“How do you get through Year 12? The same way you’d eat an elephant. One bite at a time.” Famous last words by some famous person, who probably didn’t really think about how you’d actually go about doing that.

It’s kind of like saying ‘study smart, not hard’. How do you do that? And shouldn’t you be studying pretty hard, too?

Well, easier said than done. Especially when what was already meant to be a tough and trying year turned into one of the most trying years in recent history.

Sometimes, all we need to get through is a little advice from those who have made it out the other side. Sure, these uni students didn’t complete Year 12 amid a worldwide health crisis, but good advice is good advice. 

Meet Tanya

A self-confessed nerd (the Never-Ending Radical Dame type) who balanced hitting the books in Year 12 with a healthy party life. She’s now smashing a Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) (Honours). And here’s her advice on running the VCE gauntlet.

My most reliable tip: lunch club

In Year 12, my friends and I started a lunch group. We’d work on a homework problem together, or do our own study for a solid 20 minutes. Then, we’d chat, chill and eat. It was a great way to de-stress. Sometimes we weren’t even that productive, but we felt like if we didn’t show up we’d be letting the team down. I couldn’t have survived without them.

My weirdest tip: let loose

I danced a lot growing up but in Year 12, I couldn’t fit it in with study. So, when I felt my concentration fading – I’d let loose. I’d get up from my desk, throw on FISHER’s Losing it and just dance like crazy until the song ended. My family thought I was a complete lunatic – but the energy boost got me through some tough times. 

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Meet Trent

You know someone’s a proud farm boy when they set up a community chicken coop at their on-campus residence. With a mum for a teacher, Trent struggled to get up to mischief in Year 12. Instead he balanced sports and wholesome hobbies with study (at least that’s what he told us) so he could get into civil engineering at Swinburne. Here’s how he survived that last year of school.

My most reliable tip: practice exams

Sit at your desk and get ready for the pain. Exams are like a sport – if you don’t train, you won’t be any good on match day. So, replicate those match day conditions – lob your phone out the window, find a way to mute your family (respectfully), and pull out that practice exam.

My weirdest tip: stave off gout

Every morning, without fail, I’d pour myself a little apple cider vinegar. It’s a far cry from OJ but apple cider vinegar to me was like spinach is to Popeye – though instead of giving me watermelon shaped forearms it just set me up for the school day. DISCLAIMER: ACV is not pixie dust – at best, it’ll do no harm, just don’t drink a bucket of it. And, if you’re actually worried about gout, don’t drink ACV. See a doctor. 

Meet Drew

When he was in Year 12, Drew was yet another VCE student trying to escape the soul-destroying confines of high school. But, it’s worked out well for him and now he’s living the dream doing a Bachelor of Arts (Professional) majoring in Games and Interactivity. So how did he get through VCE?

My most reliable tip: eye on the prize

Uni is where you shift up through the gears of life and find your people – I was keen to get a head start on that. I challenged myself to meet new people to break up hours of study. I’d do things like see local bands, join a running group, or attend meetings for the Vegan Burger and Fries Appreciation Society (okay, I didn’t join the running club). By looking forward to life at uni, I could justify the hours of study that would get me there.

My weirdest tip: hide from the grind (sometimes)

Sometimes, you just need a little escape. I used to play cello in my school orchestra and couldn’t stand it. One day, I decided to skip a performance … by hiding in my cello case. Small flaw – I’m extremely tall, so my legs stuck out. Solution – I pulled the mascot costume over my legs so people would assume the costume had been dumped inside the case. Result – a nice quiet half hour to myself. 

The best, we’ve saved for last. It’s our number one tip and it comes from Tanya.

Get some paper and scrawl the ATAR you want on it. Stick that paper on the wall in front of your study desk. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated so it felt like I had no reason to succeed. But, I realised I wanted to get an ATAR I was proud of. I figured out what that number would be and it motivated me every time I sat down at my desk. I ended up getting the exact ATAR I had written down. (No joke).

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