Effective VCE Psychology Study Tips for Achieving a Score Above 40

Hi there,

My name is Kayla and I’m a VCE Psychology tutor at Learnmate. I graduated in 2020 with a study score above 40 in ALL 5 of my year 12 subjects, and I'm here to share with you some of my effective VCE Psychology study tips that helped me, and have since helped my students, achieve this!

Study at an Exam Standard from the Beginning of the Year

A common misconception is that practice exams should only be attempted later in the year. However, beginning your VCE Psychology exam preparation early is crucial. I have had students say to me that by doing exam questions from the get-go, you are “spoiling the practice exams”. This could not be further away from the truth. It is never too early to start doing practice exam questions.

In each of my lessons with students, we focus on breaking down and answering past exam questions to ensure we can apply and truly understand the content as we go. I strongly believe that completing exam questions (even throughout SAC preparation) is a key exam study habit, and will help you grow more accustomed to the type of questions you may anticipate on exam day to reduce the likelihood you're answering a question or type of question for the first time. Because you've had nearly a year of answering exam style questions, you will be well-prepared for both your SACs and the final exam, and both will feel less daunting and more manageable by the end of the year!

It’s all about the key words

One of my most helpful tips to students is to break down topics into key words as an essential memory consolidation technique. Students have a tendency to memorise chunks of information in paragraph form, however I believe and tell students that this can lead to heightened stress if you fail to remember a part of it on a SAC or exam.

Breaking down topics and concepts into key words has proved successful in helping students improve their ability to recall information on a SAC or exam. Key words and terms act as retrieval cues that can better help you to tap into your long term memory store and recall other pieces of information.

For example
When learning and memorising what information you must know about “Informed Consent”, rather than memorising chunks of information, you could break it down into 4 key points:

  • written form
  • before experiment
  • purpose, procedure, risks, rights, benefits
  • parent/guardian = under 18, disability, mental illness

Using these key words, I can now write a quick response that encompasses everything you need to know about informed consent, allowing you to answer any question. For instance:

“informed consent must be in written form and signed and explained to the participant prior to the experiment’s commencement. It must detail the purpose, procedure, risks, rights and benefits of the study. Informed consent must be obtained from a parent or legal guardian of the participant if the participant is under 18 years of age, or an adult that has a disability or a mental illness”

Make a Mistake Book for VCE Psychology

Keep track of your mistakes! Recording and analysing your mistakes is a powerful tool for improvement and was one I used during my VCE journey. There is nothing worse than making a mistake and completely forgetting about it. From the beginning of the year, I kept a detailed record of all the mistakes I made VCE Psychology, which greatly aided my understanding and retention of the material.

For example

Question 1: The brain part responsible for the formation of explicit memories is:

a. the cerebral cortex
b. the amygdala
c. the hippocampus
d. the frontal lobe

Let’s say I incorrectly chose “a” and the correct answer is “c”. I would print this question out into a book and with a red pen I would circle the incorrect answer (the answer I chose), and in green I would circle the correct answer. Underneath I would explain why “a” is wrong and why “c” is correct as follows:

Note: “a" is incorrect as the cerebral cortex is responsible for the storage of episodic and semantic (explicit) memories, but they do not form/consolidate them. "c" is correct as the hippocampus forms explicit memories.”

By the end of the year you will have a book of all your mistakes with explanations to the correct answer, helping you to never make that same mistake again!

Get Those 9-10 Hours of Sleep

Did you know that the average person's affective, behavioural and cognitive functioning when they are sleep deprived is the same as when they're drunk? Sleep is crucial for cognitive functioning and not getting enough sleep each night is setting you back from reaching your full potential.

Here are some ways to improve your sleep hygiene and get some better sleep, which is especially relevant to AOS 1 Unit 4:

  • Avoid naps during normal waking hours as it can delay the onset of sleep later during the night
  • Associate your bedroom only with sleep and relaxation. Avoid studying, watching TV, being on social media or any other stimulating activity in your bedroom.
  • Avoid exercising 4 – 5 hours before sleep.
    Wear an eye mask to block out all that light.
  • Avoid artificial light 2 hours before sleep, including phone and TV.
  • Try and keep your room between 17 – 19 degrees, an overly hot or cold room can hinder your ability to sleep
  • Watch the food you eat. Avoid large meals at least 2 hours before bed. If you are hungry close to bed time, snack on foods that have a quick digestion time such as yogurt and cooked vegetables

Consistency is key in VCE Psychology

The VCE Psychology curriculum is extensive, making it easy to forget content or become overwhelmed by it as the year progresses. Writing your notes as you go, ideally, on the day that you learn the content, and frequent revision are key strategies to mastering VCE Psychology content. This way, you are writing your notes when the information is most fresh in your mind and ensures you stay on-top of the day or week's learnings.

Additionally, try to revise your notes as frequently as possible. Personally, I always aimed, and recommend that students aim, to revise a topic of choice each week. To consolidate or test my knowledge and understanding, I would create mind maps with as much information as possible that I recall.

For example
I would choose a previous topic, let’s say AOS 1 The Nervous System and on an A3 sheet of paper I would draw a mind map with as much information about the nervous system that I could recall. In a different colour pen I would fill in the mind map with the information I missed by looking back at past notes, PowerPoints and resources. I would do this every week for a different topic to ensure I was continuously revising over the study design.


Ready to elevate your VCE Psychology game this year? Explore more expert tips and resources and connect with experienced tutors at Learnmate to start working towards achieving your potential. Share this guide with your peers and start your journey to academic success today!


This blog was written by Kayla C a Learnmate tutor for VCE Psychology and VCE Health & Human Development. Kayla is a highly experienced tutor who has been helping VCE students achieve their potential since graduating in 2020. Kayla is regularly sought after on Learnmate and supports students with a plethora of comprehensive resources, including notes, practice questions, tips and 7-day support. You can view her profile, including her stellar reviews and, subject to her availability, request Kayla as your tutor here.

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