Kaitlyn Loft, Country to Canberra teen blogger.
Year 12 can be characterized by stress, by late nights and occasional breakdowns, a total accumulation of things gone wrong that can leave you crying over nothing at all in the middle of the night (never mind that test you have tomorrow morning that you haven’t studied for, or the accrued sleep debt that’s in desperate need of managing). Sure, year 12 is the culmination of over a decade of schooling, but it is important to keep perspective and realise it’s also really not that big of a deal.
If I were to describe my experience of year 12, it would go a little something like that. The year passes quickly, and you’ll find exam time dawning upon you just a few days after your first class. The prospect of all of this can be daunting, and can seem unmanageable, but having come out of the other end, I can assure you that it is completely survivable.
I believe in taking a three step approach to handling year 12; accepting, identifying, and managing.
There is no point stressing out over deadlines and bedtimes because both are bound to broken. Accept the inevitability of staying up past nine on a school night working on your folio, or the fact that you are likely to have a week crammed full of tests and due dates for assignments. A lot of the time, these will be nonnegotiable and teachers will be inflexible when it comes to deadlines (they seem to have a habit of forgetting that students study for, and may prioritize, subjects other than theirs).
Rather than spending the week before stressing about the impending deadlines, it’s far easier to start-off the year knowing that they’ll be there, trying to manage them, and understanding that redemptions are always there to provide a fall-back option. No matter what, you’ll make it through.
After accepting that things will get tough at times, the next important step is to identify your blind spots. Essentially, identify the areas of study that will require your upmost attention and put in extra mile effort to make your weaknesses a strength. Teachers can be particularly helpful with this; however, you (like me) might feel a bit swamped by the end of the year.
When October rolled around and it was time to start prepping for exams, I was left with mountains of practice activities, quizzes, exams, revision lectures and resources to mull over. It might seem like a blessing when your teachers provide you with all of this revision material, until you’re sitting at home and wondering where to start. Why? Because you have five subjects, a minimum of five practice exams for each, and have spent the first week of the holidays doing absolutely nothing. The easiest step to identifying where to begin is, I have found, to do just that – begin. Once you push past the fear (and the paralysing procrastination), you’re one step closer to success.
My lesson: take at least one practice exam for each subject (the lucky ones will have one organised by the school under exam conditions) and use the results and feedback from that to learn which areas in a particular subject are the most challenging. Studying past exams and examiners reports also help identify problem areas among students, which are, coincidentally, also the areas of study likely to crop up on your exam at the end of the year.
Now for the hardest step – managing. When I talk about ‘managing’, I refer to both managing stress and managing workload. The two almost seem to come hand-in-hand. For those of you suffering from mental illness, on top of managing a year 12 workload, social life, part-time work and further study applications, you’ve got it rough. I would suggest implementing some serious stress and anxiety management strategies; admittedly, easier said than done.
There are tons of resources you can search up, track down, or get given to you to help with the workload. Having tried the I’ll-do-it-soon and just-wing-it approach, I would absolutely advocate not doing that. Something as simple as grouping your subjects, listing the revision material you have access to, and then allocating a minimum amount of hours needed to be spent studying that subject (per day or per week), can relieve an incredible amount of stress.
I can’t make any promises; only speak from my experience as a student who tried very hard to get consistently good grades. This might be a formula that works for you, or it might not. There are many, many different ways to handle (or not handle) year 12. Aside from what I have said already, and perhaps a hopeful ‘good luck’, there are three final pieces of advice I can offer:
- Crying is okay.
- The end of the world isn’t due for a couple of hundred years – failing that assessment is not the end of everything.
- Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Work hard, focus and have no regrets.