As Term 3 draws to a close and we ask ourselves “how did we even get here?”, we all know what awaits us these next few weeks – a practise paper extravaganza.
The lead up to these 2-3 valuable holiday weeks in the schooling year has simultaneously built up a sense of pressure, as if we ought to spend every waking minute with our heads buried in the books. But is this truly the most effective way to spend these next 21 crucial days?
Undoubtedly, the Term 3 break can be a deciding factor towards exam room performance, but what about taking a break, catching up with friends or going out to house parties? As a wise figure in twenty-first century contemporary society once proclaimed, “por que no los dos?”, which we all naively believe to translate to “why not have both?”; the young taco-ad girl may have just helped us solve another formidable issue. So as the Term 3 holidays are just around the corner, we write to you, to try and help you plan to have both and find the balance between work, play and tacos.
We suggest, after the last day of Term 3, reward yourself for getting this far. Everyone is tired, burnt out and just over it by now so give yourself the entire weekend to recharge. By letting yourself have this break, you won’t be craving one come Monday, when you return to a normal study routine again.
Take 1-2 hours out of your relaxing Sunday just to organise. Print out every single practise exam you plan to do (being realistic for the sake of trees and their sovereignty), make a pile of practise exams per subject in chronological order and write down your goals for the break.
It is a noticeable trend that all students who achieved the highest raw scores were the students who committed to practise papers in the term 3 holidays rather than writing notes. This makes complete sense because by now, you should be trying to figure out what you “don’t know” rather than what you “do know” and the best method to access this is by exposing yourself to as many practise papers as possible.
So, incomplete set of notes? No worries, it’s time to just move on.
Before the first Monday of the holidays, create yourself a vague timetable. Black out days you may be away, every weekend and every night you have other commitments. You should have at least 15 or so blank days to be productive. This is being generous because in reality, once you find your mojo, you’ll naturally want to sneak in some study over the weekend, which will make you feel as though you’re working ahead of your own timetable.
Now, further break up your productive days into 3 sessions; morning, noon and afternoon. This gives you scope to easily complete at least 3 practise papers a day with copious amounts of spare time in between and afterwards.
All well and good up to here, but come Monday morning, set the alarm for a 9am start and it’s time to begin the VCE grind again. It’s a crucial habit to begin your first practise paper at 9am because this is when the English exam will commence and you want to get your body into the habit of being alert at this time.
When it comes to sitting the papers, instead of giving yourself 15 minutes reading time, give yourself 5! It gets you into the stress induced habit of skimming through everything quickly, so under the pressure of exam conditions you’ll do the same but then look up at the clock and realize, “wow I’ve actually got heaps of time”.
Time every single exam you do, purely to build your confidence that you can easily finish the real exam in less than the time provided. If you are seriously stuck just skip the question and mark it red. After proof-reading your practice, mark your exam and read the examiners report thoroughly because this will tell you how others went and which areas others struggled on. In red, mark every question you answered incorrectly and literally cut them out and put it into a folder or book. Record the exam paper and question number of the incorrect questions.
You should be building on this book every time you sit an exam.
So after the first 2 weeks, you’ll have this massive pile of the most difficult questions in your book without denying yourself the opportunity to go to weekend parties and events. Midway through the third week, it’s time to stop doing more practise exams and use your ultimate VCE success weapon – your own book of errors.
During the final few days, it’s crucial to review and reattempt every single question in the errors book; if you get it wrong again, keep the question in the book so you can ask if it’s still relevant to the 2016 study design or if you’re forgetting an important concept.
These are the questions you should be pasting into your notes book for the exam (if you are allowed).
By the last day of revision you should be able to sit back and think, “that was actually insane!” but really, you’ll know it’s just the beginning.