Year 12 is the culmination of all your schooling thus far. There’s a lot of pressure from parents, teachers and friends to get a strong ATAR. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to stay healthy, study effectively and crush it. Let’s crack on.
Make study plans
You’ll have deadlines flying at you thick and fast as soon as you start. The best way to deal with competing priorities without getting overwhelmed is by taking them one at a time. Get a calendar, diary, planner or simply a sheet of paper and note down your upcoming assessments, complete with details like the criteria you’ll be graded on and task specifications. Use online resources to set up with weekly alerts before deadlines, like Google Calendar. Once you have recorded everything you need to do, it’ll be much easier to visualise what needs to be done first.
For bonus points, you could estimate how long it’ll take you to complete each task. If you’ve got no idea, ask your teachers; they’ve likely handed out these assignments fifty times already and have a good idea. Be careful though; studies show humans are notoriously bad at estimating how long things take. This is known as the ‘planning fallacy’, so if you want to be extra safe, take your original time estimates… and double them! This habit will help you out all through year 12. More often than not, you’ll thank yourself for the extra time.
Planning is especially important for exam periods. Once you know your exam timetable and what material will be covered, build a realistic study timetable. You should weigh your time in favour of subjects or topics you’re weaker at, but be careful not to go over the time you budget. Otherwise you’re eating into study time for other things.
Learn how to learn
One thing many students struggle to master is the art of learning effectively. People learn and absorb information in different ways, so understanding what works for you is really important. Here are some tips to make all that knowledge stick:
Supplement your learning. If your teachers and textbooks aren’t enough for you to understand a concept, go online and find someone explaining it differently. Putting in the extra effort to thoroughly understand the key concepts for all your subjects early in the year will be a great benefit to you later on.
Practise. You’ve been told this since you were little, but it’s still true today. If you’re in a mind-bending subject like Physics or Chemistry, just listening to someone talk won’t help you retain knowledge in your long-term memory. Answering practice questions (lots of them!) continuously throughout the year will help cement your understanding. If your textbook’s out of problems, don’t be afraid to scout for more online or ask your teacher to give you extras.
Take active breaks. It can be tempting to just power through when the pressure’s on, but for some people it’ll do more harm than good. Making time to get away from your desk and doing something entirely different, like a short walk or just standing outside, can help you stay focused when you return. Some advocate for a 5-minute break every 25 minutes, while others a 17-minute break every 52 minutes. The scientific jury is out as to what’s correct, so experiment to see what’s right for you!
If you’re not feeling well, you’ll have a hard time performing. Here are a few essentials you’ll have heard a million times before, but we reckon it can’t hurt to repeat them.
Sleep. Almost everyone needs between eight to ten hours each night to stay sharp, otherwise you’ll end up looking for classes to nap in, which puts you behind, causing you to make up lost time at home, thus losing sleep, causing you to nap more in class and, well… you get it! This is also tied into planning. If you plan your after-school time well, you won’t have to worry about staying up all night to get things done.
Eat well. Especially in the morning. A bottle of soft drink won’t cut it! Toss some berries into your weetbix. Have some cashews with your yoghurt. You get the picture.
Exercise. Year 12 is an easy time to become sedentary. Making a conscious effort to go for a run, swim, or even just a 15-minute walk can make a world of difference. It’ll clear your head and your body will thank you.
Make time for friends
Everyone makes sacrifices during year 12. It’s a necessary part of the job. All the same, budget a bit of time for things you enjoy. Not just for necessities like five-minute study breaks or a quick run. Stay involved with your extracurricular activities (within reason) and do things with your friends. This is your last year of high school after all.
You’re free to stay in contact with your classmates, but high school is something pretty unique. For years you’ve seen these people daily. After year 12, you’ll all be going your separate ways and you may not speak to some of them again. Say a few kind words to classmates during band practice. Compliment someone on your footy team. Check in on your mates and listen to how they’re doing. Who knows? You might just help them crush year 12 too.