Your Year 11 IA exam block for the QCE is most likely the first time you’ve had a big exam block for all your subjects, so it can be a stressful experience.
Since you’re being tested on Units 1 & 2 and they are summative units, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that all that matters is that you pass. Even though your actual marks won’t matter in the long run, making the most of your Year 11 IA exam block as a learning experience will.
It will prepare you for the structure and strictness of your Year 12 EA exam block but without the pressure of your ATAR being at stake. But how exactly do you approach it?
Keep reading to discover our key tips and strategies for preparing for Your Year 11 IA exam block!
Study Approach for the Year 11 QCE Exams
#1: Have short, frequent study sessions
Prior to Year 11, you would have only been tested on one term’s worth of content at a time, if not less.
For the Year 11 IA Exam Block, however, you will be required to recall, manipulate, and apply information that you first learned up to 3-4 terms earlier. This means that cramming the night before the exam will not work anymore!
Instead, utilise shorter, more frequent study sessions to improve the chances of the information depositing in your long-term memory. Along with this, ensure to go back and revise earlier topics throughout the year to consolidate your knowledge.
#2: Keep up to date with your note taking
If you fall behind, try to catch up sooner rather than later. This same principle applies for any other activities your teacher may have assigned to solidify your knowledge, such as worksheets, mind-maps and posters.
Whenever possible, try to hand write your notes, especially for content heavy subjects. This will improve your ability to recall information!
#3: Revisit topics you’ve covered after school
Review what you covered at school each day after coming home to consolidate your knowledge and identify any gaps you may have.
Ideally, review each concept within 1 hour of learning it, again within 24 hours of learning it, and then again within 1 week of learning it. This method also drastically improves active recall abilities.
#4: Figure out what kind of learner you are
Are you more of an auditory learner? Or maybe you’re more of a physical learner? Identifying what kind of learner you are can help you develop more tailored learning and study strategies.
If you’re not sure what kind of learner you are, see which style you identify with here!
#5: Have a designated study space
Ensure that you have a neat, quiet and stable study space to work in. Limit distractions in this area, whether that’s other people, your phone, or just unnecessary amounts of clutter.
Having this designated space in which you routinely complete your school-related tasks is incredibly helpful!
Assuming that you only use the space for study, your brain will start to associate it with study, and it will be easier for you to ‘enter the zone’ when you’re in your designated study space.
Avoid studying in places like your bed or dining table, as those areas already have associated behaviours and you really don’t want to be thinking about your homework while you’re trying to fall asleep!
#6: Teach others!
Teaching a concept to a fellow classmate, friend, or family member helps to reinforce what you know as well as identify any gaps.
How to Manage Your Time Well
Step 1: Identify your hours of productivity
If you know your optimal work time is between 4-6pm for example, manage your tasks around this so that your more cognitively demanding tasks can be completed during this time. Leave the easier tasks for when your brain might not be as switched on.
Also, be realistic about how much work you can get done in a certain amount of time. Setting high standards for yourself is good, but make sure they aren’t unrealistic, as this will leave you feeling disappointed and decrease your motivation.
Step 2: Create a weekly study timetable
Of course, things come up in life and you’re not always able to stick to the plan! However, it is important to have a general guide for yourself.
Here’s an example of how you might begin to setup your timetable:
How much study you need to do for each subject is different for every student. If you know you struggle with Maths Methods, for example, make sure to block off more study time for that, as tempting as it can be to just work on your favourite subject.
Make sure to account for other things in your timetable such as relaxation time, social time, exercise, and others!
Step 3: Have a to-do list
Aside from your study schedule, having a to-do list can be majorly helpful. Use this list to make note of any errands or admin tasks you have to do, such as to print your assignment, send your teacher an email, or remember to wear formal uniform next Monday.
Generally, if the task can be done in 5 minutes or less, it’s best to get it over and done with so you don’t have to worry about it. But if that’s not possible, always make a note ASAP, as this will make sure you don’t forget.
It can be super satisfying to cross things off once you’ve accomplished them, even if they’re small things. And ultimately, accomplishing the small things will boost your motivation to accomplish the big goals you have!
Step 4: Utilise class time as much as possible
This is especially crucial if you have other commitments such as a part-time job or sports practices that you know will take up your time outside of school.
So don’t just tell yourself if you’re confused about a concept being taught that you’ll try to wrap your head around it after class. Use the time you have with your teacher to ask these questions and clarify things!
Revising Content for the Year 11 QCE Exams
#1: Not all topics and subjects need the same amount of focus
When you’ve covered all the content and the time comes to revise, remember that you don’t have to give every topic and subject that same amount of attention.
Content heavy subjects (generally the Maths and Science subjects) generally require more effort, but it can be different for everyone. It can be very tempting to work on topics and subjects you know you’re good at, but this won’t improve your skills or knowledge in the areas you’re struggling with.
#2: Get exposure to practice exams
It is super important that you attempt at least one practice exam per subject in true exam conditions before your Year 11 IA Exam Block. You may feel that you are capable, however, when the elements of time pressure, complete silence, and 1.5-2 hours of pure concentration are added, things can be very different.
The point of replicating the exams is so that you know exactly what to expect going into the examination room — no surprises and no distractions from doing your best.
#3: Familiarise yourself with cognitive verbs
Cognitive verbs are the specific words or phrases in questions that tell exactly how you need to answer them. So, it’s pretty important that you know what they mean since these words are used in exam questions!
If you want to know more about cognitive verbs and their meanings, check out the QCAA Glossary of Cognitive Verbs here!
Maintaining Your Wellbeing
Tip #1: Make sure you are well rested leading up to the exam
Not only is understanding the content important, but so is being in a good mindset.
In the weeks leading up to the exam, try to focus a little more on improving your mental and physical health as well as your emotional wellbeing. These factors can be just as significant for your exams as knowing the content.
Ways to be in your best shape for the exams include getting better sleep, meditating, spending quality time with friends and family, reminding yourself of your goals, exercising, eating nutritious food and doing whatever else relaxes and energises you.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to ask for support
Ask your friends, teachers, parents or school for support when you need it and remember to check in with your friends too.
Remember that you aren’t alone as you go through your QCE journey, and your support network is there to help you!
Tip #3: Check your exam timetable and prepare the night before
Be aware of when each of your exams are and make a list of what you will need for each of them (pencils, pens, calculator etc.). Be especially mindful if you have more than one exam in one day — ensure you are organised and take what you need for both exams!
At the latest, have everything prepared and in your bag the night before each exam, so that there is one less thing to stress about on the exam days.
Are you looking for some extra help with your Year 11 QCE exams?
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We’ve supported over 8,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 20%!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational QCE tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!
Yalindi Binduhewa is an Art of Smart tutor based in Queensland and was part of the very first cohort to go through the ATAR system, so she knows exactly how fun and enjoyable it can be. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Medical Imaging (Honours) at QUT and is loving it. When she’s not doing uni-related stuff or tutoring, she’s hanging out with her friends, rewatching a show for the 100th time, or trying out new crafty projects and discovering that she doesn’t have a talent for everything.