Reading Time: 20 minutes
Year 12 finishers conclude yet again that the secret to success in their final schooling year is a balanced lifestyle
As they finished what was called ‘The Year of Light’, students from the Year 12 Class of 2015 saw not only the light at the end of the tunnel as they finished school, but also the spark of a new light that brings them into an exciting new stage in their lives.
We send our hearty congratulations to all school leavers from 2015, and wish them well for university.
Here, students from Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth look back at their last year of school.
Tell us how you tackled Year 12. Was it stressful?
Jesby: The last year of school was definitely stressful because there were a lot of assessments that had to be completed in a short time span. However, this stressful period really makes you understand your strengths, weaknesses and what you are truly capable of. It also helps you to identify stress relieving methods which I believe will be vital during adulthood. Being a perfectionist, my strategy was to complete one assessment at a time, to ensure that they were done to the best of my ability. I also did continuous revision of all subjects which aided during exam preparation. Having a good support network also helped, as my friends and I frequently conducted group study sessions to help with understanding complex topics. Although these sessions included more discussion on Indian celebrity gossips and TV shows than on the chemical bonding between molecules, it was good to take occasional breaks from learning too. I have a brother who was in Year 11 at the same time and he undertook similar subjects to me, so tutoring him also enabled me to understand better.
ATAR: 98.95( ex. bonus points)
School: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Adelaide
Subjects: Chemistry, English Studies, Mathematical Methods, Nutrition and Research Project.
Intended Uni Course: Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practise (Honours) and Bachelor of Science combined degree
Nithi: With all honesty, 2015 was the most challenging year for me as I struggle to handle stress. I won’t sugar coat my words, Year 12 is hard and definitely stressful, but trust me it will be the shortest year of your lifetime. The time frame from which you start and finish will feel like just a month. In order to enhance my skills I received tutoring for Chemistry and Maths. That was beneficial as it allowed me to regain my confidence in those subjects. Moreover, tutoring enforced me to study even when I lacked the motivation. It also aided in reducing my stress.
Shrishti: Most days I woke up late and rushed to school, getting inside the school gate in the nick of time! It wasn’t because I stayed up late doing work, instead it was due to the lack of motivation to face the day ahead of me. Every moment there was a nagging fear that I hadn’t done enough, put enough effort and practised enough or simply wasted time. The first few weeks were nerve-wracking because of the fear of the unknown; however as time went on we all fell into a pattern.
When we got our first lot of assignments, I was overwhelmed by the time restrictions and almost gave up immediately! However, a little bit of planning, chatting to teachers and friends guided me in my quest to conquer my work. I kept reminding myself that the year was not about how dumb I am; instead it was about how hard I was prepared to work.
Whilst studying with friends did miracles at times, it was also a mode of relaxation. Some days I was more relieved and comfortable at school because everyone simply understood each other, teachers and students alike. No words needed to be exchanged for us to communicate our feelings. Consequently, everyone was supportive of each other providing a tranquil environment to study in and encouragement.
Everyone helped each other in the class regardless of any differences and it was because of this attitude we all managed to do well in. We did our best to never abandon anyone and worked towards our aims together.
School: Prescott College, Adelaide
Subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematical Studies, English Communications, Religious Studies, Research Project
Intended Uni Course: Awaiting university offers.
Anjali: My last year of schooling was stressful to say the least. Through pacing myself and giving myself constant reality checks, I was able to survive what has most definitely been the most difficult yet memorable year of my life. I did not receive any personal tutoring although I did participate in the Adelaide Tuition Centre’s holiday sessions which proved to be very useful. I also engaged in small study groups with my school friends throughout the year which I highly recommend for future students to do. These groups can not only be fun, but can be highly valuable when doing assignments and studying for tests.
