Kevin Yu scored 50 raw in Spesh, and graduated with an ATAR of 99.95… not bad! If you have any Specialist questions at all, you can get them answered for free right here!

This is the first in a series of articles looking at how to score a raw 50. It’s quite a feat, but certainly doable! In this article, we’re speaking with Kevin, who nailed Specialist Maths. If you want to request a certain article or series, let us know here!

Kevin, was Year 12 completely hectic for you? How much did you study per night?

Year 12 was pretty busy, but not unmanageable. A lot of students’ struggles with VCE might come from poor time management; if you can get that under control then you should be able to keep on top of everything. In terms of how much I studied every night, I would probably say somewhere between 1 and 2 hours. Everyone studies differently and your study needs will depend on what subjects you do and how you prioritize them.

Did you think during the year you were going to get a raw 50 in Spesh?

I don’t think anyone can say that they’re going to get a 50 before the results have even come out. But based on how I had been doing throughout the year it was a goal and a possibility. However, the difference between a 50 and any score in the 40s is just a few marks – a few careless mistakes or a mind blank in the middle of the exam – which in a way can come down to luck on the day.

Do you think you did things differently to other people?

I didn’t do anything radical.  I just made sure that I understood everything that was taught. I don’t think it’s necessary or even better to work ahead of the class if you ensure you don’t fall behind learning the content as it is taught.

You got a raw 50… did you do other things with your life?

Despite doing the best in Spesh, I definitely spent more time on English and Literature throughout the year. On top of that, I continued to play sport and compete in debating.

What do you think the difference is between a 30 raw, 40 raw and 50 raw?

In my opinion, getting a 50 raw in Spesh can be largely down to luck. Anyone who gets between 40 and 50 has the potential to get a raw 50 on a good day with no careless mistakes and getting lucky with exam questions. What increases the likelihood of getting a 50 is becoming familiar with a variety of different question types and being able to problem-solve in scenarios that may be unfamiliar. Minimising careless mistakes should also be a priority, but is easier said than done. The difference between a raw 30 and 40 is a bit more pronounced. While the basic ideas may be comfortable, Spesh exams build on those principles to create complex questions. Getting from a raw 30 to raw 40 involves knowing when to use certain concepts and adapting them to the scenario given in exams.

The age-old question: how many practice exams?

Around 30 practice exams (15 Exam 1s and 15 Exam 2s).

And, finally, let’s cut to the chase: what are your top three tips for absolutely nailing Spesh?

  1. Don’t leave concepts behind. Most of Spesh builds upon previous knowledge, which means becoming a little bit behind can lead to having no idea what is happening. Rather than grouping Spesh into individual sections, think of it as one long course with everything overlapping in some way or another.

  2. Seeking outside resources: many schools have small Spesh classes, which may mean fewer resources. It can also be hard to gauge how well you’re going in a small cohort. If you feel like you’re not understanding everything, there are plenty of internet videos and resources on all the concepts taught in Specialist Maths.

  3. Becoming independent of the formula sheet. The presence of a formula sheet can be a bit misleading. Generally, if you need to rely on the formula sheet consistently throughout the exam, you will probably struggle to finish the exam on time. The formula sheet is best thought of as a backup and you should aim to remember the formulas so you don’t need to spend time looking for and understanding formulas in the middle of the exam.

So, there you go! A 50 in Spesh, a perfect ATAR, and a lovely fella to boot.

NOTE: Following all of this advice by no means guarantees a high study score or ATAR – but hey, it worked for Kevin!

Chill out with fellow VCEers! Class of 2017: click here! And Class of 2018: click here!