The Year 12 balancing act

Reading Time: 14 minutes

Students from Adelaide dissect the final year of school and how they achieved success in 2013


After an intense year of hard work and preparation, the results of the SACE examinations are finally out, and a whole raft of new graduates are ready to embark on the next stage of their lives after school.

Indian Link spoke to students in Adelaide about their Year 12 experience, how they maintained a healthy balance between work and play, and their plans for the future.


What was your overall experience of Year 12?

Cutie Kannampuzha: Year 12 was mostly stressful, as expected. In the beginning of the year especially, it was really difficult because there was so much to do and I wasn’t very organised. But after I’d devised a routine, the year was easier to handle, even enjoyable.

Adit Chakranarayan: Year 12 as a whole was an enjoyable experience that was both challenging and rewarding. It is a time where organisation is a must, to ensure success.

Azaara Perakath:  It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire high school journey. Trying to keep up with the pressures of Year 12 while carrying out my duties as head prefect was certainly a juggling act, but it also taught me some invaluable skills that will influence the person I will be in the future.

Chaitra Barot: Year 12 is a difficult, stressful and a hectic year in comparison to any other year in school. Starting of the year is always uncomplicated and effortless, but by the end of term 3, it becomes unbelievably intricate. If you put in all the effort of studying the whole year through, you will definitely achieve what you have aimed for.

Jesrin Joseph: It was the most stressful year of my life. You have so much to do in such a short amount of time. It’s a rewarding experience and once finished, you understand what you are capable of and discover more things about yourself along the way.

Surekha Krishnan: It was all right, I mainly found it tough during term 4. All I wanted to do was study dance, and since I was dancing or learning to dance in various forms including ballet, jazz, tap, Bharathanatyam, Odissi, among others for over 9 hours a week, I found it very exciting!

Paurav Joshi: It was a pretty cool year. Like any student I did feel stressed. However, because I had completed two Year 12 subjects in Year 11, I had more free periods during my day which (when used wisely), allowed me to stay on top of my work.

Anjitha Sreekumar – It was a busy year with a lot of work. It was stressful, but yet the best year!

Darren Rebello: It was a very challenging, stressful and difficult year, but by prioritising my work, I was able to manage the stress well. I also used time management skills to get enough sleep to cope up with schoolwork for the next day, and to remain fresh throughout the day. Taking control of my studies right from day one helped in keeping everything under control, which was a big boost during the hectic year.


What subjects did you choose and why?

Cutie: I chose to do the IB (International Baccalureate) where I was required to take 6 subjects, some extra-curriculars and learn a subject called Theory of Knowledge. The subjects I did were English, Maths, Chemistry, Biology, French and Economics.

Adit: I chose Maths Studies, Maths Specialist, Physics, Chemistry and English studies because I enjoyed them the most and was good at them.

Azaara: I did the IB and chose English, French, History, Biology, Maths and Economics. I selected a combination of arts, humanities and science-based subjects. Since I have always wanted to pursue a career in the direction of law, I opted to take both History and Economics, subjects of a humanities/social sciences nature that would be a useful sounding board for my University plans.  However, I realized that combining a law degree with science would give me an inestimable advantage, as well as be the amalgamation of my two primary interests.

Chaitra: The subjects that I chose were Maths Studies, Biology, Chemistry, ESL Studies, Hindi and IPP (Information Publishing Programming). With six subjects instead of four, I had to work hard but I wanted to do something challenging and different. I also had to give an entrance exam UMAT (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test) to get into Medicine and also, I am a part-time worker at Coles. It was all very stressful but I think it is advantageous to have the knowledge of more subjects and careers.

Anjitha: I did Biology, Chemistry, Maths Studies and Maths Specialist. I chose those subjects because I wanted to get into Pharmaceutical Engineering or Medicine, and it requires some of these subjects as prerequisites.

Jesrin: I choose the subjects Maths Studies, Physics, Biology, ESL Studies, and I had to do a Research Project and Religion. I choose those main four subjects because I was not too sure of what career I wanted. Choosing these four subjects made me eligible to apply for almost 90% of the courses and kept my options open. Physics was the key subject which was a prerequisite for a majority of the courses, including the engineering and science courses.

Surekha: Dance, English communication, Tourism and Photography. I chose dance because I want to be a dancer, and the others because they were interesting and not too difficult.

Paurav: I chose Maths Studies, Physics, Biology and Legal Studies. I completed stage 2 level English and Art in Year 11. I wanted to keep my options open in University as (at the time) I wasn’t sure what pathway I would choose after high school.

