Year 12 2023: Lessons about oneself

The Class of 2023 look back at the last year of school. SUHAYLA SHARIF report.

Reading Time: 13 minutes


Drishti Gupta
School: Cheltenham Girls High School
Subjects: Maths Ext 1, Maths Ext 2, Chemistry, Biology and
English Advanced

Rishi Sethi
School: Haileybury College
Subjects: English, Legal Studies, Accounting, French, Further
Mathematics, Mathematical Methods

Aayush Lekhwani
School: North Sydney Boys High School
Subjects: English Advanced, English Extension 1, English
Extension 2, Mathematics Advanced, Mathematics Extension 1,
Legal Studies, Ancient History

Aakriti Malhotra

School: Suzanne Cory High School
Subjects: English Language, Specialist Maths, Mathematical Methods, French, Chemistry, Biology

Devika Mukherjee
School: Wilderness School
Subjects: Biology, chemistry, english literary studies, legal
studies, philosophy, activating identities and futures, Headstart
(introduction to criminology and introduction to logic).

Pragati Nath
School: Rossmoyne Senior High School
Subjects: Maths specialist, maths methods, chemistry, politics
and law, economics, literature

Dixya Biyala
School: Don College
Subjects: Physics 4, Chemistry 4, Biology 3, Mathematics
Specialised 4

Aarushi Dhamu
School: Cheltenham Girls’ High School
Subjects: Aboriginal Studies. (Class of 2024 – Completed
Aboriginal Studies in 2023 as an accelerated course.)

Krishav Malhotra
School: Melbourne High School
Subjects: Specialist Maths, Mathematical Methods, English,
Physics, Chemistry and Biology


Now that Year 12 is behind you, you likely have had the chance to reflect on the experience. What insights did you gain about yourself?

Drishti: Year 12 had been a year full of excitement and challenges. I learned to challenge myself by stretching my normal study time and choosing some subjects which were initially difficult to me in Year 11. I learned that I could achieve the desired result through hard work, time management, strategic and smart way of studying. Nonetheless perseverance helped me a lot in keeping myself focused throughout the HSC year.

Aayush: Now that I look back at my time in Year 12, one thing I’ve definitely recognised about myself as an individual is that the stress and hectic nature that pretty much constructs a typical Year 12 experience proves to be beneficial at the end of the day, as it builds resilience and engraves strength to face challenges head on and deal with adversity in better ways.

Aarushi: I think that by undertaking an accelerated course alongside my Year 11 subjects, I revealed to myself that successfully completing a HSC course is something I am capable of. I was able to uncover the work ethic that I knew was hidden in me somewhere! The struggle of having to balance the accelerated course with my other subjects was definitely challenging, as I found myself focusing largely on my accelerated subject and often cramming for my Year 11 courses. I learnt that I really needed to master having a balanced study timetable, but most importantly I gained more confidence in myself after receiving my very first HSC result!

Rishi: I learnt not to underestimate myself, and I can achieve more than I think if I put my mind to it. I tended to get overwhelmed and stressed whenever I received many assignments, or had SACS coming up, but in the end I did enough to prepare so I should just trust myself to pull through.

Aakriti: I learnt the importance of taking brain breaks! I’m admittedly a workaholic, but I think the Year 12 experience really helped me understand the value of resting my brain and not being hard on myself.

Krishav: I learnt that hard work doesn’t always pay off, but when it does, it’s a sweet victory. I think that a lot of people get quite demotivated when hard work doesn’t pay off, but that’s part of life, and it can be due to factors outside our control as well. However, I learnt that with enough dedication and perseverance you will reap the rewards of all the hard work you put in, even if the results do not come instantly.

Devika: I learnt that I enjoy being busy and am most productive when I have lots going on in life.

Pragati: I learnt that I am an individual that prioritises achievement in every form whether that is in terms of my academics or in the relationships I make. I learnt that I am someone who requires to connect with my friends and family to drive forward and pursue my passions and goals. I now understand that the people I surround myself with are the most valuable assets in my life.

Dixya: One of the best things I learned was that I had not previously been able to admit my own limitations until I had finished Year 12. Being able to do this when it was about my academics, something I highly care for and was aspiring quite high in, was something I found out I struggled with.

Year 12

What moments from 2023 do you remember most fondly?

Pragati: Honestly, it’s the moments that were detached from school and studying. Perhaps, after the exams, hanging out with my friends, just unwinding and letting go of the exam stress and pressure.

