Knowing the right time to start studying for exams is something every dedicated student worries about, and unfortunately, there is no one single answer. However, there are some general guidelines that should definitely help you make the right decision!
If you’re in year 11 doing only year 11 subjects;
This is your last year before the big one, so you definitely don’t want to overwork yourself and enjoy that last bit of true relaxation! Whilst year 11 exams and year 11 subjects general are important, their lack of a contribution to your ATAR means that exam performance isn’t nearly as crucial as it is for year 12 subjects. Given this, I would recommend starting once your school finishes content for the semester, typically 1-3 weeks before the exam.
If you’re in year 11 doing one or more year 12 subjects;
This year you’re in a really advantageous position, as you only have to focus on one subject that contributes to your ATAR. This means you should be devoting as much time as possible to performing well in this subject, as long as you don’t neglect year 11 subjects. You should, therefore, be starting exam revision as soon as possible. See the last section to see how you can do this even if you haven’t finished learning all the content.
If you’re a year 12 student;
It’s a fine line in year 12, you want to start revising as preparing for exams as soon as possible, but what about all those SACs and SATs? This is where being organised is crucial. You should aim to set aside 1-5 hours a week in total for exam revision once you’ve committed to actively studying for exams, and stick to it! Beyond this, the school holidays are really really useful. You might have some holiday homework, but I can guarantee that you’ll still have plenty of time left over to focus on the all-important exams
We don’t finish learning content until September! How am I supposed to start revision now?
Fortunately for almost every Year 12 subject, there are ways of revising for the exam even before you finish learning content.
In regards to English, I would recommend writing at least one full essay each week, right from the start of term in February. This can include essays your teacher sets you, but it’s absolutely crucial you write regularly in order to develop your writing skills. In regards to VCE English, you should have covered two of the three text types by the end of term one, and so you can already start revising for these components of the exam in the Easter holidays.
For science and maths subjects, by the middle of the year (June holidays) you should have learned more than half of the content covered in the whole year. There are a ridiculous number of practise exams out there for all these subjects, and questions are typically grouped by topic, meaning you should be able to complete sections of exams during the June holidays. As such, I’d recommend beginning exam revision for these sorts of subjects during these holidays.
Language subject exams essentially cover types of assessments that you’ve done since you started secondary school; writing, reading, listening and speaking. Aim to do a bit of at least one of these each week in addition to the work set by your teacher, from the start of the year, and you’ll be more than ready for that exam come to the end of the year!
A similar approach applies to most subjects, that is, start as soon as you’ve learned enough that you can start to practise the types of assessments that are covered in the exam, whether that be essays or sample exams. As a general rule, I’d advocate for starting in the June holidays if you’re aiming really high in terms of your end of year result, otherwise, you should begin in the September holidays at the minimum if you’re looking to succeed in year 12.
Hopefully, this gives some insight into organising exam preparation, and with that said, go get a practise exam and start revising!
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