How often should you be doing practice exams? In my preparation for the PE exam, and just for VCE more broadly, I found that it was important to keep on top of all my subjects by doing something for each of them regularly. For me, I aimed to do 2-3 practice exams for each subject per week. This was not always what I achieved. Sometimes, when I was tired or stressed or overwhelmed, I gave myself a break and had a rest. This was really important for me to make sure that I was taking care of myself as well as my revision and to avoid feeling overworked or burnt out in the lead up to exams.
Especially during Term 4, when you’re back at school and trying to balance classes with revision, it can be really difficult to find the time and energy to do full practice exams. During these few weeks, I found that it was best to be kind to myself and just do parts of practice exams rather than full timed ones after school.
How do you know when you’ve done enough practice exams? This was a big concern of mine when I was preparing for the PE exam, and something that I think everyone worries about. How many practice exams should I be doing? How many are other people doing? Am I doing enough? In this week’s blog, I wanted to talk you through some of the things that I realised during my exam preparation which might be able to help you figure out how you’re going.
The most important thing to understand is that there is no magic number of practice exams that you should do or that everyone else is doing. Everyone is different, everyone works differently and has access to different resources and different advice. In my experience, I imagined a number of practice exams that I would like to do based on how many exams I had available. I’m sure you also have a vague number in your mind that you think would be a good number of practice exams to do before the actual exam- this number will be different for everyone. This number that you imagine can be useful in terms of giving you confidence and making you feel like you’ve achieved the level of readiness that you wanted to before your exam. However, this number is also not that important. During preparation for exams, things come up, things take longer than you expected them to, sometimes you don’t get all the work done that you had planned. It’s important to be okay with what you manage to do, with the amount of work you get done, you’re doing your best and it is good enough!
However, for me in my preparation, there was a moment that came in all of my subjects when I sensed that I was finished with doing practice exam after practice exam. This doesn’t mean that I stopped revising or attempting practice questions, just that I stepped back a little bit, took stock of what I had done and reflected on what I wanted to do going forward in my revision.
This sense of being ‘done’ with practice exams came for me when I opened a new practice exam and all of the questions looked familiar. The great thing about VCE and about PE more specifically, is that the same types of questions tend to come up in similar ways year after year. The content for PE can only be tested in a certain variety of ways, so it’s inevitable that, as you work through your pile of practice exams, you come across questions that are similar to ones you have done before. This doesn’t mean that every question on an exam is familiar to you, but that, when flipping through, you know how to answer nearly every question on the paper. This indicated to me that I had reached a point where I was comfortable with practice exams.
This moment wasn’t always a great revelation, sometimes it happened slowly. And usually it occurred quite late in my revision- one to two weeks before the exam.
So, where to from here? When you think that you have become comfortable and confident with practice exams there are a few things that you can do.
Obviously, you want to keep working through some practice exams, don’t stop altogether.
But, during this time, I also found that I liked to plan answers to exam questions that were familiar to me, just dot-pointing where each of the marks were coming from- and still checking my answers to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything!
I also sought out some really difficult questions by focusing on and attempting in full some questions towards the end of exam papers, which are generally more difficult. You can also look up VCE PE most difficult questions and have a go. Ask your teacher to find you some really challenging questions as well.
Another activity that I started to implement was writing some of my own questions. If there was an area I felt I wasn’t quite as confident in, I would write a question targeting that area- often using some data I found on the internet. Trying to answer your own question and figure out how many marks it is worth and where those marks come from is really challenging and can give you a useful insight into mark allocation.
I also did many, many multiple-choice questions whenever I had a spare 20 minutes or so, which was helpful in reminding me of some areas of content and also in preparing me to read and answer the multiple-choice section confidently. I actually found that in my final exam for PE there were multiple-choice questions that I had done before in checkpoints books and on edrolo.
Hopefully this advice gives you some idea of where your revision is heading and what you can plan to accomplish in the weeks leading up to your exam! Next week we’ll talk about how to approach the actual exam day! Take care. Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Jo will be hosting 2 Live Q&A sessions to help everyone get fully prepared for exams. If you have a question on how to best get prepared, have been stuck on an exam question or want to clarify an area of content send it through here, and Jo might answer it live!