Sahil: Being persistent in studies was the most important thing in the last year of school. Every single day of Year 12 counts towards ATAR, so I tried to do the same amount of study every day. Getting into this routine proved to be very helpful and it also assisted in reducing the stress. For assessment items, such as tests, I would often start studying a few days prior instead of the night before. Doing questions from a variety of resources was particularly helpful, instead of studying off one book (which was already used in class). I tried to study using additional books such as study guides, exam questions and most importantly booklets from my tutor. Group tutoring was really useful because it allowed me to ask questions about more complex questions or things I may have missed at school. Group discussions (arguments about who is correct) were helpful because they reinforced my knowledge and also provided insight from a different perspective as other students from different schools were taught the same topic in a different way. Getting as much help as possible and clearing any doubts was my main strategy to tackling WACE.
Anand: I felt bombarded with lots of assessments and tests from all of my subjects. The early tests (period zeros), for which we had to wake up early, and the weekly assessments, did make this year a stressful one. However, by practising before the tests and assessments, the stress I felt was definitely less than the stress of those who didn’t prepare. I realised that the best way to tackle this year was to focus on what was ahead of me and keep remembering the big picture, ie, the end-of-year exams. Although I prepared for tests, I didn’t merely regurgitate what I had learnt, since I still needed the knowledge for later use. I do think that tutoring was a major aide to this final year, as it helped guide me to the correct path.
Deepy: I went into my last year of school with an open mind. I wanted to make it memorable by taking part in as many activities as I could. Overall, I would say this was worth it as my last year was amazing. It was stressful at times, especially towards the end, but I had a fantastic support network and good coping mechanisms to help me through the stressful times.
My strategy involved remaining focussed on what grade I wanted and trying my best to achieve this. I didn’t get tutoring because I found that studying with my friends was helpful, as I surrounded myself around people who had similar aspirations.
What subjects did you enjoy studying the most?
Jesby: I really enjoyed Chemistry and Nutrition because although they were the hardest, I liked the challenge. As I spent the most time and effort on these subjects, I naturally grew to like them more than the others. The subject teachers occasionally brought food into then lessons, so that may have also been a factor.
Nithi: I absolutely enjoyed studying Biology. It was always my favourite subject but I came to enjoy it further in Year 12. The fascination in learning something new every lesson added to the experience and I delighted in acquiring knowledge about the minute nuances of the human body. Obviously, my Biology teacher could even make a lesson about a leaf as intriguing and hilarious as she possibly could. The teachers also play an essential role in your performance and the mindset you approach the subjects with. I was so privileged to have wonderful teachers and I am very much thankful to all of them for supporting me throughout the year.
Shrishti: Biology and Chemistry were by far the most interesting subjects because they were both challenging. The fact that we could easily apply the knowledge we gained in the classroom into our everyday life was especially motivational.
Anjali: I thoroughly enjoyed studying Accounting as I was planning on studying Commerce at university. Maths Studies was enjoyable too.
Sahil: I enjoyed Chemistry the most because I have always had the fascination about the chemical world around us; also my curiosity for this subject made it easier for me to study.
Maths Specialist was also quite enjoyable as it was the most challenging subject for me (and almost everyone I guess). It required much more studying time than other subjects because the questions required thinking at a much higher level than other subjects. Another aspect that made this more difficult was the incorporation of ALL maths skills acquired during high school and primary schools. This challenge in Specialist is what made it more enjoyable to study.
Anand: I enjoyed studying Mathematics the most, mainly because my teacher was full of mathematic jokes and puns (e.g, “Don’t drink and derive”). The teacher was also very competent and knowledgeable and had taught me for two years of my high school life. It was also one of my highest scoring subjects, which was due to my teacher’s constant support and cheerful attitude.
Deepy: I enjoyed Chemistry the most, mainly because it was the most fascinating out of all my subjects, and also because the experiments were really fun and the most explosive!
How did you feel at the end of your first assessment of the year? And after the end of your final exam?
Jesby: After my first assessment, I thought Year 12 would be a breeze; a piece of cake. However, after my final exams, I realised I had never been so wrong in my life. Year 12 can be described as a cliché roller coaster ride with several ups and downs. At the beginning, I experienced more downs than ups, however I think this encouraged me to persevere and work harder.
