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geek123456

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99+atar..what did you do differently?
« on: January 28, 2019, 12:18:38 am »
0
Hi,
I was just wondering what do the top one percent of the state does differently from the other ninety nine percent of the people in terms of study techniques?
Like what was your way of approaching sacs/exams
Your study routine on weekdays and weekends
How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead
How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook
How early and frequently to do practice exams etc
I understand it varies person to person and that there is no magical formula that will lead you to success..just trying to get some ideas to make sure I am on the right path of figuring out what works for me
P. S this post is not limited to the 90+ people... It's targeted to all those who found any type of study tips and tricks that led to immense improvement
Cheers
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 09:02:13 am by geek123456 »
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smamsmo22

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2019, 01:24:00 am »
+13
Hey! There are some fantastic guides and threads over AN with great and proven study tips if you'd like to check those out (: For what it's worth, I did get an ATAR in the high 99s so I can give you some answers but I can't guarantee you'll find them overly helpful or applicable for yourself (I hope that you get something out of it though!!

Your questions:

What was your way of approaching sacs/exams? How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead
I feel like my responses to these 2 are pretty similar; make sure that from the beginning of the year you familiarise yourself with your SAC calendar (if your school provides you with one- if not, make sure your SAC dates are written down as early as possible and regularly check this). Knowing what's coming up in terms of SACs/assessment is so useful for avoiding feeling unprepared/stressed and cramming, and for prioritising what you have to do each night/week to prepare. I always knew what SACs were coming up so I could start study early, and tbh the more familiar you are with your upcoming assessments the less daunting they feel (:

Your study routine on weekdays and weekends
I studied after school at school for a few hours most days. We had a study room at school which was quiet and distraction free- I could get a lot more done there than I could at home and it also meant I didn't have to lug books/work home. I also started study pretty soon after school ended. This doesn't work for some but for me, the longer I waited to start, the more I'd put it off. That being said, I finished study before dinner and rarely studied after dinner. I don't even think there was more than 1-2 nights I was up past 10 because of study the whole year.
Weekends; tended to differ depending on what I had on. I worked around sporting commitments/plans but managed to get in at least a couple of hours each day if needed. I would usually write a manageable checklist of things to get done on the two days (didn't study too much on Friday nights anyway) and work through them.
I didn't have a subject based study plan or anything; the subjects I studied/ the studying/work I did was completely based on what I had on. I'd usually complete homework tasks first and then spend the remainder of my study time preparing for whatever sacs were coming up. Even if you don't have much homework I recommend you still using the time you'd usually do it in to study/prep. You'll be thankful later (:

How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook
Hmm, on one hand, I think that a big problem for students is relying too much on the textbook. Your number one resource is your study design. Every textbook is different, but most contain a lot more info than what you actually need.
On another note, I'll add that I never bought additional notes or study guides. It's up to you if you would like to but its definitely not necessary. Just make sure whatever (trustworthy resource) you're using, that it's in conjunction with the study design. There's no use having stacks of notes on content VCAA isn't going to ask you about.
However, looking into alternate resources like podcasts or videos can be helpful for some people. And, of course, the forums!!

How early and frequently to do practice exams etc
I don't remember doing practice exams until term 3, I think, and I really tried to brush up on my knowledge of the year's worth of content before starting them rather than diving straight in. When it comes to revision, in the beginning, focus on refining the parts you've forgotten or particularly found difficult, then start with the practice exams. I'd say generally, continuously increase the number you do/distribution of time you spend on them as they get closer. That being said, make sure you leave yourself with enough practice exams/time to get comfortable with them. Some people don't do many practice exams but for me, they were my best revision resource in terms of preparing for what VCAA was going to ask. Just make sure you're correcting them using assessors reports and really taking notice of the examiners' recommendations. Getting 50% on a practice exam and learning from your errors is more helpful than getting a 100%. Also, Imo, knowing the content and knowing how to answer VCAA's questions in a way that they deem correct regarding the content are two different things (:

tldr, you don't need to study non stop/spend lots of money/stress excessively/complete 100 practice exams to get a high 90s ATAR. You also don't need a high 90 ATAR to feel satisfied/get a good job/consider your year a success. The examiners aren't gods, but they are the ones - more or less - determining your ATAR, so if you want to maximise it, familiarise yourself with the study design and marking guidelines the examiners have constructed. And; be confident, be persistent and don't take it all too seriously!!! If you want any more assistance or ever want a chat, feel free to PM me (:
Best of luck; hopefully this helped in some way!!
2018 - VCE - ATAR: 99.75 [English, Chemistry, Methods, French, PE, Bio]
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Joseph41

