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July 12, 2020, 05:39:40 am

Author Topic: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings  (Read 45344 times)  Share 

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Genshai

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #60 on: November 15, 2019, 09:54:05 pm »
+3
Subject Name:
Biology

Units: (Is it Units 1&2 or Units 3&4?)
3/4

Workload:
I found bio had a relatively light workload, as everything links together :)

Assessment: (Outline the various assessments which make up the subject and how much each counts for)
U3: At my school, we had 2 SACs (each 4%) for AOS1 and 1 SAC (8%) for AOS 2. Both of these were the classic test.
U4: We had 1 SAC (8%) per AOS (x3), with the final being a scientific poster.
This totalled to 40%, with the exam being the final 60% :)

Exam Thoughts: (What's the structure? How hard was it?)
I really didnt like the 2019 exam :( It emphasised a lot of 'less important' aspects of the studying design (very little adaptive response, gene regulation) - a lot more application questions and quite unlike other vcaa exams imo :) I think i had just expected something else, and didnt study appropriately.
The exam itself is 2 hours and 45 minutes, including 15 minutes reading time. There are 40 MC questions and 11-12 short answer questions, consisting of multiple parts (a,b,c etc). I find bio MC are relatively easy compared to other subjects, but the short answer requires a very specific response. be careful :)

Textbook Recommendation: (What did you use? How much did you use it?)
I used the the Nelson Biology textbook, but honestly, i stopped using it half way through. My teacher gave us summaries throughout the year, so i found those more beneficial than the textbook.
I dont /endorse/ it ;), but you can find many pdf copies of textbooks online for free, so maybe check some out before you choose to purchase one. Or use them all, whatever floats your boat.

Recommended Other Resources:
Biozone ! amazing resource for studying for SACs !! i wouldnt recommend it for the exam necessarily, but perfect for the SACs. I also used it consistently throughout the year, which i would highly recommend !
Edrolos were a great resource. I highly recommend the biology edrolo. I would watch these before we covered the content in class, and then after we covered it. Really helped to hear the information multiple times.
ATARNotes Lectures: super helpful and refreshing. The bio lectures were great for refreshing older content and preparing for what was to come. Would highly recommend.

Year of Completion:
2019

Rating:  out of 5
5/5 !!
Bio was my absolute favourite subject. I would highly recommend it !! I actually skipped the 1/2, and only did the 3/4 for timetable reasons. i had no interest in bio at first, but I quickly fell in love with the subject !

Your Mark/Grade: (Optional)
I had an average of about 93% on sacs, and was ranked about 1-5 in the cohort.
I will update you when my ss is released :)
Update: I got a raw 40 (probably 41 or so scaled) !! so stoked !!
B+, A+, A+ :)

Comments: Give your overall opinion of the subject, content, assessment etc. and a recommendation, plus anything else which you feel is relevant.
I would do it again in a heartbeat ! i really, really recommend bio. Its actually fun studying for !
« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 06:50:40 pm by Genshai »
2019: Biology [40]
2020: English, Methods, Revolutions, Chemistry, Psych

Geoo

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #61 on: November 17, 2019, 04:11:39 pm »
+4
Subject Name: Biology

Units: 3/4

Workload:
Above average. There was alot of content to remember and understand, which meant some very long weeks of work.

Assessment:
Unit three SACs are worth 16%, and is out of 100. Unit four SACs are worth 24%, and was out of 90. At my school, I had three SACs for each unit, so a total of 6 throughout the year.
Unit 3:
SAC 1: Photosynthesis and Cellular respiration
SAC 2: Cellular Signals and Apoptosis
SAC 3: The Immune System

Unit 4:
SAC 1: Epidemics and Pandemics
SAC 2: Poster SAC/ Experimental design
SAC 3: Human Evolution

Exam Thoughts:
This year's exam was one of the easiest I had seen, however, it was very random and only had half of the study design on it. I think alot of the questions were a very small point on the study design that were quite specific, so if you didn't study it or didn't know it, you were kind of screwed. I was also expecting alot of of AOS 1 unit four, there were no questions on natural selection or speciation, and only one on fossilisation. The experimental design was also alot easier than previous years and more straight forward. Overall, I think it was just a really weird exam.

Textbook Recommendation:
I did not have any textbook assigned to me, nor do I suggest one for studying biology. My school required me to use biozone, and most was just taught in class were we relied on the notes we made throughout the year.

Recommended Other Resources:
Even though I was not told to, listening to douchy's biology podcast was a good way to summerise information and learn a few tips and tricks from someone who new the course and what VCAA look for inside and out. I found looking at other people's notes quite helpful to get a different perspective, and they may have paraphrased it in a way which may be easier to understand compared to a classroom definition.