Nithi: I really do not remember completing my first assessment. As I entered the first week I was bombarded with assignments for all my subjects. Furthermore, my English Studies teacher was very pre-prepared and gave us three assignments to finish in the December holidays prior to the beginning of Year 12. Yes I know, don’t be surprised, that’s Year 12! So completing the first assessment was not a significant memory for me. However, the feeling of contentment after you finish your final exam is just incomprehensible. Only a Year 12 student will understand completely. It’s probably one of the happiest moments of my life, as I can still remember all of us tearing up in happiness after our last exam.
Shrishti: At the end of my first assessment I was somewhat relieved, however I was consistently reminded by my subconscious mind that this was only the beginning. On the contrary, at the end of my exam I was a little bit disappointed because it signalled a red light. This red light finally changed to yellow when the ATAR was released, now it awaits for the university offers to commence before going green.
Anjali: After my first assessment, I learnt that I had only completed the first leg of what turned out to be a marathon.
Sahil: The first assessment of Year 12 was dreadful because it’s the first piece of work that would impact my ATAR. I had studied triple the amount for this, compared to a Year 11 assessment. However, receiving the results was shocking because they ended up same as my Year 11 average. This truly showed how hard Year 12 really was and it made me more determined to study harder (and more efficiently) for the next assessment. By the end of my final exam I was extremely relieved because I knew I had done the best I possible could have. However, there’s always that element of anxiety and doubt.
School: Melville Senior High School, Perth
Subjects: Chemistry, Maths, Maths Specialist, Physics and English.
Intended Uni Course: Medicine
Anand: I felt quite motivated after my first assessment, as I had done quite well and was ready to battle through the rest of the assessments that was yet to come. After the final exam, I didn’t really have any regrets since I had given it my all, and had felt content with the exam, no matter the result.
Deepy: At the end of my first assessment, I felt relieved – mainly because I thought that I never would make it to the other side! After realising that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, I felt more prepared for what was about to come that year. However, finishing my last exam was the best feeling ever. Imagine the most happiest and carefree moment of your life and intensify the moment by 1000 – that was me!
How did you celebrate the end of your exams?
Jesby: During Year 12, I sacrificed watching Korean dramas as they were quite distracting, so being a food lover, I celebrated my end of exams with a bowl of spicy Korean rice cakes!
Nithi: We celebrated the end of our exams through roaming around in the Adelaide city and practically ensuring that the whole of Adelaide city was aware that ‘Yes, we are finally done with our last year of schooling’.
Shrishti: Ironically, my celebration began by cleaning my carpet then calming the raging battle in my stomach with a homemade barfi. That day I was filled with mixed emotions of happiness, relief, disappointment and nostalgia. Since then I have been allowing myself to live out the childhood I had put on hold during Year 12.
Anjali: Apart from finally getting some sleep, I travelled to Darwin with a small group of friends, where we participated in local activities. We then travelled to Bathurst Island, an island located just above Darwin, where we involved ourselves in the local Aboriginal community and assisted in their local school through engaging with the children. This proved to be a very rewarding experience and an excellent way to finish the stressful year.
Sahil: I celebrated by going out and catching up with friends, seeing all the movies I missed out during the year and catching up on all the sleep I missed out on!
Anand: I mainly rested, but for the rest of the time I had to worry about upcoming interviews that I was going to have to take for the next few months. I put the memories of the WACE exams behind me and moved forward with preparing for the interviews. I also spent time with my friends, going out to the movies and playing games.
Deepy: I celebrated the end of my exams with my friends. We went on a holiday to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for one week and I had the best time of my life! It was really nice to just sit by the beach, relax and not have to think about anything – especially study related – except what we were going to eat!
Social media played a big part of the lives of many Year 12 students. Did you find Facebook discussion groups helpful?
Jesby: My peers and I had created groups on Whatsapp and Facebook in order to ask each other any pestering questions, share newly found knowledge and to offer advice and words of encouragement during the night before tests and exams. Facebook pages such as SACE Memes were a must during times of procrastination and provided good humour during the stressful periods.
Nithi: I get distracted very easily so I decided to avoid all sources of social media throughout the whole year.
Shrishti: The SACE website had a lot of helpful material that was easy to access. Some things I did use as guidelines and others were not as useful. As for discussion groups I did not quite know they existed till now. I must say that social media did in fact assist me a lot because I could easily contact my friends and teachers for help. However, if you let it control you then it does compromise your education, like it did with me at times!