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2019, 10:30:49 am »
+8
Hi,
I was just wondering what do the top one percent of the state does differently from the other ninety nine percent of the people in terms of study techniques?
Like what was your way of approaching sacs/exams
Your study routine on weekdays and weekends
How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead
How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook
How early and frequently to do practice exams etc
I understand it varies person to person and that there is no magical formula that will lead you to success..just trying to get some ideas to make sure I am on the right path of figuring out what works for me
P. S this post is not limited to the 90+ people... It's targeted to all those who found any type of study tips and tricks that led to immense improvement
Cheers

Yo! :)

To answer your questions one by one:

"I was just wondering what do the top one percent of the state does differently from the other ninety nine percent of the people in terms of study techniques?"
Honestly, I think I was just consistent. Didn't do anything particularly amazing or ground-breaking - just steady work throughout the year, and treated each SAC and exam with respect. Didn't take any marks for granted. Made sure I knew definitions when relevant, formulae when relevant etc.

"Like what was your way of approaching sacs/exams"
Lots of summaries for content-heavy subjects, then tested myself to ensure I know the relevant concepts. Many practice questions. Tried to have everything done at least 1-2 days out before the SAC/exam so I never had to cram.

"Your study routine on weekdays and weekends"
Got to school a little early and left a little late. Practically never studied at home on weekdays, and never studied at nights. Weekends - from memory just a bit here and there, but never really had full days of studying until the end of the year before exams.

"How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead"
Started early on revision, made sure I asked about my mistakes/what I didn't understand, rinse and repeat.

"How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook"
I don't think you should depend on anything tbh, including the textbook.

"How early and frequently to do practice exams etc"
Depends on time of year, but even then, no good answer. I did dozens of practice exams for HHD and got the same score as a work colleague who did zero. There's a lot more to it.
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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2019, 11:29:35 am »
+7
Some really good advice given by posters above me. It's not a surprise that there will be a lot of overlap within these responses. I'll add what I can anyway.

Like what was your way of approaching sacs/exams

Understand,  apply, practice. A common mistake people make is that they try to memorise things rather than understand them. Remember that exams test how you apply your knowledge to new and unfamiliar scenarios. If you just try to memorise a few questions and how you did them, you will struggle. One of the greatest examples of this was the 2017 VCE Chemistry exam with the Mars question. Soooo many people were absolutely thrown off by the question in that it was very atypical and probably different to anything they had practiced. However, the key ideas every student had learnt throughout the year could still be applied. But the key word there is >applied< rather than >regurgitated<. Make sure you understand what you do and follow this with applying your knowledge on a ton of practice questions. Looking over notes and stuff has its place but so does doing  past exam questions early in the year.

Your study routine on weekdays and weekends
I just want to say before I answer this that barely anyone sticks to a solid study routine all year. There will be times where you are burnt out and won't want to open your bag at home. I know this for me for the first two weeks of term 3. It's completely normal. What is important is that you plan ahead  and make sure you aren't affected massively by the inevitable burnout. But more on this later.

Typically I stayed back after school till about 5:30-6 everyday and continued on studying from school work and made sure to get help if I needed it.
After that I probably max did 2-3 hours once I was at home. I made sure that I slept at 11 everyday without fail and this was really important to me. Make sure to maintain a good sleep cycle. If you are organised you shouldn't have to ever do an 'all nighter' before a sac or an exam.

Weekends was pretty much do whatever I had to really. If there wasn't much to do I chilled but if I had a sac coming up I sometimes spent 4-5 hours each day on the weekend. I guess you really just have to have an idea of how much work you need to do.

How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead

Be organised and stay ahead!
I religiously used my calendar and this really helped. Essentially a goal I set for the year was that I would spend a minimum of two weeks studying for any SAC that I had. So what I did was, at the start of the year, use the assessment schedule my school provided and placed a calendar event on the day of the SAC and one two weeks before it. This made sure that I had adequate time to study for my SACs even if there were other things that came up. This relates to the burn out I talked about earlier. Like I said, at the start of term 3 I burned out quite hard in that I did not study at home at all for a whole two weeks. However, leading up to that point I had set up myself up well in that I was roughly 3 weeks ahead of the class in all of my subjects. So all that happened when I burnt out was my 3 week lead turned into a 1 week lead. So despite burning out, I was not impacted in a massive way as I prepared for the inevitable. I cannot stress how important this is.

