Reading Time: 15 minutes
Aarushi Chadha (QCE)
Stretton State College
OP: OP 1
Subjects: Chemistry, English, Maths B, Maths C, Philosophy, Physics
Academic Awards: College DUX, Certificate of Academic Commendation
Nandini Shelke (QCE)
Wavell State High School
OP: OP 4
Subjects: Maths B, Maths C, English, English Literature, Physics, Chemistry
Ruturaj Vaidya (QCE)
Whitsunday Anglican School, Mackay
ATAR/OP: 99.75, OP 1
Subjects: Math B, Math C, Physics, Chemistry, French, English
Awards: Proxime Accessit of Whitsunday Anglican School, Prize for Chemistry, Physics, French
Cicily Matthew (SACE)
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College
Subjects: Chemistry, Biology, English Literary Studies, General Mathematics, Information Processing and Publishing, Research Project
Academic Awards: Academic Excellence Award 2017, Subject Dux in Biology and Chemistry
Shiv Ghandi (SACE)
Emmaus Christian College
Subjects: English, Psychology, Food and Hospitality, Aboriginal Studies, and Research Project.
Karishma Shah (SACE)
Roma Mitchell Secondary College
Subjects: Maths Methods, English Literary Studies, Chemistry, Physics and Research Project
Awards: Academic Excellence awards for term 2 and 3
With your QCE/SACE now done and dusted, you’ve probably had opportunity to look back at it all with wisdom. What did you learn about yourself in the QCE/SACE year?
Aarushi: I have realised that I am much more resilient than I thought I was because I was not only able to juggle the academic work load, but I also successfully made a mark for myself in the co-curricular field, being one of the four College Captains at my school.
Nandini: I learnt that educating myself is the most empowering thing I can do for myself. And also that procrastination is a habit I should learn to drop. “You can’t finish this in 2 days before the due date” is not a challenge so I’m hoping to rid myself of my incredible lack of motivation at the most crucial of times.
Ruturaj: One of the biggest things I discovered about myself was my ability to turn adversities into stepping stones for success. I was able to defy expectations, turn good results into amazing results and fulfil all my goals comprehensively, which allowed me to discover my inner resilience and perseverance.
Karishma: I started my SACE year thinking that I would pass it without any issues. However, things didn’t go exactly as planned. I learnt that when things don’t turn out the way you expected, you have to embrace the change and pick yourself up – which is what I learnt to do throughout my journey. This responsibility from the final year of my high school was overwhelming but I also learnt that along with striving for what I wanted to achieve, I have to accept a few rejections and even situations that may seem like failures as these are the ones that made me stronger. Another thing that I learnt about myself was that I am very capable of doing what I used to think I could never do. The assignments that I thought I could never finish or the due dates that I thought I could never surpass were highly possible with just some self-belief and hard work.
Cicily: Looking back at Year 12, I learnt the importance of hard work. To get through the year, you had to be focused and prepared to put your best foot forward. I also learned to balance my time and prioritise my responsibilities as well as schoolwork. I also realised how important it was to have a good support system in order to stay motivated during the toughest times.
Shiv: I wasn’t a very academic person before Year 12, but I quickly ended up realising that no goals are unrealistic (within reason). Each goal I set for myself this year I ended up achieving. With hard work and determination, anyone can achieve what they desire.
What were your expectations going into the QCE/SACE year? How did reality compare?
Aarushi: I believed Year 12 would be no different than Year 11 in terms of the academic load, which turned out to be somewhat true. Year 12 wasn’t complex; it was just too congested. However, emotionally, it was quite the journey since every school event had a sentimental value attached to it – the last ‘first day of school’, the last sports carnival, the last school holidays, the last English class and so on.
Nandini: In the summer holidays before Year 12, I was anxious for it to start because everyone freaks out about it. But it was like Year 11 except everything actually counts toward your OP.
Ruturaj: I expected the final QCE year to be an extremely gruelling and tremendously stressful affair that would feel like an eternity. However, my parents were extremely supportive of me throughout the year and encouraged me at each step, so QCE felt a lot less stressful that I expected.
Karishma: Whilst transitioning into the major SACE year, I expected myself to have almost no problems with keeping up my grades. But when I really saw what was expected of me out of my subjects and their assessment requirements as well as the criteria, I did get lost and struggled with additional stress. It was hard for me to accept my grades at the very beginning and I started thinking that I wouldn’t be able achieve my ideal score. The reality, as harsh as it was at the time, was what I needed to get a hold of myself and not let emotions, expectations and requirements get ahead of me.
