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October 22, 2019, 12:17:53 pm

Author Topic: My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve  (Read 2625 times)  Share 

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geminii

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My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve
« on: February 24, 2017, 06:41:44 pm »
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Hi everyone!

So this is a bit of a weird post because I did Biology 3/4 last year, and I didn't exactly get the score I wanted to. At the start of the year I aimed for a raw 44. By the end of the year I was questioning whether I even got 30+. And when I opened my results, I got a 37 raw - right in the middle of the two extremes.
I know to many that 37 raw is a great score but for me it was really bad, especially seeing as I did Health & Human Dev. as well and got a raw 36, which scales down a lot. And my ATAR aim is 98+ so this was NOT a good result for me. Even worse, the average score of my class was raw 39, and over 50% of the class got their names printed in the Herald Sun (AKA 40+ raw).
So I was pretty unhappy, with both my year 11 scores. Looking back there are some things I could have done better and I wanted to share these with you in case any future or current Bio students are reading this! I know I don't have a lot of credibility but people say that you can't learn if you don't make mistakes, and I certainly made a lot, so here is what I've learnt!

1. Use your Checkpoints book!
Seriously, I did not even touch this, biggest mistake ever. Checkpoints literally is the closest thing you can do to actually doing the exam, apart from doing a practice exam. If you only have a little bit of time and can't do an entire practice exam, do a few Checkpoints questions! These will seriously help you get used to exam style questions. One of the questions in my SACs was even from the Checkpoints book and only the people who had done that question in Checkpoints previously got the right answer!

2. Start practice exams early.
I did around 13 practice exams for biology, and that really helped. One of my friends did 20+ though, and she got over 40. This may be an unpopular opinion but the truth is the more practice exams you do, the more you get used to the exam format, and the better you'll do in the exam. And don't leave them all to the last minute! Start at least a month before the exam, even earlier if you can! And when you mark them, either get your teacher to mark them and ask them to mark you harshly, or (if you teacher doesn't want to mark them like mine), then mark yourself very harshly using the answers on the VCAA website. Don't give yourself any marks if you didn't get that one key word in! And while you're marking, don't give yourself a mark just because you think, "Oh, I would have got that in the exam." The fact is, you wouldn't have, because otherwise why did you answer it wrongly?

3. If you take notes, don't leave them to the last minute.
I started taking notes but then motivation dropped and I later stopped. My friends who got 40+ stayed consistent in their study methods, whether that was taking notes or not taking notes, and I wish I had too. Take notes from memory, not from reading off the textbook. If you read the textbook and copy down exactly what you've read immediately, you haven't memorised it, you only remembered it from two seconds ago. This was one of the mistakes I made. I thought I had remembered everything when in fact I hadn't!

4. Bouncing back from a bad SAC mark.
The lowest mark I got in a SAC was 14/22. Not good at all, but the reason I got that low SAC mark was because I simply did not have enough experience answering exam style questions (again, going back to the Checkpoints problem). But the way I bounced back from the SAC was important. It's crucial to remember that you cannot change SAC marks, and if your cohort is a good one, you're in luck because all your SAC scores will get scaled up, just like mine did!

5. Revise regularly.
I left all my revision to the last minute. Well, not completely, but I didn't have a routine where I would plan how many chapters to get through in a certain amount of time. I ended up with having to compromise studying the material and doing practice exams, which is NOT something you should do if you want a high score!

I hope this helped some of you! I will be honest, VCE is NOT easy, Biology especially is VERY content heavy. You need to revise, revise, revise, practice, practice, practice, and practice some more. Ask your teacher for help all the time and work with your friends if they're good at biology because they'll help you boost your marks too!!

Good luck! :)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2017, 06:46:17 pm by geminii »
"If you win silver, sooner or later, you will be forgotten. If you win gold, you will be an example, and examples are given, not forgotten."
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2016-17 (VCE): Biology, HHD, English, Methods, Specialist, Chemistry
2018-22: Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours) / Bachelor of Biomedical Science @ Monash Uni

2019 MEC2404 | ENG2005 | BMS1042 | BMS1062

Joseph41

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Re: My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2017, 07:57:08 pm »
+3
Thank you so much for this, geminii! :D

I've been thinking about the ATAR Notes community a lot recently. By its very nature, the median scores on here are just ridiculously high - and whilst that's incredible and everything, I really think it makes murky popular perception of what constitutes a good score.