Darren: Right from primary school, I preferred Mathematic and Science subjects and opted to choose Specialised Mathematics, Mathematical Studies, Chemistry and Physics from year 11. I thoroughly enjoyed the theory and applications of each of these subjects in Year 12.


What was your study routine and how did you cope with the stress?

Cutie: I studied in a lot of different ways, depending on the subject material. Often when I was learning new concepts, I would try to do it in a group. If I had additional difficulties, I would get help from my teachers, family or tutors. With assignments, I would always plan my work before beginning to write it up and refine it with help from the teacher. With practice and revision for tests or exams, I found it best to go over my notes, textbooks and instructional videos by myself, because that way I was more focused and used my time more effectively. I tried to revise really frequently so that it wouldn’t be too difficult to cram right before the exam.

I tried to de-stress a bit by watching a movie, but once I set a routine and tried to follow it, the stress just petered out. The exam period was the least stressful part of the year for me because I had learned how to organise myself a lot better by then. It’s also important to have a life outside of academics: sports, or volunteering or music or something that’ll give you contentment and social interaction.

Adit: Year 12 for me was not that stressful, except for a few weeks in the third term during which it felt like we were under pressure. Other than that, the year was a great one!

Azaara: As soon as I began senior school, I was aware of the challenges ahead of me. The single most important coping strategy was becoming (and staying) organized. Creating a study schedule was the best move I made. I used lists to prioritize tasks and consequently managed to avoid excessive sleep deprivation! I also scheduled frequent revision sessions rather than ‘cramming’ close to tests or exams. To do this however, I had to have long-term plans to ensure a balance between my academic work, my responsibilities as a student leader and my extracurricular pursuits such as sports and music.

Chaitra: It was not easy at all for me to do six subjects as I wanted to achieve the highest marks in all the subjects. I did not take any support from a tutor to improve my knowledge or understanding. I use to study by myself and took help from my subject teachers when required. Year 12 is a difficult, stressful and a hectic year in compare to any other year level in school and near the end of term 3, it becomes unbelievably intricate.  If you put in all the effort studying whole year then you will definitely achieve what you aim for.

Anjitha: To cope with the stress, I talked to teachers, got lots of help from them and my family, but especially my parents. I studied every school day and tried to memorize what I learned on that day itself. I went through class notes and workbooks. I started my exam revision from the middle of term three. I also did lot of previous exams and questions from the study guides. It was very stressful, especially with Maths Specialist. We also got lot of assignments at the same time and therefore it was important to be really organized. Unlike the previous years, we didn’t get lot of time to finish assignments.

Jesrin: I just decided to give it a go and see what I could achieve if I put my mind to it. Although at times I almost gave up. I did not do much work at school. Some of my peers would do their homework and similar work at school and they were just always working. But during this time, my mates and I goofed around and had some fun, and kept the work for home where you are alone and probably always bored.

Surekha: Most of my work was assignment based, so there was not much studying to do. But I constantly took breaks or would go out for a bit to avoid stress. However, since I loved what I was doing, it didn’t feel too hard. I also had a part-time job, and this took my mind off studies too. I also knew that I only needed an ATAR score of 60 to get into dance, so didn’t feel the pressure as much.

Paurav: I would like to say I kept a steady study routine but unfortunately that wasn’t possible – laziness, friends and lack of motivation played a primary role in hindering my studies. Also, my perfectionist attitude caused me to spend too much time on my work when I eventually did get around to completing it. However I always prioritized and made sure that for every break I took, I put in an equal amount of hard work until I was satisfied with what I had done for that day. This ensured that I would not regret any decisions I made the next day. Putting in the hard yards in the previous year allowed me to make Year 12 much easier to cope with. My parents gave me endless freedom and support, never pressurizing me and having faith in my ability. Truth be told, I had no time management skills besides completing my work as soon as I received it and prioritizing my tasks, ensuring that they were completed to the best of my ability.

Darren: My study pattern was quite challenging, persistent and committed. I studied for a couple of hours, took a break and carried on this cycle until 11pm. I had a well-organised study pattern and prioritized the important workload on a daily basis, which attributed to my success.

I did not have any added support from a private tutor or at home, except for the guidance of teachers at St. Paul’s, where help was always and readily available all the time. My parents’ constant following up and frequent discussions helped me monitor my progress and guided me towards this achievement.


What extra-curricular activities or hobbies helped you maintain a balance between work and play?