Cicily: My expectations where very similar to how reality turned out. Going into Year 12, I expected it to be a stressful and jam-packed year and it was just that. There were many assessments to complete simultaneously in a short time frame. However, with good time management skills, a good group of friends to lean on and the support of my family, I was able to tackle it and even enjoy my last year of schooling.
Shiv: I honestly expected the assignments to be a lot harder than what I got. It was just the heavy workload which was the hard part.
What extra-curricular activities or hobbies helped you maintain a balance between work and play?
Aarushi: I decided to learn Spanish to take my mind off the academic stress and work towards my personal development. Other than this, the role of the College Captain and the responsibilities that came with it also helped me channel my time into fruitful things.
Nandini: I don’t have many hobbies but I took up Carnatic singing about a year ago, so that gave me something to look forward to outside of schoolwork. And mehndi, mostly on paper but I practice on my sister and myself.
Ruturaj: I volunteered for service clubs at school Interact, Social Justice Club and Zonta. I had a few leadership roles, too, as I was the Academic Captain at my school and the Director of Interact. I also played cricket socially and played the guitar. All these activities helped me maintain a balance between work and play.
Karishma: Unfortunately, as the subjects I did required most of my time, I could not manage to do extra-curricular activities. However, I did do justice to my hobbies when I had breaks or any free time. One of my hobbies included calligraphy and so I used to practice writing motivational quotes in different fonts to hang up around my room. Besides that, I used to dance and learn hip-hop to stay physically active and enjoy some music during my free time.
Cicily: Through my role as a college leader in Year 12, I had the opportunity to partake in many social justice initiatives including nursing home visits, soup kitchen and mentoring Year 8 students. We had a campaign named Project Love where we organised activities on promoting self-love, appreciation for staff and appreciation for education. Being a part of these activities taught me how to manage my time efficiently and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. Hobby-wise, I enjoyed spending time with my family and friends. If I needed a stress-buster, I would watch a movie or listen to music.
Shiv: I found a passion for the gym and working out regularly during Year 12 as it helped me stay positive and happy, physically and mentally.
What would you have done differently, overall?
Aarushi: As a student, my assessment strategy could have been much better. Procrastinating really increases the stress manifold.
Nandini: I would’ve tried to manage my time better. I think I could’ve avoided a lot of turmoil if I’d just started studying or doing assignments a week or two earlier.
Ruturaj: Overall, I was happy with my results as I had given my 100%. If I had to do something differently, I probably would’ve volunteered for more clubs around my city as I love volunteering.
Karishma: If it was up to me to change something overall, it would be to calm down at the several stages of SACE – such as during exams, tests or even filling up my university application. This is because I realised that these situations caused me anxiety, which led to me getting distracted during my study sessions and hence I couldn’t sleep, which is why I got several results that were lower than my expectations. Being too hard on myself for not achieving the best is something I wish I could have changed as that could have resulted into a positive mindset.
Cicily: I don’t think I would have done much differently because I tried my best and am happy with the results.
Shiv: I think I would’ve tried spending more time on myself and not just focusing on school and work. During the stressful exam period, it can be so easy to just worry about your work, tests and exams and not think of yourself as much, which is what I ended up doing quite a bit.
How did you feel at the end of your first assessment of the year? How did you feel at the end of your final QCE/SACE exam?
Aarushi: My last assessment piece was a Physics exam and I remember how I felt when I finally put my pen down. It was lunch time and unlike any other exam, I had no intention of discussing my answers with my friends. Twelve years of assessments had finally come to an end and I felt like celebrating. Simply put, I was ecstatic.
Nandini: I can’t actually remember what the first assessment was because I try to forget about assignments and exams once I hand them in, but I remember feeling a calm anxiety. ‘Calm’ because I made it through the first assessment and ‘anxiety’ because there were many more to go. After my final assessment, I was ready for it to be over. My attitude towards exams and assessment is “what’s done is done.” So once I finish the assessment, I put it out of my mind. After that exam I was just eager to graduate.
Ruturaj: I felt very confident at the end of my first assessment as I had put in my 100% in study that I had done that term, so I couldn’t have asked more from myself. I felt relieved that the QCE was finally over, but at the same time, I also felt sad that it would be the last time I’d see my friends and teachers at school. I felt extremely thankful to everyone who supported me throughout QCE, especially my parents whose endless love and support kept me going even during the toughest of the times.