Year of Completion: 2019 (year 11)

Rating:  5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade:
G1: A
G2: A+
G3: A
Score: 38

Comments:
Overall, biology was one of my favourite subjects to study all year. I always looked forward to it and thoroughly enjoyed the content. Whilst there was alot of content to memorise, I didn't find it too much but it was definitely borderline. I spent alot of time writing notes and summery posters which I did find quite helpful when it came to revision. I do have a few regrets about the subject however, and that is expression. I knew my content inside and out, however, when it came to exams I really struggled to express myself by either giving too much or not enough detail, and sometimes just leaving a few things out. I really needed more practice with this and I unfortunately just ran out of time. So I would definitely recommend starting exam prep earlier (which I started early October, and ending up completing 17 practice exams), and doing exam like questions consistently throughout the year.

This is a very unpopular opinion, but i enjoyed unit 3 so much more over unit 4. Not only was the content more engaging, but I looked forward to revising the knowledge that I learned for my SACs, and I found that I could relate it to real like alot more. Unit 4 was were I struggled, but I believe it really all just came down to expression, in which I just didn't know how to do so. I also didn't mind the practical poster investigation. I chose to do it on photosynthesis, in where I was experimenting on how does the wavelength of light effect the rate of photosynthesis or something like that. It was a really basic research question, but I really liked the process involved and creating my own poster.

I personally think that this was a great subject for doing in year 11. It has taught me many things that I will carry over into year 12, and overall it has been a giant learning curve. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the content and I will definitely miss biology.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 11:33:12 am by Geoo »
VCE Journey: 2019 - 2020
Biology [38], Chemistry, Methods, Food Studies, English.

MissSunshine

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #62 on: November 18, 2019, 05:30:57 pm »
+5
Biology:

Units: 3/4  - year 12

Workload:
Although the subject is fairly content heavy, a great deal of the content is interconnected which reduces the workload! Many people I know found there was too much content to learn but I found having a passion for the subject and wanting to truly understand each topic made it feel like a lot less work! (Side note; AOS1 U3 Bio is practically the same as AOS2 U4 Chem which is great revision for the bio exam and cuts down your workload a tonne at the end of the year when you're studying for your last chem sac and juggling exam revision at the same time)

Assessment:
Unit 3 SACs - 2 SACs each counting for 8% so Unit 3 was overall 16%

Unit 4 SACs - 3 SACs each counting for 8% so Unit 4 was overall 24% - one of the assessments was a practical investigation, the SAC involved planning and completing the SAC followed by a handwritten timed prac report poster (it might be different for other schools but that's what we did  :) )

Final Exam - counts for 60% and involves both multiple choice and short answer (40 MC, 11-12 SA) in a 2.5 hour time frame plus 15 mins reading time.

Exam Thoughts: (What's the structure? How hard was it?)
I really liked the exam, although it is moving towards a greater focus on application questions and more niche sections of the study design is was definitely a fair exam that rewarded individuals who worked hard and understood the concepts rather than rote learning.

Textbook Recommendation: (What did you use? How much did you use it?)
Throughout the year I used the Heinemann Biology textbook but I only really used it as supplementary to my teacher's ppts (he used the textbook to make the ppts plus added extra info so I was basically taking notes from the textbook) .

Recommended Other Resources:
The resources I used the most were my teacher's ppt's and edrolo which I consistently watched before each class as well as used to get ahead of my class and the content. (I finished content at the start of term 3 which gave me sufficient time to complete 15+ exams without feeling pushed). After finishing each piece of content in class I used the Neap study smart questions which were by far my favourite resource and extremely helpful.

Year of Completion:
2019

Rating:  out of 5
6/5!!

Your Mark/Grade:
Unit 3 (GA1): 95%
Unit 4 (GA2): 100%
Exam(GA3): TBA (fingers crossed)

Comments:
Bio was genuinely my favourite subject during year 12. All of my other subjects had quite a heavy workload as well but my love of the subject and it's content made biology feel like my 'break' subject despite it having a similar load. I found flashcards to be the best form of revision (getting family to ask me questions that I put on the front and I explained the content rather than having a memorised response) but many people I know fell into the trap of just making flashcards for what they felt was the most important. The key for bio flashcards is to make them on everything even if you think it's unimportant. If your stack of cards isn't thicker than the textbook you probably haven't done enough!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 05:32:51 pm by MissSunshine »
2018: Texts and Traditions: 45
2019: English: 42, Biology: 45, Chemistry: 40, Methods:39 , Specialist:30
ATAR: 98.10
School Dux (ahhhhhhhhhh)
2020: BSc at Melbourne Uni

Elsa//768

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #63 on: November 27, 2019, 12:45:00 pm »
+3
Subject Name: EAL

Units: Unit 3&4

Workload: Moderate and increases before each SAC/ exam.