Sahil: Personally I found Facebook study groups rarely useful as it was often difficult to keep the discussion ‘on topic’. However, with external tutoring, I had all that help that I needed; so for me a Facebook group was redundant. Nevertheless, many friends found it helpful to have a study group, it makes sense that some help is better than no help.
Anand: I did find using social media quite useful, since it was an easy way to communicate with my friends and ask questions about certain problems. If it were not for the use of social media, I would have had many gaps in my knowledge of certain subjects. It also gave me a chance to help others with problems, which had in fact helped me understand the problem better.
Deepy: Yes, I used quite a bit of social media to help me get through this year. Although some people viewed social networking sites such as Facebook as a distraction, I used it to my advantage. It was a great platform to exchange notes, ideas and thoughts over everything and anything school related.
Did you have a goal in mind from the beginning?
Jesby: My goal this year was to achieve an ATAR (exclusive of bonus points) that would guarantee me an entry into my preferred combined degree of Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practise (Honours) with Bachelor of Science.
Nithi: I had begun my year with the goal to achieve an ATAR of 95 and I am very content to have fulfilled that goal. My second goal was to complete my assessment tasks well before the due date and keep in pace with my tasks. Unfortunately, I failed to abide by that, I had become so used to the routine of completing all my tasks at the last minute that I couldn’t alter it. Nevertheless, to those stepping into Year 12, please do not make that mistake; that is probably the one thing you want to avoid as it will boost your stress levels.
School: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Adelaide
Subjects: English Studies, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematical Methods, Research Project
Intended Uni Course: Double degree in Optometry, Bachelor of Medical Science (Vision Science)/Master of Optometry
Shrishti: Interestingly, before the year began I had an aim, but as it progressed everything became a blur and I lost sight of my goal. During stressful times, which was all year round, I contemplated whether I would be able to pass, considering I was slacking off.
Anjali: The main goal I strived towards throughout the whole year was ensuring that I did not disappoint myself when I received my results. There was never a particular ATAR I was chasing towards as I knew by the end of year, I would receive what I truly deserve.
Sahil: My goal was to achieve an ATAR of at least 99.
Anand: The only goal I had was to focus on my studies and to present my best efforts through tests and exams. The results would show for themselves!
Deepy: My main goal was to do the best I could possibly do but not allow myself to miss out on the little things, like the parties, dances and get-togethers. So basically I stuck by the motto “No regrets” in essentially all aspects of my life.
What moments from the past year do you remember most?
Jesby: I remember receiving back my first assessment pieces for Mathematical Methods and Chemistry, in which I had scored much lower than I had expected. Looking back, I am glad that I didn’t let those grades tamper with my motivation as they were a turning point from which I decided to work harder and in a more consistent manner.
I also remember multitasking during preparations for our School Carnival, by trying to revise for a Chemistry test whilst blowing up balloons!
Nithi: The past year has gone past so rapidly it’s just unbelievable. I can only remember the fun filled moments I spent with my friends at the swimming, athletics carnivals, international MasterChef, our very inspirational conversations with our most favourite Year 10 students and the interschool activities.
Shrishti: Each year the Year 12s go to Sydney for a one week excursion and my parents had initially said no since we had recently been to India for a long vacation. You can imagine why they would have said no, considering how cheap family trips to India are. Well, on the last day to pay for the trip my homeroom teacher told me that my sister had paid for my trip. I was absolutely astounded by the news and just stared at her for a whole minute! As it turned out, that trip was definitely worth every cent because of all the remarkable experiences that have been etched into my mind.
Anjali: The activities the school organised to ensure the best possible year for us were incredibly memorable. These included school formal, athletics and aquatics carnival, Year 12 retreat and especially graduation.
School: Nazareth Catholic College, Adelaide
Subjects: Mathematical Studies, English Communications, Chemistry, Accounting, Research Project and Religion Studies.
Intended Uni Course: Double degree in Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting).
Sahil: The Year 12 ball was very memorable, everyone was dressed up and looked very nice (especially having seen them in school uniform every day).
