Changes to School due to the Pandemic

Changes to School due to the Pandemic

This article has been written by Liam McAlary, a Years 7 – 12, VCE Legal Studies and VCE English Language Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Liam then please check out his page here.


Hello everyone, here is my article for June. By the time you are reading this article, most of you will have returned to face to face learning, which I am sure you will be glad to be doing. This article will discuss the changes to school and English Language that the pandemic caused by Covid-19 has caused.

Changes to school generally

School will be different in an academic sense, and in how it will operate day to day. I will not discuss how each school will operate differently day to day, as that is a decision for each school and will vary based on a number of factors.

A couple of days ago (I am writing this on May 26), the Premier (Daniel Andrews) and the state education minister (James Merlino) made a number of announcements in relation to education, and VCE in particular.

For most subjects, if not all, unit 4 has been altered slightly, with some content being removed (I will discuss the ramifications of this for English Language soon, but check for your individual subjects). Other than ensuring that this content will not be examinable, the exams and exam conditions will not be changed. Consequently, the English Language exam will still be 2 hours of writing with 15 minutes of reading time, with a 15-mark short answer section, an analytical commentary worth 30 marks, and an essay worth the same.

Moreover, this year’s oral and performance exams (for those doing subjects that entail them) will occur between October 12 and November 8. For written exams, the exam period starts 12 days later than it would have otherwise, commencing on November 9, and running until December 2. The exam timetable will be released by the end of term 2. Historically, the English Language exam has been fairly late in the exam period, although it was much earlier last year. Finally, the GAT is on September 9.

Changes to English Language specifically

Some of the aforementioned changes obviously impact English Language.

The first of the significant changes relates to the way that your SACs are weighted. Usually, unit 3 and 4 SACs are each worth 25% of your final grade, with the exam making up the remaining 50%. This year, the exam is still worth half of your final grade, although your Unit 3 SACs are now worth 30% of your final mark, whereas your unit 4 SACs are now only worth 20%. This does not mean that you put less work into unit 4. Further, schools are now required to assess unit 4 content in the written mode, with either a short answer section, an analytical commentary, or an essay being the only ways in which unit 4 can be assessed. Coincidentally, they are the same skills that are on the exam. The reduced weighting probably just reflects the reduced content load in unit 4, which I will now discuss.

Area of study 2 in unit 4 has not changed. It still has 50 marks attached to it (for the purposes of determining your grade for unit 4) and none of the key knowledge or skills have been removed. Conversely, area of study 1 has changed, and is now only worth 30 marks for determining your unit 4 grade, as opposed to the usual 50 (so unit 4 is marked out of 80 instead of 100). Sadly, some of the best parts of Unit 4, Area of Study 1 have been removed from the course this year. You will not be looking at the features of Australian accents, the characteristic features of Australian English as compared to other national varieties, and you will not be looking at the role of Australian English in constructing national identity.

The new study design for 2020 can be found here: https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/vce/adjustedSD2020/2020EnglishLanguageSD.pdf.

Anyway, I hope that this article has clarified some of the changes that these unprecedented times have caused, and that you are staying safe and well.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: Coherence and Dealing with the Coronavirus, Topic and Floor Management in Conversations and Strategies for Success in English Language.

Need an In-Person or Online Tutor? Search for a Tutor Here Today!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Changes to School due to the Pandemic
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How to Motivate Yourself to Study at Home

How to Motivate Yourself to Study at Home

This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.


Studying at home is hard. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students all know the common traps of home distractions and procrastination. Highly stressful times compound these issues, making it even more difficult to motivate yourself to study productively at home.

While it is understandable to experience reduced levels of motivation at the moment, here are some ways you can gently push yourself to achieve your best.