Karishma: My first assessment, being a chemistry formative test, went totally opposite to what I had imagined. I received my first ever C grade and it was a complete shock because chemistry was one of my strengths. As much as I was devastated due to my initial over-confidence, I decided to get help by talking to my teachers and parents who helped me a lot. Fittingly, my final SACE exam was also chemistry, and it was the best exam I had given from all of my other four subjects – just made me realise that I had developed positively. This was the best feeling ever.
Cicily: After I received back my first assessment for Year 12, I was slightly disappointed with the result. However, this motivated me to work harder and I was determined to do better with the next one. At the end of my final SACE exam, I felt a sense of relief but I was also in disbelief that it was actually over!
Shiv: I felt quite happy in all honesty! I found the work easy and was pretty peaceful with it. As soon as I walked out of my last exam, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me.
Social media now plays a big part in the lives of many QCE/SACE students. Did you find Facebook groups such as the QCE/SACE Discussion Space helpful?
Aarushi: I found QCE Discussion Space as well as our school subject groups on Facebook very useful because they provide a platform where students can interact and help each other. These groups have also been great stress-busters, especially with the amazing QCS memes posted in the QCE Discussion Space.
Nandini: Ah yes, the QCE Discussion Space. It was more like a place where students would poke fun at the questions instead of feeling uncertain or anxious about how they did; a communal space for suffering, if you will. I feel like allowing the Year 12 cohort of 2017 to express their experiences through jokes and memes was really cathartic, in that it allowed a group that experienced something together to not feel bad if they got something wrong because everyone else got it wrong. Of course, it’s a double-edged sword, because someone can also feel ‘stupid’ if they see memes and jokes calling them stupid for a question they got wrong, despite most people getting it right. Ultimately, getting out of the exams and seeing the jokes kept me a little sane throughout the never-ending testing process. Reading a question and thinking “Wow, this is gonna be meme-d so much on the QCE Discussion Space” was better than being anxious over it.
Karishma: Totally! SACE Discussion Space and several other Facebook groups not only allowed me to gain a perspective of how students going through SACE felt but also helped me feel a little light-hearted when I read about the experiences similar to mine. I also had the benefit of knowing about several important notices and information about SACE events beforehand.
Ruturaj: Social media experiences can alter depending on the person using it. For example, Facebook groups such as the QCE Discussion Space aided me to meet more people who were doing the same course as me and some helped answer my application queries. On the other hand, some of my acquaintances at school unfortunately got distracted due to the memes posted on the page on the day of the QCS test, an affair that ultimately affected their results.
Cicily: During the school year, I had stayed away from Facebook to avoid distractions but my peers and I had group chats for each class where we could ask questions, share notes, knowledge or relatable memes to tone down the tension before a test or exam.
Shiv: I did! It’s always comforting to know that you’re not the only one feeling a certain way. And to be part of a group with thousands of other SACE students was amusing, but also helpful.
What would your advice to future final year students be?
Aarushi: The final year of school is a short one and it feels even shorter when you are the one going through it. Never miss an opportunity to make great memories. Academically, I would be a hypocrite if I told you not to procrastinate, but seriously, try your best not to. Group study sessions can be very beneficial too if you are able to use your time wisely. Don’t ever shy away from asking for help – academic or emotional. Best wishes!
Nandini: Try to manage your time well and don’t stress too much. High school is not the end. Yes, it makes the path toward your end goal shorter, but there are always other ways to get to your goal. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t do as well as you expected. Also, unless you’re passionate about something specific, you probably won’t end up in the job you expect, so do your best, get qualified, then go where the wind takes you.
Karishma: The things that I learnt from my experience, which I would advise future final year students, would be to set themselves a work management schedule. As hard as the first step may seem, by identifying their weak subjects, they should be able to set a schedule that allows them to work harder towards devoting more time to those subjects. I also believe that communication is the key to success because by expressing any concerns or asking questions to the teachers and parents, you can help gain motivation to do better. After all, this journey of the final school year is as much as theirs as it is yours. Even getting tutors if required beforehand can change study habits or can help gain confidence. Overall, take the most out of this journey as it would help you in your upcoming years of adulthood.
Ruturaj: Work hard, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and don’t just aim to reach goals, aim to defy expectations.