Moments such as the heated class discussions in Physics will be remembered the most, where we argued about silly, hypothetical things. In Chemistry we would triple the quantities of chemicals to make the reaction “more interesting” (and this would leave our teacher surprised at our extraordinary results!)
Anand: The first memory that comes to mind is graduation day, where we walked up onto the stage and took our certificates proudly. Another moment (or moments) were the nights where I studied, prepared or did assessments, so that I could be ready for the next day.
Deepy: The most memorable experiences are definitely the ones I probably won’t have again, like formals, sports days and camp. But by far the most memorable would have to be graduation, probably because, well, I graduated!
What other activities did you keep up during the year?
Jesby: In Year 12, I was also College Vice-Captain and a peer tutor for students in Years 8, 9 and 10. Although this made me quite busy, it helped me work well under pressure and to manage my time efficiently. Interacting with students from other year levels through my role as peer tutor and College Vice-Captain, I was also able to form lasting friendships which I will treasure.
Nithi: I am a person who struggles to manage too many responsibilities at once, so I decided to tone down my activities in Year 12. Before Year 12 I was involved in many activities but for my last year I thought it would be suitable to reduce the number of co-curricular activities I participated in. However, I tried to sustain several such as Indian classical dance, providing peer tutoring at school, Walk for Love, tour guiding, class captain responsibilities and International Master Chef.
Shrishti: Although I did not dance with my dance group, I choreographed a dance with my sister and performed it during Janmastami at the ISKCON Temple, Adelaide. Other activities involved watching cartoons and animes; I mean, who can handle reality for 24 hours, 7 days a week! We all need a break sooner or later.
Anjali: I participated in Girls’ Badminton through the school and also in a variety of social justice activities in preparation for the Bathurst Island trip.
Sahil: I tried my best to keep up hobbies such as photography, and attempted to keep fit throughout the year.
Anand: Throughout the year I made sure to exercise, which allowed me to decrease any stresses I felt, especially since this was the most important of high school.
School: Rossmoyne Senior High School, Perth
Subjects: Mathematics 3CD, Mathematics 3CD specialist, Physics 3AB, Chemistry 3AB and English 3AB.
Intended Uni Course: Medicine
Deepy: I continued participating in sports outside of school. I played soccer for two clubs – my local community club and for the Brisbane Punjabi community club. I also went to the gym quite regularly.
Within school, I participated in many leadership opportunities such as being a house captain. I also maintained my interest in fundraising and volunteering for a few organisations throughout the year.
What activities or events do you regret missing out on last year, if any?
Jesby: I regret not participating in the college musical production Mulan Junior as I thought it would be time consuming and would heighten the stress levels. Looking back, I should’ve participated and just managed my time more efficiently as it would’ve been a great experience.
Nithi: Not many regrets because I would not have been able to fulfill my responsibility even if I was to have committed to it. But I wished to have been a part of the leadership team. However, I’m thankful that I wasn’t, due to the commitment it required.
Shrishti: For what it is worth, I do not think I regret missing out on much. Yes, I do regret going to some events that ended up being time wasters. Although they may have been useless they did manage to keep me sane.
Anjali: I did miss out on a range of activities and events, but I don’t regret missing them as none of the amazing things that happened last year might have been possible if it weren’t for those minor sacrifices.
Sahil: I regret not going out with friends more often, to the beach, kayaking and watching the latest movies.
Anand: I missed out on the dinner dances that the school provided, which I could not attend, since there tended to be period zeros the day after, or assessments that I had to worry about.
Deepy: As I stuck to my motto in Year 12 (“No regrets”) I would say I wouldn’t regret anything, except for not remembering to relax sometimes – especially on holidays!
What would you have done differently, overall?
Jesby: I would’ve managed my time more efficiently during exam week preparation, especially when doing past exam papers… I ended up spending 15-18 hours continuously doing timed 3-hour exams; only to be left with a headache.
Nithi: A key factor which I would have changed would be my time management skills as Year 12 is all about the pile up of assignments in every subject. The time allowance to even ponder upon how to begin a task is not available.