Assessment:
In Unit 3, the SACs are reading and creating texts, analysing argument and listening to texts.
Reading the creating means writing an analytical essay on a selected text, and my secondary school did Persepolis. Analysing argument involves both finishing an essay analysing the way persuasive techniques have been employed to present arguments, as well as short-answer questions testing comprehension of the article, which are weighed equally with the essay. Listening involves listening to two unfamiliar audios and completing the accompanying questions.

In Unit 4, the SACs are reading and comparing and presenting argument.
Reading and comparing involves completing a comparative essay analysing the similarities and differences between two selected texts, which for me were The Namesake and Reckoning. Presenting argument has two components- meaning students need to give a speech and complete a state of intention.

Exam Thoughts:
For EAL students, exam has 3 sections, with section A being listening, Section B being analytical essay, and section C being analysing argument and comprehension questions. EAL students do not need to complete a comparative essay on exams.
Overall, there were no major surprises on the exam. I thought this year's listening is a little bit easier than last year's, and section C is ok... For section B, I chose Persepolis and felt that the topics (particularly the second one) were a bit narrow.

Textbook Recommendation:
The major textbook that I used was Insight textbook for EAL students. This textbook was particularly useful because it provided many listening exercises!! Although not all of the questions are of the same standards as VCAA's, the structures are highly similar. I also recommend Insight comparative guides because the guide on Reckoning and The Namesake really helped me to have a good grasp of the major themes of the texts and offered some alternative perspectives from the ones I studied in class. In addition, LitCharts are quite useful for providing chapter-by-chapter analysis.

Recommended Other Resources:
I highly recommend asking your EAL teacher for additional help and resources. A huge thank you to Ms Ford for being so supportive and helpful!! The advice that your teacher offers are invaluable because by incorporating them into your next essay, you are constantly improving and avoiding making the same mistakes!

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating:  4 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade:
Unit 3: 91%
Unit 4: 97%
Exam: Hopefully I did not stuff up

Comments: EAL is not necessarily 'easier' than mainstream English, but it is certainly quite different both in terms of the structure of the course and the assignments that students do. Overall I enjoyed learning it because the grades you get are proportional to the work you put into the subject. Sure, you need to complete heaps of plans and practice essays and memorise quotes and there is no easy way out, but if you put in the hard work then you will definitely improve and achieve better marks. Also, I really liked the oral component of the presenting argument SAC because I love talking  :P
To quote my awesome EAL teacher--
'Knowledge brings confidence. Ignorance breeds fear.'
2018: Revolutions (46); Biology (47)
2019: EAL (46); Methods (47 ); Psychology (49 ); Legal Studies ( 39)
ATAR: 99.65
Possibly offering tutoring for 2020!
After all, tomorrow is another day.

milanander

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #64 on: December 07, 2019, 11:58:43 am »
+4
 Subject Name: Mathematical Methods (CAS)

Units: 3/4

Workload: Pretty high. I jumped into 3/4 without doing 1/2 so I had a bit more to catch up on.

Assessment: 3 internal SACs:
SAC 1 covers all of unit 3 and is on differentiation. (17%)
SAC 2 covers the first half of unit 4 and is on anti differatiation and integration (8.5%)
SAC 3 covers the second half of unit 4 and is on probability and statistics (8.5%)

Internal SACs are worth 34% in total. There are also two end-of-year exams, worth 66% in total. Exam 1 (Tech-free) is worth 22% while Exam 2 (tech-active) is worth 44%.

Exam Thoughts: 2 exams:
Exam 1 is tech-free and has 40 marks worth of short answer questions. It's 1 hour with a 15 minute reading time.
Exam 2 is tech-active and you're also allowed a bound reference with notes. There are 20 MCQs worth 1 mark each, and 60 marks of short answer questions. The exam goes for 2 hours with 15 min reading time.

Personally I found exam 1 to be easier. Exam 2 is quite demanding of the CAS and you must be really know all the functions of the CAS inside out to do well.

Textbook Recommendation: My school used Jacaranda MathQuest. I think most people would agree that cambridge is better though.

Recommended Other Resources:
Worm's Maths Academy videos on YouTube - he goes through past VCAA exam questions in a lot of detail (way better than examiners reports)
Cambridge checkpoints were a waste of money
I found MAV and iTute to have the hardest commercial practice exams.

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 47

Comments:
Personally I loved methods and I found that I did well in it (mostly, probability ruined me though) even though I had horrible grades in maths from year 7 to year 10. I didn't do the 1/2 sequence so the first couple of weeks was quite difficult and you really need a strong foundation in maths to be able to tackle the questions. There's also a large amount of application questions on the exam which tests not your ability to rote learn concepts but to apply and think outside the box.