Aayush: The moments I remember most fondly from 2023 came funnily during the last few weeks before graduation, in which all my friends decided to come together and have our own soccer/football competition to make the most out of the last few weeks we’d have together as students.

Drishti: Catching up with friends after each term in our favourite eatery outlet to burst stress was one of my most fond memories. This was the most sought moment which I always was looking for, to have fun and motivate one another. Another memory was my selection and participation in the chemistry titration competition held in Macquarie University where I represented my school.

Rishi: The relieved feeling after completing a SAC or exam was hard to forget and something to look forward to. A main thing that drove me to continue to work right until my final exam was looking forward to this feeling afterwards, knowing that I could finally be free from stress and pressure.

Aakriti: Taking part in the French Model United Nations meet is probably my most fond memory and was also a great experience. For one whole day, we became delegates of different countries around the world (I was Argentina) and debated different resolutions and proposed amendments. The experience from this day was not only fun – making new friends and catching up with some old ones – but also very fruitful, shaping me as a French learner and helping me achieve 100% in my end of year oral exam! Another fond memory was when my Year 5 primary school teacher sent me an email, after finding me in The Age post-ATAR release, and I went back to visit him and my primary school!

Aarushi: Some of my favourite moments from 2023 were at a school camp I went on for accelerated Aboriginal Studies. As we travelled around the Northern Territory, we learnt about Australian history from a direct Indigenous perspective and immersed ourselves in Aboriginal culture. This trip was one of the most invaluable experiences and I am so grateful I was privileged enough to attend. Other moments that I remember fondly were the times spent with my friends where I could just relax and focus on things outside of school. However, the excitement that washed over me the second that the invigilator told us to put our pens down at the end of the exam, definitely provided me with unbeatable joy.

Krishav: Honestly, the moment I remembered most fondly of 2023 was when I got my results. I think during my VCE I had quite a bit of tunnel vision and was only focussed on my studies, so as a result, getting the results was something that I remember gave me an overwhelming sense of relief, and was something I remember fondly.

Devika: Moments spent with friends and family having fun and supporting one another.

Dixya: I think of all the time I have spent with family and friends, whether it was watching a movie or just talking and laughing, having a good time. I think of all the cultural events I went to held by our community and all the fun new places I discovered, as well as my classes and getting to know my teachers and fellow classmates over the course of the year.

What is one change you’d make to your state’s ATAR system?

Aayush: To give more value and scaling to humanities subjects.

Rishi: I would change the system for derived scores. My GAT scores were considerably worse than my actual subject study scores, and these scores are used by VCAA when calculating derived scores. I know of friends who received a study score much lower than they should have due to not being able to sit the exam properly. I don’t believe this is fully fair, and there should be a more thorough system of ensuring the study score achieved is a better reflection of what a student deserves.

Devika: Adapt some of the subjects to better test understanding of concepts rather than memorisation.

Aakriti: SEAS (Special Entry Access Scheme) being available to people practically living next door to me, in metropolitan areas, is definitely something I would change. It can be difficult knowing that people living in the same conditions as you are, getting aggregate boosts when you’re not.

Krishav: I don’t think there is anything I would change.

Pragati: In WA, each school sets their internals which comprise 50% of your final ATAR and then the WACE which makes up the remainder. Each school’s internals are of varying difficulty. Although there is a process of moderation which the exam board undertakes, I felt that my slightly weaker internal scores hindered me from achieving the best possible ATAR I could. Hence, I would suggest levelling the playing field to a greater extent by making each school’s internals of similar difficulty.

Dixya: I think the system here is quite well suited to me personally, but I know others might perform better if there wasn’t so much pressure on our external exams which happen only once at the end of the year. So, my suggestion would be to introduce a low weighted, and much shorter in length, external exam for mid-years, which could ease some of the nerves for the end of year, as well as provide students with the opportunity to see how they would perform under pressure and improve over the remaining year.

Drishti: I reckon the current ATAR system is an appropriate system considering many suitable scaling variables whilst calculating the rank of an individual student.

How did you use social media, like TikTok and Instagram? Did you ever see any education or study-based content?

Aarushi: Though social media played quite a minimal role in helping me study, one thing it helped with was motivation. Seeing many Year 12s post about creating a study routine pushed me to establish my own, and TikTok accounts such as ‘ATAR Notes’ would expose me to past HSC questions for my other subjects, which was an engaging way to practise for other exams. Apart from that, I did not see much content related directly to my accelerated course, apart from a few past major works.

Aayush: I used social media just to pass time and scroll through whenever I felt like I had time to kill. I’d see study-based content every now and then and would be intrigued by their “study-hacks” although any attempt at incorporating them rarely lasted over a week or two.

