As we know, different students study in different ways, and that’s totally fine. This article isn’t prescriptive - we’re not telling you what must be done - but we hope these suggestions will help with your study strategy. They’re based on years of experience with high school subjects and students.

We’re keen to hear what you think, too - leave a comment on this article to let us know!


✅ DO: Ask questions

Asking questions in class can be scary - we get it. There’s a lot of pressure floating around in high school, and putting up your hand to say that you don’t understand something takes courage. But it gets easier and easier, and is so beneficial in the long-term.

Check out this article for why question-asking is so important, and how you can get started.


❌ DON’T: Expect change for no reason

It’s natural to be disappointed if you don’t do as well on a test as hoped or expected, but what comes next is really important. On the one hand, you could do nothing, and just hope for a better result next time. On the other hand, you could actually try to diagnose what went wrong, and go about making changes to improve your results.

"On the other hand, you could actually try to diagnose what went wrong..."

You don’t want to expect change after making no adjustments to the way you prepare, study, or execute in timed conditions. Being able to reflect on what you did well and what you could improve on is a great skill. Year 12 is a long year, and there’s time to make little adjustments throughout to maximise your results (and confidence!).


✅ DO: Take responsibility for your learning

We get it - there are sometimes factors at play that make studying less than ideal. Perhaps you don’t like the subject, or you don’t get on with your teacher, or your class is distracting, or whatever else. But at the end of the day, it’s on you to do what you can to get the most out of your education.

If you feel like you need extra help, seek it. If you don’t like your textbook, find other free resources online for a different perspective. It’s up to you, and developing this independence will put you in a much better position for uni (check out Uni Notes for uni study resources), TAFE, work, or just general life. 


❌ DON’T: Neglect everything else

Even if you want top grades, focusing exclusively on study to the detriment of everything else isn’t a balanced or healthy approach. Try to keep a nice balance - you’ll be better for it in the long-term!

"Try to keep a nice balance - you'll be better for it in the long-term!"


✅ DO: Use a variety of resources

Relying solely on one resource per subject (e.g., one single textbook) is a risky business. If you don’t consult several resources, you run the risk of misinterpreting how information is explained. If you diversify where you’re finding your information, on the other hand, you’re more likely to have a rounded understanding of concepts.

Sometimes, you just need something explained in a slightly different way for it to sink in. Resources like free notes and free videos can be useful for this to get a student or past-student perspective. If you’re looking for subject notes, practice questions, trial exams and text guides, ATAR Notes+ is a terrific option.


❌ DON’T: Put all your eggs in one basket

In Year 12, you’ll probably be studying four or more subjects at once. It’s really easy to study disproportionately for the subjects you find most interesting or easiest, but if you’re looking for consistent results, it can be detrimental to spend too long on one subject. You might find these quick articles helpful (these ones are VCE-specific, but the general advice holds more generally):


✅ DO: Be willing to mix it up

There are so many potential study methods (here are just some!). If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s great to be able to try something else. Change your study location, or study environment, or study resources, or study technique, and then reassess to see if any improvements were made.

"There are so many potential study methods..."

Perhaps you don’t want to completely revamp your study habits three days before your final exams, but early in the year (and prior to Year 12) presents many opportunities to try out new techniques.


❌ DON’T: Leave it all to the last minute

It’s oh-so-tempting to put things in the “I’ll do that later” basket throughout the year, but if you do this too much, you’re leaving yourself with heaps to do in the weeks immediately prior to exams.

Take your study notes, for instance. If you think during the year “I’ll organise these and make them neater later”, when are you actually going to do that? If you’re rewriting your notes in the exam preparation period, you’re giving yourself less time for things like practice exams and developing exam-specific skills. 


✅ DO: Aim for consistency

The natural solution for the issue above is to aim for consistency throughout the year. If you do a little bit here, a little bit there, you might be surprised by how much you get done.

March study and April study and May study - it all adds up. It all counts, and you’ll benefit from work early in the year later down the line.


❌ DON’T: Take feedback personally

If you don’t do as well as expected on a test, it’s pretty easy to take feedback personally - but that’s not a super productive approach at the end of the day. Instead, try to work with your teacher (not against them - you’re on the same team, after all) to work out why you lost the marks you did.

This article is centred on HSC English, but contains some great advice on making the most out of assessment feedback.

Everybody works in different ways, but we hope some of the tips in this article help with your study!


Q: Why is it important to ask questions in class, even if it feels scary?

A: Asking questions helps clarify concepts, reinforces learning, and shows active engagement. It's a valuable skill that enhances understanding and confidence in the long run. Asking questions when you have them also saves you a lot of time and prevents misunderstandings in the content. It’s not easy to teach yourself a concept that you’re finding confusing.

Q: What should I do if I didn't perform well on a test?

A: First of all, don’t get disappointed if you don’t perform well on a test! Bad grades aren't the be all and end all. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and do better next time. However, it's crucial to analyse what went wrong and make adjustments to your study methods or preparation strategies. 

Q: How can I take responsibility for my learning?

A: Taking responsibility involves actively seeking help when needed, exploring alternative resources, and staying proactive in your education despite challenges or obstacles. You need to come up with a study schedule that works for you and try to maintain consistency.  

Q: Is it okay to focus solely on studying for top grades?

A: While good grades are important, neglecting other aspects of life can lead to burnout and imbalance. It's essential to maintain a healthy balance between academics, personal interests, and well-being.

Q: Why should I use a variety of resources for studying?

A: Diversifying study resources helps gain a comprehensive understanding of subjects and prevents over-reliance on a single source. Different perspectives and explanations can deepen understanding and aid retention. For example, some concepts are better explained visually, while concepts are easier to understand in written format. Some ideas of study resources you can use are flashcards, YouTube videos, textbooks and mind maps.

Q: How can I avoid procrastination and last-minute cramming?

A: Consistency is key. By maintaining steady progress throughout the year and staying organized with study materials, you can reduce the temptation to procrastinate and alleviate the pressure of last-minute studying. Essentially, you should build up a study schedule that works for you and encourage yourself to stick with it. Additionally, when you have a test coming up, you should start studying for it early.

Q: What if my current study methods aren't effective?

A: Don't be afraid to experiment with different study techniques, environments, or resources. Being open to change and adaptation allows for continual improvement and optimization of study habits.