Anyway, that was a bit of an aside and not directly responding to your own post, because I recognise that you were disappointed with your scores, and that's all that fundamentally matters in the end!

And with that in mind, can we all just appreciate what an amazing thread this is? So many people would just dwell on it, but you, my friend - you're using it to help others. That speaks so much for your character, geminii! ;D

Quote
1. Use your Checkpoints book!
I only ever used Checkpoints for HHD (and rarely), but yeah, it does seem pretty good for those content-heavy subjects. I'm entirely ignorant: do you know if Checkpoints exists for the more mathsy subjects?

Quote
This may be an unpopular opinion but the truth is the more practice exams you do, the more you get used to the exam format, and the better you'll do in the exam.
I agree to an extent, but I also think that there's definitely a point where you can do too many practice exams. Like, on the face of it, more = better. But what if, say, you're losing sleep to do them? I guess that's where your "don't leave it until the last minute" advice comes into play, haha. ;D

Quote
3. If you take notes, don't leave them to the last minute.
What are your thoughts on handwriting versus typing for Bio, out of interest?

Quote
4. Bouncing back from a bad SAC mark.
The lowest mark I got in a SAC was 14/22. Not good at all, but the reason I got that low SAC mark was because I simply did not have enough experience answering exam style questions (again, going back to the Checkpoints problem). But the way I bounced back from the SAC was important. It's crucial to remember that you cannot change SAC marks, and if your cohort is a good one, you're in luck because all your SAC scores will get scaled up, just like mine did!
I'm quoting this whole thing because this bit is such important advice!

Quote
5. Revise regularly.
Absolutely!

Actually an incredible post, geminii - thank you so much! ;D

If you know anybody studying VCE Bio this year, this is a must read!
One wug.

geminii

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Re: My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2017, 10:04:24 pm »
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Thanks Joseph!

I only ever used Checkpoints for HHD (and rarely), but yeah, it does seem pretty good for those content-heavy subjects. I'm entirely ignorant: do you know if Checkpoints exists for the more mathsy subjects?

Yes, they're available for Accounting, English & English EAL, and Business Management! :)

I agree to an extent, but I also think that there's definitely a point where you can do too many practice exams. Like, on the face of it, more = better. But what if, say, you're losing sleep to do them? I guess that's where your "don't leave it until the last minute" advice comes into play, haha. ;D

Oh, absolutely! There are heaps of things that should be taken into account but as a general rule, the more you do the better. If your health is suffering then it's a good idea to take a break!

What are your thoughts on handwriting versus typing for Bio, out of interest?

I typed my notes at the start of the year and never hand-wrote any of them. I found that this is what almost everyone in my class did, and it was easier for me to format them and arrange them on my laptop rather than having them in a hard copy. I know that handwriting them helps you remember your notes but I have never done this, apart from drawings of different processes so I could understand how they worked. However I do handwrite notes for Spesh and Methods because it takes too long to write up formulas with the correct symbols and everything on my laptop as the teacher is talking.

I'm glad you think my post will be helpful to Bio students! The mistakes I made were really silly, I just underestimated VCE and now I think I realise how much effort you actually need to put in!

 :D
"If you win silver, sooner or later, you will be forgotten. If you win gold, you will be an example, and examples are given, not forgotten."
- Dangal


2016-17 (VCE): Biology, HHD, English, Methods, Specialist, Chemistry
2018-22: Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours) / Bachelor of Biomedical Science @ Monash Uni

2019 MEC2404 | ENG2005 | BMS1042 | BMS1062

Quantum44

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Re: My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2017, 11:27:28 pm »
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Great advice for bio!

The only reservations I have about checkpoints are that they can ruin the VCAA practice exams for you which should be the cornerstone of your exam preparation. You're spot on about practice exams though, I think one of the easiest ways to improve your score is to smash out plenty of practice exams in an intelligent fashion and I'm very glad I ended up being able to do 40 practice exams. Notes are also extremely important, one of the best ways to gain a rock solid understanding of the content is to rewrite your notes several times over the year in a comprehensive fashion.
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Re: My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2017, 11:32:47 pm »
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Yeah, unfortunately there's a huge lack of revision resources apart from checkpoints. Checkpoints seems the most effective but it also artificially distorts the perceived difficulty of VCAA exams in a couple different ways. Good on companies like ATARNotes to pump out extra resources although some of them may be lacklustre.
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brenden

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Re: My Biology 2016 Score, and What I Could Have Done To Improve
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 11:56:54 pm »
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Seriously great post. I love it - thank you :)
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