Cutie: I was in the school band playing the flute, a part of Club Red which encourages members to donate blood, in the French conversation club, and in the international club. Hobby-wise, I watched a lot of movies and TV shows, sometimes with friends, sometimes by myself. At one stage, I played chess with my dad every day for a few weeks.

Adit: Maintaining a constant exercise regime helped me focus on things other than study and really helped to keep the balance. Also focusing on my goal to become a doctor really motivated me.

Azaara: I have always loved being involved in activities which prompted me to take on various leadership roles within the school, entering writing competitions, joining language clubs and representing Glenunga on the girl’s tennis team, as well as the hockey team. I was also a weekly volunteer at the local animal shelter, which served as both a feel-good activity and a way to take my mind off study. At home, strumming my guitar was a sure-fire way to get me back on track whenever I felt even slightly overwhelmed by the daunting study hurdles ahead.

Chaitra: I did not get much time to play sports as I was occupied and engaged with my learning. I was also a Prefect in my school, I had to host assemblies, attend meetings, help organise events, help teachers whenever needed… the list is endless. I still somehow managed to balance my workload in a productive way.

Anjitha: I enjoy dancing. This year, I performed in a couple of shows in term 1, and therefore I was able to manage. After that, I stayed away from dance and concentrated more on studies until the end of exams.

Jesrin: Just hung out with friends and had a good time while making sure I stayed on schedule and did all my work. I read somewhere that a clean room gives off a positive vibe, which could help you study and could motivate you. From personal experience I think this is a good tactic that could be used, as long you don’t waste all your energy cleaning the room! Also, eating little snacks while you study and taking breaks at least every 50 minutes helps you stay focussed.

Surekha: Dancing! Outside of school, I teach Bharatanatyam, train in Odissi, ballet, jazz and tap, among others. But since I love dancing, I really enjoyed learning all the new dance styles, and some were necessary for Year 12.

Paurav: I did not have any extra-curricular activities, really. Just ate and slept well and made sure I had a normal social life. In reflection, the year was not as stressful and difficult as it is often made out to be as long as you maintain a social life in moderation and enjoy the entire experience.

Darren: When I needed to take a break, I loved playing the guitar as a stress-buster, and being a fan of soccer helped take my mind off studies. I also believe firmly in charity and giving back to the community, and have dedicated holidays during which I volunteer for the Salvation Army charity stores, an activity I thoroughly enjoy. I also played cricket and read to keep my mind focused on activities that do not involve studying.


What advice do you have for current students?

Cutie:  I feel a bit pretentious giving tips, as I don’t think I’m such an authority on Year 12 myself. But talk to your teachers and they’ll probably tell you what they told me: organisation, motivation and practice are key. You need to be organised so you’ll be in the best state of mind to study effectively. Motivation is important because you will really give your all to whatever you’re studying. Practice is, of course, important because nearly all the subjects I learnt were examined at the end of Year 12 and required us to do work we learnt back in the beginning of Year 11.

Adit: Study hard, exercise, get organised, choose subjects that you enjoy and are good at, and enjoy the year!

Azaara: Year 12 is your final year of schooling. It is about acquiring the skills to be an independent learner and to find out what works best for you, because ultimately, that’s what living life is like. Find a study regime that works best for you and remember to keep a balance between studying and socializing. Also, it’s definitely important to carefully consider your subject selection, because it impacts your ability to make decisions about your tertiary education and the relevant courses you will be eligible to apply for.

Start out with a realistic goal, and don’t forget to have fun while setting out to achieve it!

Chaitra: Plan how you will work for the week and be aware of due dates. Most importantly, work hard from the start of the year and be up to date with your work in all subjects. Work smart, not hard.

Anjitha: Don’t leave your assignments and revision for test/exam for the day before. And don’t choose Maths Specialist unless you really need it!

Jesrin: Do anything you can to stay motivated. Never give up despite the temptation to do so, because you will definitely regret it when the results come out. Eat, pray and study – trust me, it works! Stay organised and the number one rule is to never procrastinate. From my experience, procrastinating is the worst thing you could do to yourself.

Surekha: Do the subjects you enjoy and require, and don’t leave everything to the last minute.

Paurav: Ensure that everything is in moderation – breaks, social time as well as study, and use every resource available to you, especially your parents and teachers. They are your greatest assets in Year 12. The year is not stressful if you do the subjects and activities you enjoy, and ensure that only your best is given to every task you undertake. At least then, it can be said that you tried your best and nothing more can be asked of you. Remember, the ATAR required for a particular university course is only representative of its popularity, not its difficulty. Popular courses have greater competition and therefore require a higher ATAR to enter the course. At the end of the year, the ATAR you receive is the one you deserve, and obtaining the score you want is very, very rewarding.

