Hold on Year 12s, you're almost there!

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Roving reporter Ashlea M dishes the dirt on the dreaded VCE slump.

I bet when you started Year 12 you were really pumped. The last year of school, how hard can it be? I bet you started studying straight away, aimed to have your assignments started the day you got them, and thought this was going to be your best year yet.

But this season of Lost has been too good to miss, all your friends are turning 18, you've got that dreaded cold and you got good marks at the start of the year so you deserve a little rest this time of term.

The slump

Uh oh. You have fallen into 'the slump'. The slump is something I tried so hard to avoid in year 12. It is something you have to fight to stay away from. Your teachers hate it, your parents bug you about it, and whether or not you think it matters, it makes your final scores plummet.

Linda Whitby teaches VCE. She is also an English language assessor for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority and an exam revision presenter for the Victorian Association for Teachers of English. She has suffered the frustration of watching her star students lose focus and motivation towards the business end of the year.

Rather than seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, many Year 12s give up in term two and three. Instead of thinking about how close they are, they feel like they are so far away.

Why does it happen?

Year 12 is an amazing year. Given good results, it can be the break you need to kick-start your chosen career path. It's a year of hard work, high tension, stress and pressure.

Aside from the academics, though, Year 12 is good fun. Lots of photos are taken, lots of memories are made and lots of laughs are had. However, about the same time that the keen 'new' year 12 starts to lose motivation, more distractions pull them further away from their studies.

What are the distractions?

Turning 18, getting your Ps, being able to go to clubs and legally drink - it's not hard to see why study gets put on the backburner during this time.

Aside from the thrill of turning 18, schools usually have formals, dinners, parades and festivals which distract year 12s from their studies. It's hard not to give up when the vibe of your school is telling you that you're almost at the finish line and it's time to party.

As a teacher, Linda understands the reasons why students fall into a hole this time of year. "Nothing 'major' happens in term three - no exams - and it's in the middle of the year, so it's easy to think that exams are ages away," she says.

"It's frustrating because if there's ever a time when working can make a big difference, it's term three."

How can I avoid the slump?

Should we stop the distractions? No way! They are what makes Year 12 the best year of your life. However, it is important to stay focused on what is important.

Linda suggests a list of basic ways to avoid falling into the dreaded slump, including:

  • Having a clear weekly timetable that allows time for everything
  • Setting realistic goals each week
  • Starting a countdown calendar
  • Rewarding yourself when you achieve a goal or set task
  • Working a maximum of 12 hours per week - don't get caught up in needing money

How can I climb out of the slump?

If you think you might already be trapped, here are some handy hints:

  • Acknowledge that you are falling behind and decide what your priorities are
  • Seek help from teachers, family and friends
  • Make lists and take baby steps
  • Build revision time into your weekly study

Remember your goals and ambitions. While it may be tempting to go out to the pub with your mates, spend the night in front of the TV or go for a drive in your new car, there will be plenty of time for that when you finish your studies.

It's worth the effort

If you put in the hard yards for these last few months of Year 12, it will be so much easier to let your hair down when you're done. Schoolies, more eighteenths, formals and summer holidays can be your celebration.

Don't make it a time where you begin to doubt yourself. You may regret not putting in the work when it really counted.