  1. Set yourself small and big goals. It can be overwhelming when you feel you have too much to do, whether you have thirty unread emails or three essays due on the same day. Instead, set smaller goals so that you can tick off several tasks every day and keep a feeling of forward momentum. It is also important to have larger guiding goals – consider writing out your goal so you can see it every day, as explained in this article.
  2. Target the root of the problem: stress. Often, a lack of motivation comes from immobilising stress, so focus on stress management techniques. Make sure you have a positive study and social life balance. This article looks at some ways you can reduce stress. Firstly, you should identify the signs of unhealthy stress, and then try out a variety of strategies which target physical health, mental health, and general wellbeing.
  3. Take a break. Many students have complained of difficulty focusing during the period of online learning. Staring at your laptop for a two-hour class is exhausting in a different way from attending a class in person. When you’re studying at home, it is extra important to take regular breaks away from technology and schoolwork so you can regain your focus.
  4. Stick to some kind of schedule. If you can’t be at school, it can be very jarring to move from a regimented daily routine to one which has almost no parameters. Try setting yourself a new daily routine at home – it may be more flexible than usual, but it will help you get motivated and feel productive. Make sure you program in some breaks, as discussed above! A general schedule might look like this:
    • 8am: Get up and have breakfast
    • 9am – 12pm: School work and study (take breaks at least every hour)
    • 12pm: Lunch and call a friend
    • 1pm: Exercise or get moving in some way
    • 2pm – 4:30pm: Finish school work and study
    • 4:30pm – 6pm: Relax and do something fun
    • 6pm: Dinner
    • 7pm – 9pm: Study if needed or spend time doing a hobby – play music, play sport, listen to music
    • 9pm – 11pm: Wind down by reading a book, watching something, or talking to a friend
    • 11pm: Go to sleep
  5. Keep to a specific study space. It can be motivating to have a specific spot in your home where you study – when you leave that space, you can leave your work behind and have a proper break. Read more here about how to set up an effective at-home study space.
  6. Reward yourself. Have you achieved any goals recently? Remind yourself of how incredible it is to be motivating yourself from home, and consider planning out small rewards for yourself for completing your goals. This might give you that little bit of extra motivation you need.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How to Develop Problem-Solving Skills in StudentsBenefits of Using Technology in the Classroom and How to Study in Times of Stress.

 – LearnMate Tutoring.

Need an In-Person or Online Tutor? Search for a Tutor Here Today!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

How to Motivate Yourself to Study at Home
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Top Tips for Scholarship Exam Preparation

Top Tips for Scholarship Exam Preparation

This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.


Scholarship exams can be stressful unknowns if you don’t do careful preparation. However, it can be reassuring to know that there is much more you can personally control than you might realise. Let’s explore some of the ways you can manage scholarship exam preparation and perform at your absolute best!

  1. Understand what the process is. Knowing what the scholarship exam is likely to address is the key to your success. Simply aiming to improve your general skills is unlikely to translate to success in an exam environment – you need to know what skills they are assessing, and this is likely to be slightly different in each scholarship exam. Do all the research necessary to inform yourself and find out exactly how the scholarship exam will run – even talk to others who have previously completed the same exam.
  2. Practise! Practice tests are your friends. See if you can find practice tests from the institution(s) where you are applying, and if not, seek out similar institutions which have published practice exams. Start out by completing tests, and then slowly progress to testing yourself under exam conditions. Exams can be long and difficult to complete. Forcing yourself to work under time constraints ensures that you won’t be confronted by the same kind of stress in the actual exams, as you have already worked on this ability.
  3. Focus on key areas. Depending on the scholarship exam which you are aiming to sit, make sure you are targeting the specific areas which you know you could improve in. All of the areas are skills which can be developed upon – so don’t leave it up to chance! These are some of the most common areas which will come up in scholarship exams:
    • Verbal reasoning, essay writing and English skills
    • Abstract reasoning
    • Numerical reasoning and mathematics
    • Reading comprehension
    • Science
  4. Consider getting a tutor. A tutor who is specialised in scholarship exam preparation will be able to guide you, from motivation and encouragement, to practice tests, to practical advice, to letting you know the areas in which you need to improve. Look for an experienced tutor who knows the scholarship exam system well and has all the tools to help you succeed.

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How to Develop Problem-Solving Skills in StudentsBenefits of Using Technology in the Classroom and How to Study in Times of Stress.

 – LearnMate Tutoring.

Need an In-Person or Online Tutor? Search for a Tutor Here Today!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Top Tips for Scholarship Exam Preparation
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How to Set Up A Study Space at Home – For Students

How to Set Up A Study Space at Home – For Students

This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.


Whether you are in isolation or whether you are able to go school, a student’s at-home study space is extremely important. Many students prefer to complete their study at the library or other away-from-home locations, due to the distractions that can arise at home. These days, however, students might not have a lot of choice. Having a space at home which is both comfortable and conducive to good study habits is greatly helpful – what if you want to study late at night? You don’t need an entire at-home office to be productive, so how can you set up a space which meets your needs?

Here are some tips to help you set up a great study space:

