went out with friends on weekends during the year.
More than anything, the most important thing I found was to not lose who you are, what defines you, what makes you stand out from everyone else outside the classroom. Whether it is music, sport, debating or partying it is ESSENTIAL to maintain a healthy balance between these aspects of your life and school. It is these outlets that create and instil a positive energy and framework for you to approach your studies with enthusiasm and rigour. I witness far too often students who are physically and emotionally weak because they do not embrace life rather the late nights curled up over a desk immediately create a perpetual sense of negativity and emotional turmoil. It is this mindset that causes students to loathe Year 12, to succumb to the pressure of exams and SACs, to fail to understand what the teacher is explaining as they dream about doing what they have given up for the year.
By no means am I condoning not studying hard and occasionally forgoing parties or other social commitments if you have an important SAC that week or are behind on your coursework; however it is vital that students are happy during their final year of schooling. It should be a time of joy, memories and laughter - you shouldn’t want it to be anything else, no more, no less. With this attitude, you will achieve your personal best. Because it is the interaction with friends, the smiles, the adulation you receive by your team-mates after kicking a goal or taking a wicket that will truly define your memories of high school and inspire you to be the best you possibly can be (pardon the clichés).
Similarly, eating healthy, sleep (I always tried to go to bed by 11 at the latest) and exercise are all imperative to peak physical and emotional performance. Honestly, you are going to get nothing out of studying after 11pm. You are so tired after a long day that your brain will absorb very little. VCE is about consistency throughout the whole year, about maintaining high levels of higher order thinking at the right time not all the time. So relax, enjoy Year 12 for what it is…a journey. Make your lifelong friends, do what you love most and you will find yourself more motivated than ever before to study hard and study effectively to achieve your best.
Most importantly, be yourself. Find or make time to fit in your study around what you enjoy, not the other way around. It is not about giving up things, giving up your life, giving up on your dreams; VCE is about embracing a challenge, embracing new ideas, new friends and new avenues. With this in mind, try to approach your preliminary work with a mindset that it is not burden, rather it is merely something that will allow you to prosper and develop as a person, that will allow you to embark on a journey that will hopefully give you a balanced and positive life.
You can take this with a grain of salt but, hey, it worked for me and gave me an added thirst for learning and knowledge!
Good Luck guys!