Darren: Take control of your studies right from beginning of the year and work hard to obtain the results you seek. Keep your goals in mind and work towards them. While there may be periods where you are tired of studying and feel like giving up, remember and look forward for the end of year holidays. If you remain persistent and work hard, you will reap the rewards of what you sow.


What is your most memorable Year 12 experience?

Cutie: I can’t pick one. Year 12 is a series of experiences which can’t be reduced to just one particular moment. It’s getting closer to your friends, realising how important what you’re doing will be to your future, learning how to cope with difficulties, and being proud of yourself when something you work so hard towards becomes a reality.

Adit: Getting a merit for Chemistry and Research project.

Azaara: That’s difficult, there are so many! Perhaps travelling to Sydney with the school prefects to be on the nationally televised show Q&A where former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was the sole panellist. Being at a forum where the youth of Australia were able to ask questions of the PM was incredibly inspiring, and I returned home with a new sense of resolve and motivation.

Chaitra: Achieving the Academic Excellence Award at school and achieving the Medal for Academic Excellence in Hindi.

Anjitha: The fun I had with my friends is my most memorable experience from my last year in school.

Jesrin: My most memorable experience would be dropping my mate into the school fountain on muck up day while the whole school watched. This might be a weird memorable experience, but during one week I had four tests in four days and just getting past that and being alive and awake on the fifth day of the school was rewarding. Last but not least, when I finished my last exam of Year 12, it was the best moment of my life. My friends and I decided to scream at traffic intersections and go for a car ride straight after.

Surekha: The school formal and graduation night. Even though some were not part of school, the dance performances I gave at various events like OzAsia Festival and others.

Paurav: The most memorable experience for me in was most likely the school formal, because it was such a successful night (along with the after party) and provided the perfect lapse from strenuous study. Even if you do not have a date, I highly recommend attending it.

Darren: Being awarded the College Dux for my Year 12 achievement was the most memorable moment, because it had been a difficult year and my hard work had paid off.


What does your future hold?

Cutie: I’m aiming to do medicine at Adelaide University.

Adit: Medicine at Flinders University. If not, I’ll do a pharmacy degree and then apply for graduate entry into medicine.

Azaara:  I hope to study a law-science double degree at the University of Adelaide. Given that I have been studying French as a second language for much of my childhood, I am also keen to undertake an academic exchange in France during the course of my degree to enhance my proficiency in the language as well as to broaden my horizons.

Chaitra: My future plan is to attend a Medical School, which will successfully lead me into acquiring a Medicine degree

Anjitha: I am planning to do Medical Imaging this year. I might attempt the UMAT and try for Medicine again, but that’s not for sure.

Jesrin: I’ve decided to do something with Science. So I’ve applied for physiotherapy and hopeful I’ll get in. If I like it I’ll stay, or maybe change.

Surekha: Train in dance and join a dance company. The real challenge was getting into University, because the course I wanted to do at Flinders University is combined with a TAFE Diploma. This proved to be a difficult entry point, so I have decided complete my diploma at a private college and then go to Uni later on.

Darren: I am focused on community giving, I believe in helping the community and have opted to follow Bachelor of Pharmacy through the University of SA. I am unsure about what the future may hold for me but I now look forward to starting Uni, and hope to progress through it attaining the best marks I can.

Paurav Joshi: As I await my offers from prospective universities, I plan on choosing either a law or architecture course at Adelaide University and then just seeing where life takes me. From what I’ve heard, Uni life can be very exciting and fulfilling and I look forward to it.



Cutie Kannampuzha

Glenunga Intl High School

IB score 42/45; ATAR 99.80


Adit Chakranarayan

Christian Brothers College

ATAR 99.6


Azaara Anna Perakath

Glenunga International High School

IB score: 41/45; ATAR: 99.1


Chaitra Barot

Roma Mitchell Secondary College

ATAR 97.80


Anjitha Sreekumar

Charles Campbell College



Jesrin Joseph

Christian Brothers College

ATAR 87.5


Surekha Krishnan

Aberfoyle Park High School

ATAR 76.05


Paurav Joshi

Adelaide High School

ATAR 95.2


Darren Rebello

St. Paul’s College

ATAR 99.75

Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai
Vinaya Rai is a counsellor by profession with interests in writing, radio, emcee'ing, organising and attending events.

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