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Exam Preparation, Study Tips, and the Value of Assessment

Friday 17th March 2023

Going through exams and assessments is something almost all students will have to face in some way or another while they are at school. Early in the school year, as we are now, that may not be at the forefront of your mind as a student, but the best way to handle exams is to be prepared early with top study tips.

While we don’t want to alarm you too early or make you think that you need to start stressing out, often the earlier you can get a jump on your exam preparation the better. To help you handle those big tests with comfort and confidence, we’ve put together some of our best study tips for exams.

The importance of assessment

While they may be one of the least enjoyable aspects of education for students, regular assessments play an important role in learning. Assessments inform what students need to focus on, what their learning strengths and weaknesses are, and how best they can approach future assessments, while also giving them an opportunity to express their knowledge and demonstrate their skills. 

School assessment in particular plays three key roles:

While assessments alone can be daunting, when they are combined with helpful feedback, encouragement, and an approach built around gaining knowledge more than getting good grades, they can be deeply helpful as a learning tool. 

Tips to study effectively

Effective revision and exam preparation techniques are what give you the capacity to enter any assessment with confidence and assurance that you are ready to go. Need some inspiration on how to start studying? Our helpful study tips are designed to help give you the best chance to succeed in your learning and assessments. 

Create a study plan

Early in the year, it can be useful to map out when all your major assessments will be so you can prepare in advance and go in ready. Your teachers should be able to give you an idea of when SACs and other assessments will be. Consider making a calendar and keeping it in a place you regularly see so you’re always aware of what’s upcoming and when. It may sound simple, but it’s actually one of the best study tips for students.

For our VCE students, the VCE exam timetable is typically released around May, beginning for most students with the VCE English exam. Add each of the exams for your subjects to your calendar. Remember, beginning your preparations in good time will help you to manage the different stresses of this period.

Start practising and testing yourself early 

Putting the concepts and knowledge you’re learning in the classroom to the test is what will help it stay more firmly in your memory. Test yourself by reviewing the content and actively attempting to comprehend it. This could include writing it in your own words, asking questions and considering how it might be useful in other situations — these useful study tips lead to more recall and understanding than pure repetition of information.

One of the best ways to check what you know is to do trial exams and past papers. Working on these helps you to understand the type of questions you may face on an actual exam, and how to respond to them. Don’t treat trial exams or practice questions like the real thing, though; they aren’t about getting a perfect grade, but rather understanding what you know really well, and what you can still work on.

Seek feedback and collaboration

Another impactful way to learn is to collaborate with others, testing each other and asking one another questions to help clarify information. Group study and talking with others can also help expose new perspectives and deepen the content’s importance and applicability, while also promoting greater motivation for exam preparation in students.

Augment this too with regular feedback from teachers to ensure you are always going in the right direction. They can also help you create a strategy for approaching an exam and particular types of questions.

Optimise your personal study space

Effective exam study isn’t just about the strategies you use — it’s also about the environment you’re in. Your study space should be comfortable, adequately lit and free from most distractions. This doesn’t mean it has to be completely private though; many people thrive working in more collaborative and open settings. 

Many people also benefit from regularly using the same spaces to study, which can train their brain to focus on studying and not on other distractions or responsibilities. Try to have all the different things you need ready to go in those environments so you can settle in, but also remember to take breaks and reward yourself for positive study.

Why is exam preparation important?

Exam time is a stressful time — particularly the VCE exam schedule — but preparing can give you more peace and greater confidence throughout that. To make it better for you, these are the main reasons we think effective preparation and exam strategies are key:

Ready to go

We know it’s still early in the year, but taking time to consider your exam preparation and making some positive steps will only lead to benefits when it comes to crunch time. These aren’t just study tips for year 12 students either — anyone can make use of these ideas to improve their revision.

Use the important study tips and advice we’ve laid out to improve your exam preparation. Whether it’s a VCE exam, a class test, an assignment or a project, your teachers and our wellbeing staff are always here to support you.