Shrishti: I reckon keeping my eye firmly set on my goal could have helped me improve the outcome.
Anjali: I wish I had taken more time to truly appreciate my teachers as the past year would have been absolutely hopeless if not for their endless support and dedication.
Sahil: I should have had a more ‘planned’ approach towards assessments. This would have prevented cramming for tests the night before; other than that, there’s nothing I would have changed.
Anand: I would focus more on the sciences, since that ended up letting me down in the exams. I would have done this by trying various sources, i.e. using different (more complicated) science books or doing papers from various schools.
Deepy: Just being a bit more organised would have helped with planning study and other activities.
Darshdeep (Deepy) Kaur
ATAR: 98.3 (OP 1)
School: Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics & Technology, Brisbane
Subjects: Business, Biology, Chemistry, Maths, English & German
Intended Uni Course: Medicine
What key tips would you give students starting their Year 12?
Jesby: I believe time management is the key. Often multiple assessments tend to have the same deadlines so in order to achieve the best grades possible, it is important to spend equal amounts of time on each. It is helpful to create a weekly planner and to prioritise tasks according to when they are due. It is also helpful to maintain a good work-life balance so ensure that you commit yourself in co-curricular groups, volunteering or sports. Keep a good support network of family and friends, lean on their shoulders and cry if you really need to. Ensure you get good rest (although sometimes it isn’t possible) and eat healthy.
Nithi: I think I’ve pretty much deconstructed all my mistakes here for everyone to learn from! But definitely one important piece of advice would be to work how you work the best. Especially during your final exams. Try to understand how you learn, whether it is visually, through repeatedly listening or writing information down. I am very much a visual learner. For my final exams, and even for subject skills assessment tasks, I had written down key points and diagrams on sticky notes and stuck them around my room. Also re-writing your subject notes is highly, highly essential. I cannot stress enough how much it will help you. The more you write the better the information will store in your memory. Lastly, most important of all, just complete your tasks wholeheartedly and the benefits of it will follow thereafter.
Shrishti: Firstly, have an idea of what you want and where you are headed, because there will be obstacles on the way. During my Year 12, I felt like I was endlessly walking in the desert with nothing in sight for miles on end. Having an aim will guide you through the sand storms of assignments, tests, exams and personal issues. Do your best, that is all anyone, even your parents ask of you. Do not let yourself look back on your year and doubt whether you could have done better.
Anjali: Enjoy your last year of schooling as you will never have the opportunity to do so again. Don’t get too focused on your studies as you may miss the simple pleasures around you. Take it for what it is and always remember that your ATAR does not, and will not, define you.
Sahil: Be extremely organised from day one. Teachers will give you the course outlines at the start of the year, so you should always know (and try to remember) when your tests are. Never fall behind on homework or set work because once you fall behind it will be significantly harder to grasp new concepts presented next class session. Study everyday like the exams are tomorrow. Be persistent in studies, WACE is a 42-km marathon – not a 100m sprint.
Anand: The best way to prepare is to focus on every test and treat it as if it were an exam, i.e. don’t neglect any tests since every mark counts. Also, do not put too much pressure on yourself and try to relax a bit, especially before the exams, since when you’re nervous you can forget minor details which could cost lots of marks.
Deepy: Remain focussed and keep your eye on the prize. If it doesn’t work your way, don’t get down about it because they are ALWAYS other ways. And also, enjoy it – it is your last year of school!
Know any good Year 12 jokes?
Jesby: SACE is like an onion: the more you get to the core, the more you cry.
Nithi: The fact that, though everyone repeatedly enquires about your ATAR to the point that it is the most talked about issue of the year, they really do not know what those letters stand for or what it means.
Sahil: Dressing as my ATAR this Halloween, because there’s nothing much scarier.
Describe your Year 12 in three words.
Jesby: Challenging. Inspiring. Fruitful.
Nithi: Hectic. Memorable. Successful.
Shrishti: Anxious. Adventurous. Accomplishments.
Anjali: Exciting. Traumatic. Epic.
Anand: Demanding. Memorable. Rewarding
Sahil: Stressful but fun
Deepy: Fun. Metamorphic. Unforgettable.