  1. Separate your workspace from your sleeping space. As much as I love lying in bed to do my work and take my online classes, it can become an issue if it blurs the lines between home and work. Studies have shown that your quality of sleep may even decrease as a result of working from your bed. If there is no space in your house to set up a desk outside your room, consider setting up temporarily at a table during the day, or put a desk in your bedroom.
  2. Make sure you have a good chair. Working from home and giving in to the temptation to sit at your computer all day brings several risks: you can easily strain your back, neck, eyes and more. Even if you don’t have a fancy ergonomic office chair, make sure to use cushions to position yourself more comfortably, and consider propping up a laptop on some large books sometimes so you aren’t always hunched over.
  3. Minimise distractions. Working at home opens up a whole new world of distractions – you can easily be side-tracked by your fellow residents, your phone, laptop and more. Let others in your household know when you plan to study so that they know not to interrupt you. Try leaving your phone away from your study space if you don’t need it – often, having it within arm’s reach is simply too tempting. If you know you need to cut down on your time spent on the Internet, consider disabling social media or turning off your Wi-Fi for brief to lengthy periods of time.
  4. Keep your study space clean and neat. A simple study space ensures that you can get your best work done. For most people, a neat, clean environment is conducive to focus and good study habits. This is not to mention the fact that a messy, crowded desk space will not allow you much room to actually complete your work! Don’t cause yourself unnecessary stress by letting your space get messy.
  5. Set up your workspace near natural light. Think about putting your desk in front of a window. Studies have actually demonstrated that natural light has a wide range of benefits, including improving productivity. This is not to mention the fact that it feels great to sit in bright spaces, especially now when many people are confined inside.

How have you set up your workspace?

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How to Develop Problem-Solving Skills in StudentsBenefits of Using Technology in the Classroom and How to Study in Times of Stress.

 – LearnMate Tutoring.

Need an In-Person or Online Tutor? Search for a Tutor Here Today!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

How to Set Up A Study Space at Home – For Students
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Strategies to Build Self-Confidence in Students

Strategies to Build Self-Confidence in Students

This article has been written by Lydia McClelland, a VCE French, Music Theory, Literature & VCE English Tutor at Learnmate. If you’re interested in private tutoring from Lydia then please check out her page here.


Teachers and tutors all know or have known a student who suffers as a result of a lack of self-confidence.

As a tutor, I have often had students tell me the reason that they sought out tutoring is simply because they are ‘bad’ at the subject in question. But often, when I see their first piece of work, I realise that for the student, being ‘bad’ at the subject is either false modesty or a genuine lack of confidence. There are many highly capable students who often struggle severely under pressure because of their lack of confidence in their own ability. Even if a student claims to be ‘bad’ at a subject out of modesty, they might begin to believe the narrative they tell, which can be highly damaging in the long-term.

Why should you build self-esteem and self-confidence in students?

Students with low self-esteem and low self-confidence struggle under pressure. Of course, this is not all the responsibility of the instructor, but teachers and tutors can have an important role in helping students develop in this area. Students who are confident in themselves are not only well-placed to do better academically, but it is also beneficial to their mental health to have high self-esteem and self-confidence. Studies have shown that positive encouragement works better than criticism in improving not only students’ emotional well-being, but also their academic performance.

Helping students to develop self-esteem and self-confidence will often unlock their greater potential – you show them that you believe in them, which, in the best-case scenario, will help them to believe in themselves. Why wouldn’t you want this for your students?

Strategies for enhancing self-esteem and self-confidence in the classroom

The classroom environment can be intimidating for many students. Whether you are looking after primary school or secondary school students, it is important to remember the issue of self-confidence and resultant self-esteem. Often, students feel that they don’t measure up to other students. So, how can these students be encouraged and helped to develop in a scary-seeming classroom environment?

  • Focus on the positives: students who have low self-confidence will already focus on the negative aspects of what they are doing, so shine a light on the positive aspects of their work. There is no need to correct every single mistake such students make.
  • Don’t compare your students to each other: students are necessarily going to be at different levels. In comparing them, you create unfair expectations for some students.
  • Create realistic expectations with students. Building upon the point above, make sure you don’t have students aiming for goals which are unrealistic, as this can only exacerbate worsening self-confidence. By encouraging students to develop their own goals, you can increase a student’s sense of responsibility, and thus help them to feel a sense of autonomy over their own learning.
  • Take a strength-based approach. By building upon students’ strengths, you demonstrate to them that you recognise the areas in which they excel, and thus encourage them in their overall learning.

What are your strategies for helping students to realise their potential?

If you loved this article, you will LOVE all of our other articles, such as: How to Develop Problem-Solving Skills in StudentsBenefits of Using Technology in the Classroom and How to Study in Times of Stress.

 – LearnMate Tutoring.

Need an In-Person or Online Tutor? Search for a Tutor Here Today!


LearnMate is Australia’s leading tutoring agency offering private lessons in all primary & high school subjects including English, maths, science, humanities, foreign languages, and so much more. Our mission is simple: to provide professional, engaging and enthusiastic tutors to students, while also ensuring the student feels empowered and confident during their assessments! Ultimately, our goal is to empower students all over Australia to achieve amazing results and make their dreams come true!

LearnMate provides you with tailored, one-on-one lessons for tutoring in a variety of suburbs in MelbourneSydneyGeelongBrisbaneHobartCanberraPerth & Adelaide! With hundreds of tutors on the LearnMate platform, you’re bound to find someone local for any primary or high school year level! You can choose to have lessons in-person or online – whatever is easiest for you!

Strategies to Build Self-Confidence in Students
read more