I think methods is a great subject to take if you enjoy maths and problem solving or if you just want to keep your options open for university courses. I found the subject to be fun (yes, F-U-N) to do and would highly recommend!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2019, 04:07:18 pm by milanander »
2014 2015
Studio Arts 36, Product Design 39

2019 2020
Systems 41, Methods 47, Specialist, Physics, Viscom, English
UMEP Art History 4.0

JR_StudyEd

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #65 on: December 13, 2019, 09:57:21 am »
+4
Subject Name: Psychology

Units: 3/4

Workload: Medium. But like many unit 3&4 subjects, you choose the workload.

Assessment: I believe we had two SACs in test conditions for each area of study. The end of year exam contributes 60% to your study score.

Exam Thoughts: I remember it being pretty chill to be honest. I just tried to answer as much of it as I could.

Textbook Recommendation: Well, I only used the Jacaranda textbook, and although I didn't really complete many questions in it (we'll get to Checkpoints soon), I found the information to be rather helpful.

Recommended Other Resources: Checkpoints. Do the questions in them. Check your answers with classmates and your teacher. Learn from your mistakes so that you can smash that exam. Please. I beg you.

Year of Completion: 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5

Comments: Favourite subject by far. Loved it. Really enhanced my Year 11 academic experience. I would recommend Psych to anyone who is interested in the scientific study of stuff, but thinks the likes of Bio, Chem and Physics are too "sciencey", if that makes sense.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2019, 09:59:13 am by JR_StudyEd »
My academic interests include: Ancient History, Geography, and Anthropology.

JR_StudyEd

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #66 on: December 13, 2019, 10:08:31 am »
+3
Subject Name: English

Units: 3/4

Workload: Widely varies between students. I will probably say this for every subject review, but you, the individual are fully responsible for how much effort you put in. I personally found the workload to be in the middle ground.

Assessment: This is the order in which my school did it:
1. A Text Response essay
2. A Creative piece
3. Argument analysis
4. Oral presentation
5. Comparative analysis
And finally the exam, which contributes 50% to your final study score.

Exam Thoughts: 3 hours long.
Section A: Text Response
Section B: Comparative Essay
Section C: Argument Analysis

Textbook Recommendation: What textbook? English already has plenty of books to read. ;)

Recommended Other Resources: Uhh...ATARNotes lecture slides?

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 3 out of 5

Comments: To be honest, I don't have much to say. I neither felt excited nor terrified before walking into English class. If you don't think Literature's your thing, do this.
My academic interests include: Ancient History, Geography, and Anthropology.

JR_StudyEd

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #67 on: December 13, 2019, 10:28:21 am »
+3
Subject Name: Biology

Units: 3/4

Workload: Rather substantial, especially if you're someone like me that never did Unit 1/2. And did Unit 3/4 in Year 12.

Assessment: I don't know how helpful this will be to students that go to schools other than the one I went to, but regardless...

Unit 3:
- Photosynthesis and Enzyme prac
- Caffeine stimulus and response
Unit 4:
- Immunity
- Evolution
- Scientific Poster
- Gene Technology

The final exam contributes 60% to the study score.

Exam Thoughts: I struggled through it. There's a mutiple-choice section, which I really, really tried to answer correctly. I suppose the short-answer questions gave me more than a significant challenge, and not a great one for my confidence, seeing as that was only my second exam.

Textbook Recommendation: Heinemann. That's the one we used.

Recommended Other Resources: Checkpoints, Edrolo, Douchy's podcast (that is if your attention span is long and you have the time)

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating:  2 out of 5

Comments: After completing adoring Psych and appreciating its content-heaviness, I thought I would have similar feelings towards Bio. But the content-heaviness was much more substantial in Bio, and blunted my interest in learning the content. Towards the end of Term 2, it just got too overwhelming. I was disinterested in Bio, thinking that only a small portion of the study design could be retained in my brain in time for the exam. And I was right. As I type this up, the letter in the mail containing my results for each of my subjects is staring me right in the face. I don't even feel close to qualified to write up subject reviews on the basis of my results. But at least I gave it my absolute best. I (mostly) didn't let my shallow desires get in the way of the long-term satisfaction of pouring 110% effort into my exam. My results may not reflect that, (and there's pretty obvious reasons as to why I ended up with these results), but at least I can say that I never gave up, and I kept going right to the very end, even with my waning interest in Bio.
My academic interests include: Ancient History, Geography, and Anthropology.

JR_StudyEd

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #68 on: December 13, 2019, 10:38:06 am »
0
Subject Name: Chemistry

Units: 3/4

Workload: Close to saying that it is heavy. Okay fine. It's heavy.

Assessment: This is how my school went about it:
Unit 3, SAC 1: The energy transformations occurring in chemical reactions
Unit 3, SAC 2: Equilibrium + Reaction Rate
Unit 4, SAC 1: Making aspirin. Oh, and answering chemistry questions relating to it.
Unit 4, SAC 2: Proteins, carbohydrates and calorimetry
Unit 4, SAC 3: Scientific Poster

Exam Thoughts: It was my last ever VCE exam. I simply gave out every last ounce of grey matter left in my brain and put in on the page. If you are not aware, there's a multiple-choice section, and a short-answer section.

