VCE Exams - tips to stay focussed and motivated

‘If you’ve read the same line a million times, maybe it’s time to take a break.’

TAFE graduate Sophie Hornsey knows all about trying to manage the stresses and pressures of preparing for VCE exams. After some trial and error, she discovered how she could keep herself focussed and motivated — and it worked.

Now on the path to a successful career in public relations, Sophie says her biggest study challenge was remaining focussed.

‘I’ll be honest — I’m not the best studier,’ she says.

‘I’m prone to distractions, getting caught up with my Facebook feed or going down a YouTube spiral.

But there’s this great app called SelfControl that you can download to your computer — it blocks all those distracting websites while you study.’

As VCE students across Victoria knuckle down to studying for their end of year exams, Sophie offers a few more tips:

Ask for study advice

‘Ask your friends what works for them, or get advice from teachers – maybe even your parents. It won’t all be right for you, but it’s about trial and error.’

Find you best study time

‘For me it’s the morning, my mind is clear and I’m able to focus. If I have a big assignment due, or need to get ready for exams, I’ll go to bed early so I can devote my morning to a study session.’

Get organised

‘I try to be digitally organised. All of my resources and study material are filed neatly in drives on my computer so I can find them easily.’

Make a study playlist

‘I can’t study when it’s too quiet, so I put on my study playlist to keep me motivated.’

Take a break from study

‘If you’ve read the same line a million times, maybe it’s time to take a break. Better yet, go talk to someone and tell them about what you are studying. It will help you retain more information.’

Revisit topics

‘I remember in high school, the temptation was to do the study the same day of the class. If you can, take a day or two to digest what you learned, and make sure you revisit topics a few times before the exam.’

Find what works for you

‘Test things out, find what works for you and stick with it. Do this now and you’ll be set for life!’

Drink lots of water

‘I sound like a parent, but drink lots of water and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee when you need a lift – just stay hydrated while you’re in the study bubble.’

To snack, or not to snack…
‘If I have snacks on my desk, they act as a distraction, but some of my friends are all about the snacking, it keeps them sitting still. Just try to listen to your parents and go for something healthy —too much sugar and you won’t be able to focus.”

Explore your options

Once you have made it through VCE, Sophie says it’s important to keep all options open.

She says if your first choice doesn’t feel right, it isn’t too late try something else.

‘The most important thing is to remember that there are so many opportunities out there once you’ve finished high school and moved into your next stage of education,’ she says.

‘I didn’t click with university at first. I thought about changing to public relations, but the university I was studying at didn’t offer it as a major.  

‘Instead of giving up, I decided to switch to RMIT’s Advanced Diploma of Business in Public Relations as a taste-test.

‘The hands-on method was great — I learn a lot better that way.

‘At the end of the course, I applied for the Bachelor of Communication with a major in Public Relations at RMIT and my TAFE study meant that I started in second year.

‘It’s worth thinking about the more practical and hands-on options available through Victoria’s TAFE providers, which can be anything from hospitality to computer engineering.’

For more information, see: TAFE Victoria