Rishi: I watched YouTube videos to help gather information and notes for my English texts, as well as helping with learning and improving Maths skills. I came across many study tips and methods on TikTok, some of which I tried to implement. Social media was also useful in collaborating with friends and classmates and working together.

Drishti: I deleted every social media app at the start of Year 12 to remain focused.

Aakriti: My relationship with social media pretty much stayed the same throughout Year 12. I know a lot of people delete social media, but it wasn’t necessary for me. As long as you can control the time you spend on social media, it can serve as a good break!

Devika: Honestly I just used Instagram as a way to procrastinate work.

Pragati: Throughout the two years of upper schooling, I have used Instagram on a frequent basis to unwind. Yes, I did see study-based content advising students on how to better their study technique, however I must admit this was quite rare.

Krishav: I only used Facebook. I think Facebook is actually quite beneficial especially certain pages since you can purchase resources or look for high-scoring tutors who can teach these subjects well.

Dixya: I used them like most other people, scrolling every now and then, and would a lot of the time see study-based content. Some of it was humorous, others were advice or study techniques that people used (mostly university students).

What extra-curricular activities, hobbies, or TV shows helped you through the past two years?

Dixya: I watched some Netflix over the last two years and YouTube. I’ve rewatched some favourites like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and finally watched classics like Friends, as well as plenty of other shows. I also learned a little bit of many languages from Duolingo, sketching often, and listening to a lot of music.

Aayush: As Indian as this sounds, an extra-curricular/hobby that’s kept me busy outside of studying for the past 2 years and honestly for as long as I can remember, is playing cricket.

Drishti: I read fiction books at my leisure time and played with Luna (my German Shepard). Often, I played chess with my elder brother and spent quality time with family members. My Dadi (grandmother) who was with us last year was also one of my motivators. I used to talk to her whenever I used to get time on various topics. This inspired me lot to do good and explore the world.

Rishi: I tried to maintain a study/life balance throughout the year. Some hobbies include doing Bhangra classes every week, going out with friends when I had the time, playing board games, and rewarding myself with video games or TV after a study session. I watched a combination of comedy and thrillers on TV to make sure that my mind was getting a relaxing break from the studying.

Aarushi: Small hobbies such as playing the guitar or trying to learn keyboard were definitely some of my favourite pastimes as they were a fun break, but also allowed me to stimulate my mind in other ways. I also found going on frequent walks, especially in the evening, very relaxing after being cooped up all day studying.

Aakriti: I’m a member of the Multicultural Youth Network at the Victorian Multicultural Commission, and I think that this engagement really helped me by taking my mind off Year 12 studies! Meetings with the committee as well as external engagements were not only great experiences but also great distractions too!

Devika: Doing lots of debating – it was something that I really enjoyed and was successful at in Year 12. This gave me something to focus on that wasn’t just academics in school. Spending time cooking whilst blasting music was my favourite way to destress and reset.

Pragati: I played the flute, and danced kathak throughout the ATAR period which I feel was incredibly significant in helping me unwind and release the stress. Especially after exam periods. I feel dance, especially, was necessary for my physical health, forcing me to get off my laptop and my desk and engage in some form of movement. Bollywood enthusiast that I am, I watched many movies throughout the two years, which again enabled me to leave the stress and pressure of school for a solid 3 hours.

Krishav: I think just talking with my brother and friends was something that I found as super effective for relieving exam stress. Also, discussing my studies with them also helped me to self-reflect and see maybe how else I can study more efficiently, or what else I can do to really perform well in the academic year.

Who is your favourite nerd (historical or fictional)?

Drishti: Hermione Granger.

Rishi: The Professor from Money Heist.

Aakriti: Shakuntala Devi is my idol! I’ve been watching videos and documentaries about her from a young age. I’m a maths nerd, so naturally, when I saw her calculating people’s day of birth from their birthdays, I was starstruck.

Aarushi: Rory Gilmore

Krishav: Wouldn’t have any.

Pragati: Shaun Murphy (Good Doctor)

Devika: Seems cliched but maybe Hermione Granger?

Aayush: Probably Spider-Man.

What would your advice to future final year students be?

Aakriti: Find what works best for you. There are so many resources out there that TELL you HOW to study, but not many help you to find what works best you – the latter is so much more fruitful. Focus on yourself and keep working to become the best version of yourself – in Year 12 and in life!