Textbook Recommendation: Jacaranda. How unhelpful you were.

Recommended Other Resources: Khan Academy. ATARNotes lecture slides. Way better than the textbook I had.

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 2 out of 5

Comments: Found out that I'm not a science person. Like Bio, I struggled through Chem. I paid attention in class, I asked questions when I could. I simply procrastinated a tad more than I studied. Honestly, Chem wasn't a subject I was particularly thrilled to see on my daily timetable. But I know there are many of who out there who would leave their warm beds at 7am, five days a week to study Chemistry. If that's you, go for it!
My academic interests include: Ancient History, Geography, and Anthropology.

JR_StudyEd

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #69 on: December 13, 2019, 10:48:46 am »
+2
Subject Name: Health and Human Development

Units: 3/4

Workload: Slightly below average.

Assessment:
Unit 3, AOS* 1, SAC 1: Understanding health and wellbeing
Unit 3, AOS 2: We had two SACs, both of which were on different aspects of promoting health and wellbeing.
Unit 3, AOS 1: We had two SACs, both of which were on different aspects of health and wellbeing in a global context.
Unit 3, AOS 2: Health and the SDGs*

*AOS is short for Area of Study
*SDG is short for Sustainable Development Goals

Exam Thoughts: Unfortunately, the luxury of a multiple-choice section will not be granted to you. WARNING: There is a lot more reading than you would expect. Read all questions carefully. Work quickly. You will run out of time otherwise.

Textbook Recommendation: Jacaranda. Very helpful.

Recommended Other Resources: Edrolo. ATARNotes lecture slides.

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5

Comments: Only behind Psych in terms of my favourite subject. I enjoyed learning about issues that concern our planet today, and learning about how we can improve the health of Australians, as well as the world. Would highly recommend.
My academic interests include: Ancient History, Geography, and Anthropology.

JR_StudyEd

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #70 on: December 13, 2019, 11:02:15 am »
+1
Subject Name: Maths Methods

Units: 3/4

Workload: Honestly, regardless of your proficiency with advanced maths, the workload is heavy.

Assessment: We only had three SACs. Depending on who you are, this could be a blessing. Or a source of torment.
SAC 1 (Unit 3): Applications of Functions and Calculus
SAC 2: Calculus
SAC 3: Probability
 
Exam Thoughts: Two exams. You are only allowed to use the maths left in your brain for exam 1. And the formula sheet. You have 1 hour of writing time. It contributes 22% to your study score. For exam 2, keep an eye on the clock. It is NOT easier than exam 1. You have more time. But this only gives you more time to waste on doing unnecessary calculations. This exam contributes 44% to your study score. You do the maths when deciding which exam is more important. (Spoiler: everything is important)

Textbook Recommendation: Cambridge textbook.

Recommended Other Resources: Khan Academy. YouTube. Certain people on this forum.

Year of Completion: 2019.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Comments: Oh boy. How can I say this objectively? Without hurting anyone? This subject doesn't mess around. You fell two exercises behind your teacher? Get ready to do extra Methods work that night. You need a thick skin and an incessantly resilient brain to withstand the constant barrage of maths coming your way. Ask classmates and teacher for help before the situation gets out of hand. Don't be ashamed to admit that you just don't understand a particular key concept. I can't sugarcoat it. This subject is difficult, and for all my hard work and tears shed, I didn't get much back in return.
My academic interests include: Ancient History, Geography, and Anthropology.

Geoo

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #71 on: December 15, 2019, 07:45:11 pm »
+2
Subject Name:

Physics

Units:

1/2 (I only did unit 1 though)

Workload:

Below average. Compared to other sciences like chemistry and bio, physics is below average when it comes to workload. There wasn't alot of content to learn, and most of it was just mathematics with a bit of theory sprinkled in. I had a weekly quiz and submission questions and that was it. There was only 2 pracs we did.

Assessment:

There were 4 SACs and one optional exam at the end of the semester. I do not know what they were worth. SAC 1 was thermodynamics, SAC 2 was electricity/ohms law, SAC 3: was particle/nuclear/astrophysics, and I can't remember the fourth. I did not do the exam as I dropped out of the subject.

Textbook Recommendation:

Heinemann 1/2 textbook was used. I only used it once. The teacher never required us to read it or do any practice questions, so it was ultimately useless to me.