As for actually preparing for SACs, I pretty much made my own notes and then spammed practice SACs and Exam questions. Often students rely on textbook questions and think that Exams will be similar. However this is veryyy wrong.  Just have a look at a Methods textbook and then compare that to a VCAA exam. Essentially, a textbook sets up your foundations by repeating specific parts of the curriculum multiple times. On the other hand, exams often require you to bring together things you have learnt across the year from multiple parts of the study design to answer  questions. You will NOT get that sort of practice from textbook questions or even SACs. This is because both of these often target specific areas of study  rather than stepping back and making you synthesise your knowledge.
Make sure to practice with exam questions across the year. Super important.

How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook
A common misconception held by students is that the VCAA somehow endorses textbooks or works together with them or even worked on them.
In reality, the VCAA simply publishes a  study design that it will assess and it is up to these companies to decide what to include in their textbook and what not. It is for this reason there have been cases where the VCAA  assessed something that was literally non-existent in certain textbooks. The textbook makers likely did not cater for the study design in an adequate way.

Your guide should be the study design. Make your notes by looking at the study design, not the textbook. The study design literally tells you what you need to know whereas textbooks often put a lot of irrelevant stuff in. Your textbook should be a resource that helps you make notes on certain dot points of the study design. You will, however, sometimes find that the textbook clearly does not talk about a certain thing you need to know. An example I found last year was  regarding this point in the Chemistry study design 'comparison of glucose, fructose, sucrose and the artificial sweetener
aspartame with reference to their structures and energy content'.  The heinemann Chemistry  12 textbook didn't answer this at all! So I did have to make use of external resources. If a question such as 'compare the energy content of glucose, fructose, sucrose and aspartame' came up in the exam, many many people would  have been screwed over.

Make use of a wide variety of resources including things like  other textbooks, youtube and scientific studies.



How early and frequently to do practice exams etc

For most subjects there are so many practice exams that you absolutely will not finish them all. Don't feel like you are wasting exams by doing them early. Personally I started doing exams for some of my subjects in July/August. Just make sure to leave the most recent ones (including NHT ones)  for a week or two before the actual exam.
I also wouldn't rely on commercial exams too much. For some subjects like Chem I did only about 1-2 Commercial exams but made sure to do every single VCAA one. Yes,  that means the ones from early 2000s too. You just have to make sure you know what is relevant and what isn't.
Methods commercial exams are a bit better but  I still would only recommend MAV and Heffernan.


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LifeisaConstantStruggle

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2019, 05:12:24 pm »
+2
Probably don't have the highest ATAR but I'll have a crack at these questions, even though I've refined my study techniques beyond year 12.

What was your way of approaching sacs/exams?
I was and am probably the laziest student in my year, but I do have strategies based on subjects. For English, I'd normally just type notes and dot-points for prompts, or go through 1 to 2 articles for argument analysis. For content heavy subjects (Bio or Chem) I'd read the material provided by the teacher and a FEW practice questions (basically the bare minimum). Sometimes I'd hop on to ATARnotes and look at questions/answers by other forum users which I thought actually helped me a ton. I studied a bit more for maths though, but that's still just doing Checkpoint questions and practice SACs provided by my teacher.

Your study routine on weekdays and weekends?
I'd allocate different tasks a day instead of time, and do it constantly. Normally it ranges from 2-3 on weekdays and 4-5 on weekends. Tasks include revising content (didn't make actual notes aside from the usual scribble), doing checkpoint questions or even trying some VCAA exam questions.

How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead?
Not burden myself with too much extra work, and focus on knowing what I have to understand well I guess.

How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook?
First of all there's nothing wrong with purchasing third-party resources, but I'd suggest to refrain from anything aside from VCAA and school material if possible (but if you think you need extra guidance feel free to do so). Directly interpreting the study design worked better for me, which helped with self-study techniques that let you do well in year 12 and of course beyond year 12.

