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From stress to success - how to help your child navigate exam prep

VCE preparations are in full swing and as exams and assessments get closer, how can you help your child navigate the next few months?

NEWS 27 Sept 2023

Around this time of year, things become more serious for thousands of students across Victoria who are sitting VCE assessments and exams. For most young people, this is the final stage in a school journey that began in ELC and Prep.

Parents and carers play a pivotal role in helping young people cope with the pressures. Here, some of Haileybury’s most experienced teachers share their tips on how you can help your child navigate VCE time.

Clare Mackie – Head of English (Senior School) and Head of Literature 1&2 for Haileybury Pangea

  • Remember that the VCE is a marathon with a sprint at the end. Try and maintain a steady pace throughout the year and, like any finely tuned athlete, students need to approach their study in a calm and methodical manner with a clear study plan and routines.
  • Sleep is critical – national guidelines recommend eight to 10 hours a night. Nutrition and hydration are also important and so is finding time to exercise for about 25 minutes a day.
  • Remind your child that the pressure of VCE can feel isolating and their teachers are there to support them. If they lose some motivation, meeting with a teacher can really help.
  • Ask your child what they are learning and encourage them to teach you the concepts they are grappling with. Read the novel, play or poetry they are studying so you can be a sounding board for ideas, or help with vocabulary building if they are studying a language.
  • For English students, go back to texts and read them again and if you are studying a film, watch it again.
  • Use different essay prompts, such as writing a full-length response or a dot point plan.
  • Understand the marking criteria for each section of the exam and use the resources available on Canvas to hone strategies to improve your mark per section.
  • Establish small study groups to read each other’s essays or to discuss ideas and interpret the texts.

Maud Fugier-Sola - Head of French

  • Encourage students to compile a well-organised checklist and to stick to a well-structured revision timetable to stay motivated and show progress.
  • Digital countdowns are handy tools to help keep track of study milestones.
  • Create a quiet, technology-free space at home where children can study and simulate exam conditions.
  • Meditation, walks, adequate sleep, and sharing conversations and meals shared as a family help preserve mental wellbeing during this time.
  • Regular individual and small group revision sessions are an opportunity to get clarification from teachers and to stay on top of crucial knowledge and skills.
  • Prioritise daily practice in reading, speaking, listening, viewing and writing in French to excel. Consider using French movies, music or playlists as rewards for sticking to your study schedule.

Nick Waxman - Head of Performing Arts

  • Divide study time into blocks—50 minutes of study and a 10-minute break. In the evening, encourage your child to spend 15 minutes reviewing what they've learned and working out what needs to be tackled tomorrow.
  • Take five minutes each day to engage in mindfulness moments and basic deep breathing. Journaling is also great. At the end of the day, jot down thoughts, worries and achievements to track progress.
  • At least 20 minutes of physical activity each day releases endorphins — this can be a dance routine or walk. Bodies need to be fit and the mind needs to be razor sharp for what lies ahead.
  • A simple ‘how was your day’ is an opportunity for children to share concerns or achievements. Don’t forget snack support! Healthy snacks keep energy levels high during study and rehearsal times.
  • Ensure your child has space and quiet for studying and rehearsing every day.
  • If you're studying theory, make flashcards or use a quiz app to test yourself daily. Make this a 10 to 15-minute daily routine. Allocate specific time each day to run lines or practice dance steps as consistency can improve performance and retention.
  • Use social media or messaging apps to stay connected with classmates and share one useful resource or tip each day.

Tips from three of our Premier’s VCE Award 2022 graduates…

Earlier this year, a record number of Haileybury students were awarded the prestigious Premier’s VCE Awards in recognition of their outstanding academic achievements in specific subjects. Discover some VCE study tips from three of our recent graduates.

“If you’re sitting a VCE subject for the first time this year, dedicate a little more time to it than your other subjects”
“Use your resources to your advantage. Think of each quiz, test or trial exam as an opportunity to practise your skills. Talking to your teacher and asking heaps of questions is also a great way to consolidate your knowledge”
ELAINE (OH 2022)
“Understand your strengths – the study methods or techniques that work for one person may not work for another. Find your own method and craft it so that you’re confident in yourself. In short, work smarter rather than harder and listen to your teachers. I had incredible teachers across my VCE journey that were integral in achieving what I did”
NISHIL (OH 2022)