Year of Completion:

2019

Rating:

2/5

Your Mark/Grade:

B+ Average

Comments:

The reason why this was rated so low was mainly the teacher, the incredibly dry content, and how it was taught to me. The course was laid out so poorly for me, and all of the assigned work either had errors, or had difficult questions using formulas we weren't taught. I also found the content extremely dry! Thermodynamics and electrical were just so boring to study as it was really just 100% theory. The only topic I liked was particle/astro/nuclear physics, it was engaging and exciting. I found out none of this was going to be in 3/4, so I decided to drop it on top of all my other problems.

So if you love physics, have an awesome teacher, and have the content be correctly taught to you, go for it, The reason I despise it so much was more from a personal experience.
VCE Journey: 2019 - 2020
Biology [38], Chemistry, Methods, Food Studies, English.

Jimmmy

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #72 on: December 29, 2019, 09:27:20 pm »
+4
Subject Name: English Language

Units: 3 & 4

Workload: Moderate (5/10). This subject doesn't gain a lot from bashing your head against books IMO, but more about watching the news, reading widely, understanding social conventions and understanding purposes of language. I probably spent too much time collating content, and if I was to think about something I would've done differently, it would've been studying less for this subject.

Assessment:
Unit 3: Formal & Informal Language - Mostly to do with the varying registers of language, what dictates them, how/why texts/speeches are created, understanding what makes the purpose of particular texts (25% of your SS).

Unit 4: Identity: Australian, Group & Individual - There's so much 'Aussie' in this unit, it's ridiculous. Make sure you understand what is common to the 'Aussie' vocabulary, our culture, and interrelate the two throughout your essays. Australian values such as 'laid-back', 'egalitarian' and 'larrakin' are good to mention, whether you're arguing in favour, or against them being inherent to the Australian identity in present times (25% of your SS).
---------------------------------------
Your SACs will presumably be divided as ours were, into Short Answer, Analytical Commentary and Essay sections, and mirroring the exam. I'll try to specify a quick tip for each.

Short Answer: be specific, answer the question, no more.
Analytical Commentary: Nailing your introduction immediately puts you into the higher range. Make sure you're writing it quickly, concisely, and ensuring your social purposes and functions match the mode, audience and he context of the text.
Essay: Ensure that your contention matches the rest of your essay, and that it is somewhat complex and not dull. You want the teacher/examiner coming out of reading your essay having learnt 'something' new, or being somewhat surprised and therefore interested with what your wrote. As long as it all logically follows, you're in with a very good chance of the high-very high range.

Practice Exams Completed: 12
Exam Thoughts:
15 marks Short Answer, 30 marks Analytical Commentary, 30 marks Essay. one (or two) texts for Short Answer to analyse, one (thus far) text for the AC to analyse, and 3 prompts to choose from in the essay. You can double all these numbers for the exam, as two examiners mark your paper (this is an FYI, especially should you get your statement of marks, so you don't get a shock with numbers!)

The 2019 Exam was, overall, not a difficult one, but I definitely think people over-complicated it, I know I certainly did.

The Short Answer was on a novel excerpt, the only time they've ever used such a text type in an EngLang Exam for either the SA or AC sections. Beware for next year! They may well use in for the AC next time. The other big thing to note from this exam was that there were only 4 questions in the SA section, so they were large marks (3,3,4,5). In terms of marks, I got 23/30 for the SA (so an 11/15 from one examiner, and 12/15 for the other). One thing to be super wary of with novels is not to mistake the social purpose. Many people I spoke to used the social purpose of the narrator, who was a young boy retelling their experiences. In actual fact, they should've been discussing the purpose of the author. Due to receiving my statement of marks, I was able to see how that was marked and managed to get full marks on that first question, despite almost throwing them away in the exam. The other question I wanted to bring up here was Question 3 of the SA. It was on....sentence structures! I legitimately remember talking to a former 45+ EngLang student in the week prior and when I mentioned sentence structures, he told me not to worry too much, as they're probably too boring to discuss in an AC, and haven't ever come up in a SA...well they did. I left this question right to the end of the exam, as I was rushing and hardly finished anyway, but couldn't bear leave a 4 marker blank...and lucky I didn't! I got 5/8 (so a 2 & 3/4 from each examiner). I vaguely remember mentioning something about listing, and discussing the scope of items the boy wanted to mention in a cohesive manner. Obviously I didn't ace it, but it shows that it's important to cover all your bases in revision, as I was still able to scrap out a few marks.

The AC was a Hughesy & Kate radio show transcript. I initially thought I butchered this, bordering on tears after talking to my classmates after talking to them following the exam, as I barely even mentioned the largest social purpose! 19/30 (9/15 & 10/15) was an unbelievable output considering my immediate reaction, and considering I didn't really finish either. I think it can be credited to my uniqueness of examples (I wasn't discussing the use of simple sentences or conjunctions), and the fact I picked out niches in the text, such as the two lines where they asked for callback from the audience, which I hammered on about in relation to Hughesy & Kate's discussion on 'soft drinks'. I guess this shows that even if you miss something major in the text, you can still salvage an AC if you show complexity and detail, as I honestly thought I'd butchered it so badly in the aftermath that I was walking into a barely double digits out of 30. Ultimately, I ended up (somehow) outperforming some of my peers who mentioned far more applicable ideas in the AC after the exam, but must not have gone into them as explicitly.

