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May 16, 2022, 09:28:00 pm

Author Topic: Finished your QCE exams? Now what?  (Read 2861 times)

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Finished your QCE exams? Now what?
« on: November 11, 2020, 12:43:45 pm »
Hey all! A few years ago, I wrote a thread about what to do after Year 12 exams. Now that the very first external QCE exams are nearing an end, I've adapted that post below. :)


So you’ve just finished Year 12, or are very close to doing so. That deserves genuine celebration, and I congratulate you heartily. I don’t care about your final results or what you do next; I just want to say, genuinely, from the bottom of my heart, well done!

For many of you, this is the culmination of 13+ years of hard work. When I was in your position, I recall musing that my life had been controlled by a monotonous, ringing bell (not true, of course, but that’s sort of how it felt by the end). But when it was all said and done – after I walked out of my final exam – I thought:

“Okay… so what happens now?!”

And it’s genuinely a really tricky question to answer. For me, I had been so focused on Year 12 that I hadn’t given the future much thought. I knew I wanted to go to uni, but I genuinely didn’t know what I wanted to study (I ended up changing my preferences after results were published). I felt lost. Whether you want to continue your education, work full time, travel, take a gap year (which has both pros and cons - an excellent thread by Heidi, particularly if you like rainbows) or whatever else, this is invariably going to be a stage of transition.

This is why I’m making this thread. I personally struggled after Year 12. I have a hunch (no evidence whatsoever) that those who spend more time studying through QCE would, on average, find it harder to adjust to life after school. A lot of those people would be on these forums.

Basically, I just want to encourage you all to make the most of this time, because nothing quite like it will come about again. Of course, there are heaps of different ways to do this, and it definitely includes taking some time out to relax, have fun, and celebrate your successes.

Below are just a few ideas of things you can do when you finish your exams. I acknowledge that a lot of these seem straightforward or anodyne, but I think I would have benefitted from such advice (no matter how ‘obvious’) when I graduated, so here we are. :)


The perfect opportunity to enter or consolidate your position in the workforce! A lot of organisations look for Christmas casuals over the summer in particular. It can be difficult finding a job initially, but you can search websites such as Seek or Indeed to improve your chances. I also recommend creating a LinkedIn profile (which itself has a jobs section); there is a myriad of resources online for profile creation – see, for example, this one, and then add me for that sneaky +1 connection hahaha]. Make sure you also keep an eye on the ATAR Notes hiring page for potential opportunities!

Alternatively, you might like to think about tutoring. Thinking about it, I’ve never actually had a job that wasn’t academia-related in some way, and it’s a relatively easy (and rewarding) way of making money. There is some advice for starting up here.


Don’t really feel like entering the workforce yet? That’s cool – why not volunteer? Aside from being ridiculously valuable CV boosters, volunteering positions are great for experience and personal development.

You most certainly don’t need to go overseas or “change the world” or whatever. Why not volunteer at a local op-shop? Why not volunteer with a not-for-profit education organisation? I’m 100% sure that other users here can provide more insight into what they’ve done and opportunities of which they’re aware. If anything comes to mind, feel free to make a post about it below! Let’s help each other out, here!


Not going to lie: this is what I’d personally do, and what I personally did. If your circumstances allow, go and see the world! Explore!

Of course, circumstances at this stage might make that a little difficult. Overseas travel might be off the cards for a little bit due to COVID-19 restrictions, but if restrictions allow, there are still lots of places to explore within the state.

Organise yourself

If you’re anything like I was, you’ll currently have the equivalent of 900 forests in paper form in your room. Past exams, notes, worksheets, books, random stuff you’ll find somehow from Year 7 – it just all adds up. In my experience, clean spaces result in cleaner thoughts, so I see this time as a great opportunity to get organised (at least temporarily hahaha).

It can be quite therapeutic, too, to just… get rid of stuff. Be selective with what you throw out (or, rather, recycle if possible), though – I’ll elaborate on this later on. You never really know when things will come in handy.

Aside from your physical space, though, you can use this time to write your CV, reply to messages you’ve ignored, get on top of chores, go to the gym again (or, in my case, think about possibly joining a gym at some point in the vague future but never get around to it for whatever reason (read: any reason at all)). Hey, you could even prepare for uni or TAFE or whatever you’re doing next year (if you know). :)

Pursue neglected hobbies

I wrote an absolute heap of poetry when I finished, because that’s something I enjoy and something I felt I didn’t have time to do during Year 12 – particularly the back end. Now you have the time to catch up on TV shows, play sport, practise your music, whatever you want – now’s the time! Isn’t that exciting?!

You might also like to start a new hobby! Why not learn a new language, for example (says Nick, who has tried but never successfully learnt a new language)? If you’re struggling for ideas, I legit recommend learning how to Rubik’s cube. It’s pretty great.

Just… have fun!

Schoolies, if you’re that way inclined, and if restrictions allow. But aside from that, just go to the beach, hang out with friends, go for walks. You well and truly deserve this break. Absolutely, no doubt about it.

You could even go out and meet new people (*audible gasps*)! Cue this reaction:

Contribute to AN!

Lastly (for now), and most pertinently, stick around!

If you found any value from AN whatsoever throughout your schooling, why not try to give back to those students who are following? Without people like you – people who have the experience of getting through Year 12 under the new QLD ATAR system (you're the experts!), of selecting subjects, of completing exams, the whole shebang – this place wouldn’t be quite the same.

Even if you didn’t really use AN throughout your own QCE experience, please still contribute! Truly, the more, the merrier (it’s not often I say that, considering my general reaction to most things is similar to David Mitchell’s, in the image above). I had about five posts until I finished school – it wasn’t until then that I started posting. I know a heap of prominent users are the same; some didn’t even join until well after high school.

If you think there’s a gap in resources, here – say you did a specific QCE subject and you feel you have some great advice – make a post about it!

ATAR Notes is such a wonderful, supportive community. You will find great value through remaining active. You have my word on that!

So in summary, I’m not going to say that this will be the best time of your life, because I can’t guarantee that at all (it wasn’t for me!). But the point here is that if you find yourself struggling a little without the structure, know that you’re well and truly not alone in those sentiments. I genuinely missed school. That’s not weird, trust me. If you’re finding it really hard to adjust, please talk to somebody. If you don’t know who, try Beyond Blue or headspace.

A final note
I’m basically writing this post because I’ve just finished uni, just submitted my thesis, and I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing with my life. Is that ironic? Hahaha. So if anybody has any suggestions for me, they’d be greatly appreciated!

Well done for finishing or almost finishing, everybody. ATAR Notes is extremely proud! :)

Oxford comma, Garamond, Avett Brothers, Orla Gartland enthusiast.