Updated: Sep 10, 2021
It’s that time of the year and you are probably wondering, how many practice exams is considered ‘enough’? Or, how many practice exams should I do to keep up with my peers? Well, let me ask you a question...how much have you absorbed from sitting down and doing a timed practice exam? Was it worth your time? I definitely had the mindset going into Year 12 that practice makes perfect, and the more practice exams I did, I would be more confident for the exam. However, this eventually led to complete burnout and it didn’t help the cause at all. So I changed my mindset and this is what I did.
Less is more!
You may have heard some people doing one practice exam a night in the leadup to exams and by exam time, they would have done every single exam from 1999 to 2020...While this works for some people, and ideally, you should find the method that works best for you, doing this really burnt me out. So for HHD, I did a total of 2 timed practice exams leading up to exam day...yep only 2. My goal for doing those 2 exams was to really work on my time management skills, and to develop how I answered the questions. I found that by doing one exam a night, I struggled to even correct them before doing the next one, and I couldn’t really track my progress. By doing a total of 2 exams, I gave myself sufficient time to reflect on how I felt and how confident I was, ask for feedback from my teacher and to improve in the next practice exam. I also was able to determine gaps in my knowledge by doing the practice exam, and by only doing 2, I gave myself enough time to work on what I wasn’t confident with before I did another practice exam. Especially because I was doing 3 other subjects as well as HHD, doing only 2 exams saved me a substantial amount of time too!
Focus on your weaknesses
Instead of doing full practice exams, I really tried to gauge my strengths and weaknesses. I usually just skipped over the one-marker ‘identify’ questions, while I really worked on the extended response 8-10-marker questions. I aimed to complete an extended response question every few days, and set up a session with my teacher so she could mark it and give me feedback to improve on the next extended response question I completed. I found this really effective in tracking my progress and with words of encouragement and support from my teacher, I was able to really build my confidence in the leadup to the exam, without having to sit down and do 10+ practice exams.
Seek help from your teacher
I was generally a really quiet student during high school, and I was one of those who would be really scared to put my hand up in class to ask questions. If you are like me, then I really feel you! But there are ways around this. I always asked for help via emails or privately with my teacher and you can do that too. Personally, I found it really difficult to correct my own practice exams and the questions that I did by just relying on the examiner’s report, because responses in HHD are really subjective, and there are so many different answers to one question. So I found it best to ask my teacher to mark the exams for me. Teachers are very knowledgeable and experienced in marking exam papers, so they will definitely know what advice to provide so I used my teacher whenever I could!
Don’t burn out!!
So from my past experiences of burning out and really feeling the pressure, I learnt that sometimes, doing less means you could be absorbing more and essentially, be effectively helping your learning more. I was aware of what I needed to improve on, and the resources available to me to help me improve in those areas.
Final note, please look after yourselves! Work smarter, not harder :
Have a question?
In the final weeks before exams Martina 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 Martina might answer it live