The Essay had three rather open prompts, and I picked the one along the lines of 'The non-standard varieties of Australian English enrich it' (I can't exactly remember it, but it was close to that). I landed a 24/30 for it, despite some errors that stood out as I walked out of the exam, such as mentioning ethnolects in my introduction, but not going into detail with them anywhere in my Essay, which I think was the main factor in dragging me down from the very high range. As mentioned above, the key part of this essay section was to clearly identity some non-standard varieties, what they do, and how they do, or do not enrich AE. I took the path of finding a complexity, where I discussed indigenous languages (and other varieties), enriching the language insofar as it is 'mutually intelligible'. These trigger phrases are handy, as they come across as complex to an examiner and show your more worldly understanding, and ensure you don't sound the same as every other essay they read. I am by no means a great writer, but ensuring you have these details and complexities (as well as a heap of evidence!) can be crucial in lifting your marks. FYI: Examples, make sure they are as recent as possible. I was following the NSW Police Instagram and I prepared to use their posts as evidence, and had a few other very contemporary examples prepped. As is the nature of social media platforms, these posts can pop up in the weeks, even days before an exam. Use them! You can prep these sources from months before, knowing they're going to have new content come up constantly. Be prepared for it, and ensure you date these examples so the examiners know how interested and thorough you are!

The exam didn't feel great, during, I was sick and after, I felt I'd just thrown away a whole year of work with a bad few hours. I didn't feel any better until getting my score, which I was shocked with. It just shows you that, irrespective of how you feel in an exam, have the faith that your preparation carried you through. My big piece of advice for EngLang exams (and prep) is to not just do heaps of practice exams, but learn the 'typical' characteristics of each AC type, brainstorm structures for every 'type' of essay that could come up, and think about what you'd say for different metalanguage terms in a Short Answer. That way, you can adjust most effectively in the exam, as every text you get will be slightly different to the ones you practice for.

Textbook Recommendation:
Living Lingo, as almost every school I know does. It was a great reference for theory and quotes, despite being somewhat complicated. I wouldn't use this as a 'reference', per se, but instead go through it with a fine tooth comb and make notes off it. Used it regularly, 4-5 times a week.

Recommended Other Resources:
EngLang ATARNotes was moderately useful, especially for the essays they've got at the back! Not much else, to be honest. The online newspaper? Talkback/on the ride home (4-6pm) radio? All of which are crucial to get an understanding of, as you never know what might come up on any SAC, or the end of year exam.  :-X

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 39 (A+, A+, A), where my SACs were mid 80s.

Comments:
This subject is incredibly valuable, giving you an insight into current affairs, how language is being used in contemporary society and different cultures in Australia, and I would highly recommend it. The workload is less than the other two Englishes from what I've seen, but you can score higher than 'naturally gifted' English students by virtue of hard work, reading a lot, keeping up with current affairs and ensuring you understand the metalanguage. I under performed in the exam yet still managed to snag a pretty good score. Despite this, like any other English, there is some subjectivity, as I know some amazing students who must've gotten unlucky with how their exams were read. However, with hard work, I feel like you can really excel in this English with an absence of 'natural talent' more than any other English, and really increase your knowledge about Australian society and how language works, which is one of the things I've felt like I gained most from Year 12.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2019, 09:29:48 pm by Jimmmy »
2018 - 2019 (VCE): English Language, Maths Methods, Legal Studies, Global Politics, Business Management (2018), Philosophy
2020 - 2024: Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Commerce @ Monash University

Jimmmy

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #73 on: December 30, 2019, 12:05:22 am »
+3
Subject Name: Philosophy

Units: 3&4

Workload: High (8/10)

Assessment:
Comprises of short answer questions (2-5 marks), extended response questions (8-10 marks) and essays (20 marks).
U3: 25%
U4: 25%
Exam: 50%

Practice Exams Completed: 2
Exam Thoughts: (What's the structure? How hard was it?)
The examination is worth 70 marks total, divided between 30 marks of short answer questions, 20 marks of extended response (two 10 markers) and an essay, where you have a choice of two prompts.

The examination was tough this year, but rewarded detailed preparation. Important bits to note were the specificity of short answer questions, with one referring to a single paragraph in a 40 odd page Gorgias reading. The extended response was fairly predictable, and it just depended how good your understanding was and how comfortable you were being analytical and writing in a logically critical manner. The essay threw a cat among the pigeons, as each prompt directed us to only use certain philosophers (eg. you must make reference to Susan Wolf or Nietzsche). Make sure you have your own unique point of view that cannot be strictly pigeon-holed to any prescribed philosopher if you want to ensure you do above average in the exam especially.

