BlogStudyHow to Study Consistently Across 4 Weeks for External Exams for QCAA

How to Study Consistently Across 4 Weeks for External Exams for QCAA

QCE External Exams - Students Studying Together

So, you have 4 weeks left to study for all of your QCAA external exams! You may be thinking, “Man, I really don’t know where to start”, or “How am I meant to study?”

And, these thoughts are totally justified. After all, you have never had to sit an external exam, so it is a completely new experience.

Within this article, I will share my key study tips for the 4 weeks leading up to the exterrnal exams. Let’s get started!

How to Study for All of Your Subjects
Time Management
Staying Motivated
Making Use of Idle Time

How to Study for All of Your Subjects

I remember getting to the end of Year 12 and thinking… Oh, no… I had 6 subjects to study for and so little time to do it in.

What should I do first? Physics? Psych? How about Bio? Wait, no, maybe Methods? The hardest part for me was just getting started. 

Oftentimes this is generally how it goes, right? Getting started on an assignment seems like an impossible task, but once you get going and you’re in the zone, the task becomes a lot less challenging and a lot less daunting.

The same goes with general study. What helps with assignment writing is that we generally have with us a plan of attack before we start writing — so, why shouldn’t it be the same for exam preparation?

#1: Make a plan of attack

Before you even start studying, I encourage you to make and plan out how you are going to study. This will make your life so much easier.

After all, most of you will be taking 6 subjects — that’s a lot of content to get through. So by making a plan before you start, you will make the task seem more achievable (this helps with maintaining motivation too!). 

There are a few things you may want to ask yourself when making a plan of attack, these are:

Questions to ask yourself for Exam Prep

By asking yourself these questions, you figure out where to focus your efforts over the 4 weeks. Now, you can structure your plan of attack based on how you are feeling about each of your subjects, and the tasks you want to get done (tasks could include practice essays/exams, touching up on sections of the textbook, reviewing flashcards, etc.). 

I would encourage you to start by catching up on anything you’ve missed out on. So, this means:

Next, I would start to study for the subjects that you are least confident in. Then, as the external exams get closer, I would focus on the exams that are the closest. 

While you are studying, keep in mind the tasks that you want to get done. I would encourage that, for maths and science subjects, you complete practice papers in the 1-2 weeks leading up to the exam. 

If you’re looking for past papers, you can check out a whole bunch here!

#2: Contact students who have previously taken your subjects

This is an underrated tip! I would encourage everyone reading this to reach out to students who have previously taken your subjects (if you can find them on Instagram or Facebook, shoot them a polite message).

You don’t have to do this for all of your subjects, but if there is one that you are particularly struggling with or just don’t know how to study for then reaching out and asking for some guidance is a fantastic way to go. 

Students who have previously taken the subject have a wealth of knowledge. While they may not be able to tell you what will be on your exam, they can give you any tips and tricks they may have and key things to look out for in the exam, as well as general study tips. 

Time Management

Clock on study desk

Managing your time in the 4 weeks leading up to your external exams will be key. There will be a lot to do, so getting through each task efficiently and effectively will be crucial to your success.

When I was preparing for my exams, I found it really helpful to limit my day to only 2 subjects. I would do Methods and Physics on one day, Religion and English on another, and then Bio and Psych on their own day.

This meant I could split my day into two blocks and give myself a couple key tasks for each subject that I wanted to get through. 

For example, on a Methods and Physics day I might’ve made a list like this:

Methods10:00-10:30am: Review differentiation rules

10:30-11:00am: Review confidence intervals

11:30am-1:30pm: Complete practice paper 1
Physics3:00-3:30pm: Review electrostatics

3:30-4:00pm: Review the photoelectric effect

4:30-6:30pm: Complete practice paper 1

As you can see, you have the morning and evening off to do whatever you want (hopefully getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep!!) and you get plenty of breaks throughout the day. Now, these time restrictions aren’t hard restrictions.

For example, if I was really struggling with differentiation after the 30 minutes, I might move onto confidence intervals and potentially go back to differentiation if I had got my confidence up in CIs. Also, you may find that you complete a practice paper faster than expected and that is cool too!

The key things about managing your time are:

  • Knowing what you want to achieve with your time (hence why making a plan is essential)
  • Having time for fun. 

It is important that you still get to enjoy life in the 4 weeks leading up to your exams. I would recommend giving yourself at least one day off a week where you can just have fun and get a break from studying.

I also wouldn’t study first thing in the morning and late in the evening — let yourself have a bit of fun to start and end the day. 

Staying Motivated

You got this message board

Potentially one of the greatest challenges you’ll face throughout Grade 12, particularly in the lead up to your external exams, is maintaining motivation. In moments where motivation is low, it helps to take a step back and look at the broader picture.

Remind yourself of what your goals are and the reason you are studying. If there is a particular degree you want to get into, think about that.

If there is a certain subject score you want to get, think about that. It helps to make goals at the start of the year that you can think about when you need a motivation boost. 

Other ways to help you stay motivated are to:

  • Ensure you have time for the fun things in life
  • Get enough sleep and take plenty of study breaks
  • Study in fun and engaging ways
  • Rewarding yourself for your efforts 

Make sure you’ve covered all bases with this Term 3 Essential Resource Guide for the QCE!

Making Use of Idle Time

Believe it or not, you can make use of a lot more time than you may think. Who says you can’t do some passive study while eating lunch or in the car to school?

One way that I like to make use of this time is through watching educational YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. Further, you could even record yourself reading your notes so that you can listen to it while doing chores.

Another thing you can do is stick key notes up around your house (e.g. have laminated notes in the shower, have notes in the bathroom, have notes in the kitchen), this way you can review notes while doing pretty much anything. 

Looking for other QCAA resources?

Check out some of our other articles related to the QCAA below:

Are you looking for some extra help with preparing for your QCAA external exams?

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Katelyn Smith was a pioneer in the Queensland ATAR system. After graduating in 2020 with an ATAR of 98.40, she now studies a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at The University of Queensland — majoring in Physics. Through her studies, she hopes to develop a greater appreciation for how the wonders of the universe work. When she isn’t slaving away behind her unnecessarily large textbooks, she enjoys catching up with friends, scrolling mindlessly through TikTok, and sleeping.

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