Surviving year 12

To all the Year 12s currently going crazy on SWOTVAC

So you’ve just hit SWOTVAC and the countdown is on. The English exam is within a week’s reach and you’re  trapped in the midst of this ticking-time bomb in which you have to cram as much knowledge into your brain as possible. Not to mention, you’re stuck in the awkward rut that is SWOTVAC.

This study vacation week before exams is one of the most frazzling and frantic periods of the whole year. The reason is because it’s a bit of a brainteaser. You’ve had graduation, received your high school certificate, went ballistic on muck up day and fled the school gates. But just before you think it’s all over, it hits you like a ton of bricks that well, it’s actually not. Coming from a massive high, SWOTVAC pulls you right back down, giving you the reality check that you haven’t quite passed the finish line.

I’m not going to lie, Year 12 is a pressure cooker. You’re under the fire most of the year and the exam period is the boiling point. It’s almost like an education-based version of Masterchef. And being home all day, every day on SWOTVAC can drive you a bit nuts. I for one know that I ate way too much microwavable macaroni and cheese, binged on chocolate and watched countless daytime television shows. My advice to get through the final sprint is to plan.

1.      Make a study timetable You may be thinking nothing ever goes to plan – so why bother planning out your time. The thing is plans visually allow you to see how much time you actually have and can afford to spend on each subject. Draw out a quick study plan for each day of the week that details the amount of time you are going to work on each subject. That way you’ll know you have dedicated a sufficient amount of time to each subject – and you won’t get to day five and think ‘I still have to fit in math and science revision’ or ‘damn I forgot about learning those health definitions!’ Plus you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable studying, knowing you have planned ahead and set aside time for other content. Otherwise you may just be fidgeting like a Mexican jumping bean in your desk chair, agitated and paranoid.

2.      Don’t punish yourself While you are under the grill, it’s important to take some time out to chill. You’ve been at the books all day, or you’re just in one of those moods where you feel like collapsing on the couch and doing bugger all. We’ve all had those days and even though you may be wiring yourself with self-discipline to stay focused, sometimes you have to let loose. Be kind and reward yourself, sometimes going to that party you’ve been desperately looking forward to or spending the night watching The Bachelorette will do you a lot more good than it will harm.

 3.      Stick to routine Keep to a routine as normal as possible during SWOTVAC. If you have netball training at 4, still go to practice. If you usually work at Safeway on Saturday mornings, go to work. No doubt studying is a priority, but it doesn’t mean that it should take over your life. Try to maintain a balance and stick to a regular routine, that way you won’t feel as stressed or anxious about what lies ahead.

4.      Exercise and spend time outdoors Your brain hurts from studying and it feels like you’ve been cooped up inside like a hermit crab under house arrest for the last few days. It’s important to take a step outside, get some fresh air and see the light. Try going for a walk during the day, or taking part in some sport – exercise is a great stress reliever. During my long SWOTVAC days I stood outside at lunchtimes. I must admit, it did feel a bit weird standing outside in my backyard and staring into space. But I think you need to remind yourself that you’re not glued to the desk and stuck inside. Being amongst the nature also has quite a calming and peaceful effect.

Crossing the finish line is a bittersweet moment. You’re free from the pressure of study and exams, but your six year long journey, with all the friendships and memories combined has ended. But the feeling you get when the examiner calls ‘pens down’ in your last exam is without a doubt the most profound moment. The classroom of silence erupts into a shriek of chaos and you realise you’ve finally reached the end.

Good luck to all Year 12 students as they embark on exams.

Words: Chanel Zagon

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