Preparing for the transition from Year 11 to Year 12

Art of Smart Founder Rowan Kunz
Art of Smart Founder Rowan Kunz

The transition from Year 11 to Year 12 can be challenging. The workload increases, expectations change and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. While some students find they are well prepared for the transition, other students can find it much more difficult.

No matter how one finds the transition, looking back in hindsight, all students realise there are things they wish they did differently. After interviewing Year 12 students who have been through the transition, here is the advice they have for Year 11 students going through it right now.

Keep the momentum up from Year 11 Preliminary Exams.

After taking the yearly Preliminary exams at the end of Term 3 many students tend to slack off in the holidays and find it difficult to get back into the swing of school when starting Year 12 in Term 4. An easy way to prevent this is to keep the intensity and momentum of the Preliminary Exams up during the 2-week holidays and carry it through to Term 4. 

The first few weeks of Term 4, once students have received their exam marks back, are a great opportunity for students to consolidate the learning they’ve done in Year 11, identify their strengths and weaknesses in subjects and think about what study techniques worked for them and what didn’t in Year 11.

Start study notes from Week 1 and revise them.

The most common piece of advice former Year 12 students give is about study notes. Good study notes are an important tool for memorising HSC content, revising for assessments and preparing for exams. Although students know that study notes are important, many leave them to the last minute and try to complete them at the end of the term, or just before an exam. It is much easier, and much more useful to work on study notes as the term progresses, rather than trying to complete 10 weeks’ worth of notes in the school holidays. 

The best way to do this is to add to your study notes at the end of each week, starting in Week 1. This means students might spend 2 or 3 hours each week working on study notes for their HSC subjects, rather than 15 or 20 hours in one week right before an exam. However, just having study notes and never looking at them isn’t helpful either. The key for exam preparation is to regularly revise these notes. It is much easier to memorise and understand content that you’ve seen 10 times before the exam, rather than you’ve re-read once right before the exam. 

Keep a study schedule and organised timetable.

Many students have a very busy schedule in Year 12 with school, study, extra-curricular activities and social events and it’s easy for students and parents to get overwhelmed during the transition from Year 11 to Year 12. And easy way to stay organised and also to ensure that study is a non-negotiable part of the week is to design a study schedule. 

The best way to do this is to grab a weekly timetable and start by writing down everything you’ve got scheduled regularly throughout the week - this will include school and extra-curricular activities. Then organise time for study around regular activities and make them a non-negotiable part of the week. If you go to soccer practice every Wednesday night as a non-negotiable activity, make studying on a Thursday evening a non-negotiable activity as well.

Start major works as early as possible.

It’s likely if a student is taking a subject that involves a major work or a performance, they know that it’s coming up in their HSC year. Many students who complete major works say the same thing: start as early as possible. This doesn’t mean finishing your major work before the teacher has even brought it up in class but thinking about ideas you can take to your teacher to discuss, researching, and developing the early stages of your major work in Term 4. This will set you off on the right foot from the very beginning and prevent the panic and stress that comes from completing your major work at the last minute before you need to submit it. 

This advice goes for students in Music and Drama who have major performances, compositions, or viva voces (oral examinations) to complete in Year 12. Start thinking about these assessments early on, as this will leave plenty of time for refinement and final touches when the rest of the cohort are madly trying to finish before the due date!  

About the Author: Rowan Kunz is the Founder and CEO of Art of Smart Education, an award-winning provider of world-class tutoring and inspirational mentoring. Rowan has partnered with UTS Insearch, the pathway to UTS, for a Q&A webinar on ATAR release day (14 December 2018) and presentations at UTS Info Day (15 December 2018) to help students achieve their study goals.

This article first appeared in Exploring Teens.