In VCE exams, the difference between an average mark and an amazing mark can be miniscule. Even if you know everything there is to know about a subject, this doesn’t mean that you can answer questions the way examiners want, and it doesn’t mean you can manage your time in the exam.
- Always have a plan of attack before you open the exam booklet. You need to know how you’re going to split up your time before you go into the exam, although this should be flexible to some extent. From attempting past exams, you should plan approximately how much time to devote to each section of each exam, and once you reach this time limit, move on. Even if you have not completed that section, it is incredibly important not to waste time on the hardest parts, but instead capitalise on all the easy marks you can get. Then, if you have extra time at the end, you can go back and tackle those very tricky sections.
- Read official VCAA examiners’ reports. I’m always surprised when I meet with students close to final exams and they still haven’t read the examiner’s reports for the subject we’re looking at! These documents are filled with invaluable advice, and often carry examples of exemplary student responses. I have also encountered several instances of students’ teachers giving advice contrary to the examiner’s report – so make sure you read at least the most recent report thoroughly. Check them out here.
- Don’t do it alone. You’re far more likely to repeatedly make mistakes and not notice if you’re doing everything alone. For this reason, get friends, teachers, past students or tutors to mark your practice exams, and try studying with other people (as long as they don’t become a distraction). VCE is far more manageable and enjoyable in the company of others – remember, you don’t have to be alone!
Being exam-smart is different from general intelligence. It can give you an edge over even the most naturally-gifted people you’re competing against, and is a secret of so many high-achieving students.
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