Top 20 Tips for Studying in the VCE;
- Have a quiet work area free from interruption.
- Set yourself goals. (Short term, medium term and long term).
- Keep a record of all work that is required and when it is required in the student diary.
- Begin work when it is set and work consistently from that time. Allow enough time to complete each task.
- Make a list of priorities so you know which tasks come first.
- Organise your time so that nothing is left to the last minute. If you have large amounts of work to learn, break it up into chunks of information and use highlighters for each section to help them stand out.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. This could potentially lead to student depression, through unreasonable comparison to high achieving students.
- Find your own best study method.
- Don’t stress too much.
- Make a plan of your study schedule.
- Relaxation: smartphone apps like Smiling Mind can help.
- Time management: try making a list of activities and prioritise.
- Connecting with others: sharing your worries with others can ease the burden.
- Reserve some time to do the things you enjoy or help you maintain your wellbeing.
- Write your worries down before going to bed so you can work on some solutions the next day, and do a relaxing activity for about 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Get up after 15-20 minutes if you can’t sleep rather than staying in bed, feeling restless, and resist the urge to worry in the quiet time before going to sleep.
- Do some form of exercise or activity each day.
- Move distractions from homework and study, such as social media.
- Get support, such as speaking to a study advisor, or counsellor.
- Remember your goals, and reasons for study, to increase motivation, for example; to get into your course of choice.
The Most Important Element; Motivation
It is often thought that the key to achieving a high atar is hard work and effort; one of the most important elements in achieving highly in the VCE, however, is choosing subjects that the student is genuinely interested in. Interest is highly related to motivation in psychology. Therefore working hard on a subject which is interesting, is not then regarded as hard work.
The Role of Stress in Behaviour
Also as important is the students’ relationship with and response to stress. To avoid the onset of stress, it is necessary to balance study activities with a certain amount of relaxation and leisure. For example, attending Meditation sessions, sometimes available in universities, can provide a balanced lifestyle, and the practice of yoga and dance can relax physical muscles, leading to a feeling of physical as well as mental relaxation during study.
The Relationship Between Short and Long Term Memory
Study habits should include use of short and long term memory. In order for facts to process deeply and be retained in long term memory it is necessary to rehearse the facts or information, and to deeply process them. The practice of writing down and thinking about the facts is an effective means of remembering information long term, as the information is passed from short term to long term memory.
Emotions and Seasonal Affective Disorder
Motivation is a very important part of learning, and influenced heavily by mood, and emotion. Students are most motivated at the beginning of the year, when the weather is still sunny, and warm. They are well rested by the holidays, and therefore have more energy to focus on facts and details, and completing necessary homework and assignments. However much of the VCE year is during the winter months, when it is nearing the criticial examination time, and major assignments become due. It is important for students to become aware of the influence of weather on emotions, and be prepared for a drop in levels of drive and motivation. During the winter season where there are low levels of light, serotonin, a critical mood regulating hormone, is reduced, and students are vulnerable to mood changes. It is important for students to be aware of and to recognise these changes, and to adjust their study habits to counterbalance them.
Types of Study Required by Particular Subjects
It is also important to recognise differences in the way subjects are studied and learnt. For example, some subjects rely on retainment of facts via the practice of rote learning, rather than the use of reasoning and logical thinking. For example, Legal Studies involves memorisation of rules and regulations, which are not necessarily based on logic. This kind of study requires rote learning and paying attention to facts in order to properly memorise them. Other subjects such as English, allow more writing of opinions, supported by evidence, so that logical thinking is more permitted in the structure of writing, and expression of ideas in non fiction. The study of foreign languages is less based on debate and logic, but the learning of grammatical rules, retention of vocabulary and the relationship between sounds and words. Different subjects require different approaches in study and learning.