Aarushi: Learning how to balance your time out and take notes according to syllabus points during class in Year 12 – it saves you so much time while revising! But also find a way to make studying seem enjoyable to you so that you can identify and be inspired by your own intrinsic motivation rather than external influences.

Drishti: Decide what you want to be and be focused. Everyone can achieve what they want through perseverance, time management and hard work. Keep talking to your teachers and parents and ask for help if it is required in Year 12. Do things which motivate you. Spend quality time with friends and family whenever feeling low.

Rishi: Use your time wisely and efficiently, and the workload automatically decreases. I was surprised by how much I could achieve in little time when I put my mind to work, leaving more time for breaks and leisure activities. Maximising study time in Year 12 is essential in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed, especially close to exam period, ensuring that the amount of time you spend studying is not so excessive that it negatively impacts your mental health.

Krishav: Work as hard as you can, and learn to accept the fact that such hard work might not necessarily pay off. I believe if you learnt to work hard even when it seems like nothing is going your way, you will achieve feats that are far beyond even your own expectations.

Dixya: Your value doesn’t come from your grades. Work hard for what you want, in whatever field interests you, but also allow yourself breaks, have fun, and spend quality time with the people in your life.

Pragati: Even though it’s easier said than done, take time for yourself to unwind amidst the pressure and stress of tests, exams and assignments. Enjoy the landmark moments of Year 12 such as ball, valedictory, final dances, final dress-up days, because these days will go by quicker than you expect. Surround yourself with the people you love and who genuinely care about you whether that be in terms of your friends or family, and make time for these people amidst your crazy school schedules.

Devika: Throw yourself fully into the year, work hard and be unapologetically dedicated to your goals. But also take the time to enjoy the year; it will be over in the blink of an eye, so enjoy the little moments along the way in Year 12. Take the time to relax and make amazing memories. Have a clear vision and goal of what you want to achieve.

Aayush: All the stress really isn’t worth it in the end and you’re better off trying to make the most of your Year 12 experience by enjoying it as much as you can with all your friends. Also, don’t give up on all your hobbies and extra-curriculars.

Favourite quote from a teacher?

Aayush: “Life’s just going to get tougher from here so just enjoy now while you can.” (English teacher would always say this while teaching us about existentialism and absurdism.)

Aarushi: “Be a sponge and not a brick wall.” (When giving feedback after a test.)

Krishav: None that I remember.

Drishti: “The future depends on what you do today.”

Rishi: “Work hard. It’s worth it.”

Pragati: “I won’t give you extra marks but I’ll give you a scented sticker instead.”

Aakriti: “Do your tie properly.” (Mr Colin Axup)

Describe your final year in three words.

Aayush: Simply the best.

Pragati: Friends. Stress. Gratitude.

Devika: Dynamic. Fulfilling. Busy.

Aakriti: Good. Bad. Chaotic

Krishav: Hard. Tiring. Rewarding.

Rishi: Daunting. Demanding. Fulfilling.

Drishti: Perseverance. Time management. Hard work.

Dixya: Challenging. Exciting. Overwhelming.

Your jersey name

Drishti: Drishdog

Pragati: प्रगती

Rishi: RISH

Aakriti: Aakriti (I asked for ‘quack quack’ but got rejected)

Aayush: Our school didn’t let us have nicknames

What are you most looking forward to in 2024?

Dixya: University life, which encompasses meeting new people, being more independent and self-sufficient, being my own parent, and studying the degree of my dreams.

Aarushi: I’m really looking forward to meeting a new version of myself this year, and being able to create more effective and efficient study patterns and trying to enjoy my last year of high school as much as I can!

Devika: Beginning university and meeting a range of new people from all different walks of life.

Rishi: Having an extended break before starting University as well as a lighter workload, allowing me to spend more time with friends and family.

Drishti: Going to university and meeting new friends.

Krishav: I am really looking forward to tutoring and guiding future students in the subjects of Specialist Mathematics, Mathematical Methods and English. I know some parents and students are looking for tutors, so if you are interested feel free to contact me via Facebook. Another thing I am looking forward to in 2024 is University. I think it will be a new experience for me and I am really excited to get really involved in that whole lifestyle.

Aayush: Definitely meeting new people and making new friends as part of the uni experience.

Pragati: Spending more time with friends amidst navigating university and meeting new people.

Aakriti: Starting university and meeting new people!

READ ALSO: Year 12 2022: Lessons about oneself

Suhayla Sharif
Suhayla Sharif
An emerging yet empowered voice committed to celebrating Australia's kaleidoscope of perspectives through spirited storytelling.

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