How early and frequently to do practice exams etc?
ASAP. If your subjects had old VCAA exams that are explicitly split into U3 and 4 you can do U3 after you're finished with the content. Otherwise start when you're done with the content as a whole. This is really subjective but I guess focusing on VCAA exams are quite sufficient. Notice your mistakes, record it, and move on.
2016-2017: VCE (ATAR: 99.3)
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TheBigC

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2019, 06:03:51 pm »
+1
Understand ALL of the material in the study design. Understand it better than anyone in your classes. Try to understand it better than your teachers. This should get you at least a 99.00 ATAR. Now, for the 99.95 or the high 99s: you should actually work hard. This is where I failed - I didn't put in the work. So I ended up with a pretty.... mediocre score.

Also. Don't trust anyone. Do not trust all of your textbooks (they make mistakes too - many, in fact!). Research as much as possible and try to verify important information with multiple sources. VCAA solutions are pretty useful here (note: VCAA often make errors too LOL!).

Good Luck.

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2019, 06:06:01 pm »
+5
So I ended up with a pretty.... mediocre score.

Totally understand this is your perspective and that's sweet, but just for context, a 99+ ATAR is in the top 1% and is, therefore, pretty phenomenal - at least from my perspective!

EDIT: I think it's very easy to see what seems like heaps of people post their super high scores and advice for stuff - even as we've seen in this thread - and start to think that it's the norm. Just want to make it clear that it's absolutely not the norm. The average ATAR is usually like ~65, and only a tiny proportion of students ultimately achieve a 99+.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 06:07:34 pm by Joseph41 »
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TheBigC

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2019, 06:07:24 pm »
0
Totally understand this is your perspective and that's sweet, but just for context, a 99+ ATAR is in the top 1% and is, therefore, pretty phenomenal - at least from my perspective!

I appreciate these kind words, but, unfortunately - I finished unhappy. I knew I could do more. So it hurt a lot. This is why hard work is so important. Without it, you lose all of that satisfaction.

Joseph41

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2019, 06:08:47 pm »
+3
I appreciate these kind words, but, unfortunately - I finished unhappy. I knew I could do more. So it hurt a lot. This is why hard work is so important. Without it, you lose all of that satisfaction.

Yep, that's understandable - your Year 12 journey is your own, and your own only. Nobody can really tell you how to feel or whatever because ultimately, you're the only one that can make that call! I've made an amendment to my post though, as follows:

"I think it's very easy to see what seems like heaps of people post their super high scores and advice for stuff - even as we've seen in this thread - and start to think that it's the norm. Just want to make it clear that it's absolutely not the norm. The average ATAR is usually like ~65, and only a tiny proportion of students ultimately achieve a 99+."
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huity

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2019, 10:24:27 pm »
+4
    I think there's been fantastic tips and strategies raised. What you probably notice is that everyone has their own unique method of learning. There's not only one way to achieve a 99+ ATAR. So it's important that you spend the first few weeks experimenting what works for you  ;D

Like what was your way of approaching sacs/exams

I'll focus on my approach to SACs since I modified my approach for exams.

1. Know exactly what the SAC is testing, its format (short answer or multiple choice) and how long it goes for. This is important so you're mentally prepared and you have a plan of attack e.g. multiple choice then short answer questions. Some students also skip classes during SAC season to study for their SACs, but often in the lessons leading up to the SACs, your teacher might give you a few pointers/ hints! So be sure to attend class... especially close to SACs  ;)

2. Have a list of everything you want to get done before the SAC and in order of priority. e.g. #1 Practice SACs/ questions from School, #2 Practice SACs/ questions from companies, #3 Summarised notes understood and memorised (if need be)  :D

3. Go into the SAC with calm and collected (I know, a lot easier said than done)! What I found effective was not talking to peers in the few minutes leading up to the SAC stressing. Instead, I took some time to myself, strolling around the school garden. Find what works for you  :)

4. Ask seniors/ those who have done the subject for tips and advice. In particular, ask those from your school/ those who had the same teacher so you know what to expect. For example, from casually talking to some seniors, I found that my teacher loves to test certain concepts   :P[/li][/list]

Your study routine on weekdays and weekends

I doubt there's anyone who sticks to their routine 100% and that's completely fine  ;D
 
1. On the weekends, I studied at home whereas I headed to the school library on weekdays. Perks of staying at school include being able to ask your teachers questions after hours. However, often I'd bump into friends and talking to them took priority over studying. So it completely depends on the atmosphere at your school library as to whether you find it effective or not.

2. Some plan what they'll be doing every 5 mins of their life with timetables, but I found that terrible for me! Sometimes plans change, so I preferred writing a to do list (ordered in terms of priority) of everything I had to get done.