Cicily: Give it your best as Year 12 only happens once. Sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice things you enjoy but it will all be worth it in the end. Know how you work best, as there is no point spending hours reading through your notes if nothing is going into your head. I worked out that summarising and rewriting my notes into a new book, practising past tests and exam style questions and watching YouTube tutorials worked best for me. It is also important to have a balance between work and life, so have something that you can de-stress with or to take your mind off of school. It is also important to eat healthy and get enough rest, as your health is key. Remember your family and friends are there for you, your teachers are there to help you and you are not going to be in this alone. But most importantly, remember to step back and enjoy the simple things that make up your last year of school!
Shiv: Before starting the year, find a hobby that you’re passionate about and continue with it throughout the year so you don’t just focus on school. Also, going to that one party or dinner won’t make you fail a test, so just go and enjoy your final year of high school.
What moments from the past year do you remember most?
Aarushi: It is very hard to pick memorable moments because the entire year was so memorable. Regardless, what I’ll miss the most are the study sessions with my friends, inside jokes with teachers, class parties, organising assemblies… basically being at Stretton State College for five days a week, ten weeks a term, four terms a year!
Nandini: I don’t have one moment in particular, but tutorials on Wednesday afternoons were spent crying with laughter with my friends. I really appreciate them and I hope everyone finds people like that in their lives – people to laugh with and cry with. Having that support at school was what kept me happy despite the stress throughout the year.
Ruturaj: My most memorable moments from the past year were during my leadership initiatives, such as me setting events like peer-tutoring and debating forums at school.
Cicily: Looking back it felt like it was all just a blur, but the moments I remember most are aquatics and athletics carnival, Formal, Senior Retreat but most importantly having mini adventures and deep conversations with my friends to fill up our last year of recess and lunches together.
Shiv: I remember the overwhelming workload and I also remember the hours that were spent into planning for Formal. I remember conversations with my teachers and I also remember my last day.
How did you celebrate the end of your exams?
Aarushi: I just had lunch with my friends… never had a proper celebration because I had to prepare for my interviews with various med schools!
Nandini: I was actually in India for all of December, so getting to see my family is an amazing graduation gift. Also, I am in LOVE with Guzman Y Gomez so I went there with my family, and another time with friends and ate so many nachos.
Ruturaj: I drank a glass of water, fist-pumped my friends and thanked my parents and teachers for aiding me throughout the year.
Karishma: I started my celebration by first spending all my time with my family and thanking each one of the members for motivating me and having the patience to deal with me. I then spent time with my friends as we went out to do fun activities, have picnics, sleepovers and finally went to visit the teachers at school to thank them dearly for all they had done for us.
Cicily: My last exam was Chemistry and my friends and I treated ourselves to a burrito bowl!
Shiv: I went to Hungry Jack’s and then took a nap.
Favourite quote from a teacher?
Aarushi: “It is your learning journey, so give a go!” – Mr Kumar (when we were too scared to solve Maths B questions ourselves)
Nandini: A bit of background information: I had a teacher in Year 11 named Mr Goodwin. He promised our class ice cream (he even signed a contract) at the end of Year 12 but then he moved to China. Probably to get out of buying 20 people ice cream. I didn’t actually have my favourite quote, but a friend told me that he looked at a board of mathematical working and said “Isn’t it magical?” With a look of pure wonder on his face, and since I am doing a math and finance degree, I want to try to find as much magic in mathematics as he did.
Ruturaj: Every time we asked a question to this teacher of ours (who will remain unnamed), he would reply coolly, “I don’t know, you tell me…”
Shiv: “If a guy treats you less than what you’re worth, drop him like a hot cake.”
Karishma: “Work hard in silence now only to let your success make the noise.”
Know any good QCE/SACE jokes?
Aarushi: Hop onto QCE Discussion Space for some good QCS jokes!
Nandini: Sure. The education system.
Ruturaj: QCAA leaking QCS results a few weeks earlier than they were planned gave us all a good laugh.
Karishma: Don’t worry! There’s always TAFE.
What was your Jersey name?
Nandini: I’m basic so I opted for my last name on the back. “SHELKE”.
Ruturaj: Darth Vaidya
Cicily: Kaniyamparampil (My Family Name)
Describe your QCE/SACE year in three (or four) words.
Aarushi: Wonderful, memorable, life-changing
Nandini: Possibilities, Academic, Interesting, Noteworthy
Ruturaj: Rollercoaster, mostly with highs.
Cicily: Challenging, Transforming, Exciting
Shiv: Lots of headaches.
Karishma: Exceptional milestone in one’s life.