Textbook Recommendation:
No textbook! You will need to get your hands on the set texts, which our teacher thankfully managed to provide to us (at a small cost). You refer to it quite frequently throughout the year, and need to due to each reading's complexity, but should make your own notes which will eventually become your main reference come October.

Recommended Other Resources:
VAPS run forums roughly around May and September, which I would suggest going to, but they aren't a necessity.

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 3 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 35 (A, B, A)

Comments:
I found this to be the toughest subject to do in VCE. As my own Philosophy teacher professed to me the day we got our results, 'Philosophy is a content-heavy subject which requires you to be nit-picky and specific, is time-consuming and doesn't scale up much'. I didn't enjoy it for most of the year due to a bit of burnout, but really enjoyed preparing for it in October. I gained immensely in terms of life skills (eg. critical thinking, questioning beliefs etc.), despite it taking so much of my time, and not being particularly successful marks wise. I wouldn't recommend this subject in 3/4 personally, but would highly suggest doing it 1/2 before jumping into HHD, PE or Psych in Year 12, which is something I probably should've done had I known how tough 3/4 Philosophy was going to be.
2018 - 2019 (VCE): English Language, Maths Methods, Legal Studies, Global Politics, Business Management (2018), Philosophy
2020 - 2024: Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Commerce @ Monash University

Jimmmy

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Re: VCE Subject Reviews and Ratings
« Reply #74 on: December 30, 2019, 09:10:31 pm »
+3
Subject Name: Maths Methods

Units: 3/4

Workload: Heavy (9/10)

Assessment:
SACs: 33% (we had six SACs throughout the year, divided evenly with each being worth 5.5%, however I know most schools elect to do two or three SACs in the year. Each SAC is divided into two parts, tech-free and tech-active, with the tech-active questions usually being longer and more strenuous).
Examination #1: 22% (tech-free, the questions can get difficult, but usually comprise of no more than 3-4 parts).
Examination #2: 44% (tech active, usually with 4-5 questions with many parts of each, with each question centering around one particular point of theory in the study design (eg. probability, integration, statistics etc.)

FYI: for the last 5-6 years, Exam #1 has been the Wednesday morning following Cup Day, with Exam #2 being the following afternoon, so be prepared for that Cup weekend!

Number of Practice Exams: #1: 19, #2: 7
Exam Thoughts: (What's the structure? How hard was it?)
There's really not much to say here after I went over the tech-free vs. tech-active differences above. Exam #1 is worth 40 marks and Exam #2 is worth 80. One major piece of advice that I'd give is to not only make sure you read every question in reading time, but identify the questions you can, and cannot do. If I'm honest with myself, I pretty much knew exactly what I was able, and unable to answer during reading time for both exams, and bar one bad slip up early in Exam 1, and a couple of sections that my mind blanked on in Exam 2 (most probably due to doing Philosophy earlier that day), I was right. Maximise your score, and don't be too proud or too arrogant when you're in that exam room.

Textbook Recommendation: (What did you use? How much did you use it?)
Cambridge Senior Mathematics was a great resource for questions, both textbook ones and those we could complete on the online interactive platform in mini-tests and topic summaries. I used it frequently, all the way up to early October before really smashing out the majority of my practice exams.

Recommended Other Resources:
The ATARNotes Methods book was exceptional as a summary, and I even used it as my bound for my first few exams without too much trouble. Edrolo & ATARNotes Topic Tests were a great source of questions, and the checkpoints is something most people found useful even though I didn't use it, and that's probably something I do wish I had done to increase my SS a little.

Year of Completion: 2019

Rating: 3 out of 5

Your Mark/Grade: 32

Comments: Give your overall opinion of the subject, content, assessment etc. and a recommendation, plus anything else which you feel is relevant.
This is a very tough subject, probably required the most work and effort throughout the year to maintain, and still ended up being my worst score! I walked into 3/4 with much higher expectations (not one of those 'only for the prerequisite' people), having done very well in 1/2, but ultimately Year 12 is Year 12, and as the saying goes, 'easier said than done'. It was fulfilling for me, a good journey, and I liked Maths somewhat so it wasn't as grueling as it was for others. Nonetheless, if you want to hit that 40 like I'd hoped at the beginning of the year, you must put in an extreme amount of work. I was spending 12-13 hours on Methods a week alone outside class, so expect to do far more than that to get 40, or be really good at the out-of-the-box style of Maths that you need to excel in this subject.
2018 - 2019 (VCE): English Language, Maths Methods, Legal Studies, Global Politics, Business Management (2018), Philosophy
2020 - 2024: Bachelor of Laws (Honours)/Bachelor of Commerce @ Monash University