How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead


1. As smamsmo22 and Lear mentioned, the assessment calendars with approximate dates of SACs are hidden gems! The high achievers aren't necessarily the smartest. Instead, they keep on top of what needs to be done and when everything is. The early detection of "SAC season" (when you have a ton of SACs back to back) is key. After all, how are we to plan ahead if we don't know what is ahead?  ;)

2. Seniors once again are of huge help here. Take a look at headings/ anything bolded in the textbook/ your teachers' notes as well. This is so you can distinguish the high-yield information and low-yield information. Before starting any topic, I tried to achieve an broad and holistic view of what the main ideas were, before zoning in on the details and nitty gritty.

How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook

As Joseph41 mentioned, never rely solely on a single resource. Instead look at different resources: the study design, company notes, Youtube videos, etc. Of course, however, keep in mind that they all could contain errors. Plus, most Youtube videos aren't tailored towards VCE. Always check with your teacher/ tutor.

How early and frequently to do practice exams etc

1. I started doing practice exam questions when we were learning the topic. As frequently repeated here, textbook questions (beside chapter review) can give a false sense of security. Focus on exam-style questions early-on so you see what is commonly tested and what the common traps are.

2. However, I only started doing full practice exams after I finished the course content in October. In order of priority, I completed all VCAA exams including NHT and sample exams (from most recent to the oldest). This included all relevant questions from even the 2002 Chemistry exams. My second priority were company exams from the current study design (from most recent to the oldest once again). My last priority were company exams from the previous study design. I didn't even get to my this!

3. You'll often find that what commercial companies say contradict what VCAA says. Obviously stick with VCAA. Sometimes, VCAA even seems to contradict themselves. Always use the latest information from VCAA.

4. You'll also find that some commercial exams are ridiculously hard (I'm looking at Lisachem chemistry exams especially in recent years). They're honestly a waste of your precious time in Year 12. Focus on what VCAA wants, rather than unrealistic exams.

As always, let me know if you have any questions  ;D
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 10:32:32 pm by liz.h »
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HughMungus

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2019, 08:49:49 pm »
+1
I would actually try in class as opposed to just getting by in your classwork and SACs... It is the little silly mistakes that add up in the exam which pulls you away from that fabled 40+ score per subject. Make sure you know your subjects inside out and have more than enough practice to make sure your strike rate is close to 100% for easy questions on the exams. Also work on speed, when I was in y12, I trained to complete papers well within time limits with ample time to spare for checking the exam. For example, I would complete a Methods/Spech Paper 1 in <20 mins whilst aiming for a 100% strike rate which gave me enough time to do the paper 3 times on the real deal within the allocated hour. Take this with a grain of salt tho cause some people are better off with slow and steady... I just liked having the satisfaction of having completed the paper well within time :)

Also if you want a 99+ don't ignore English... it legit cost me .95 :'(

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smamsmo22

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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2019, 11:37:00 pm »
0
"Your study routine on weekdays and weekends"
Got to school a little early and left a little late. Practically never studied at home on weekdays, and never studied at nights. Weekends - from memory just a bit here and there, but never really had full days of studying until the end of the year before exams.

Funny; I was exactly the same. It was hard to find people who had a similar nightly schedule to me.. it feels like everyone's up til so late finishing (or starting...) study these days. :)
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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2019, 05:15:49 pm »
0
Funny; I was exactly the same. It was hard to find people who had a similar nightly schedule to me.. it feels like everyone's up til so late finishing (or starting...) study these days. :)

Yeah! I guess it's really a personal thing, but I really, really struggle to study at night.
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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2019, 01:25:49 pm »
+3

Y'all may also find this useful. :)
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Re: 99+atar..what did you do differently?
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2019, 09:18:38 pm »
+2
"Like what was your way of approaching sacs/exams"
For sacs I would write summaries of all the information given in class. I usually wouldn't have done this more than a week out from a sac so it was fresh in my mind! Doesn't work for everyone hahaha and definitely disadvantaged me for end of year exams, but got me up there for sacs. I think constant revision is more key to understanding the content and feeling prepared for the exams.

"Your study routine on weekdays and weekends"
Weekdays I wouldn't start studying until maybe 8pm and would study until 11ish, while on facebook at the same time hahaha so not 3 hours straight. I would use class time and frees really efficiently though and get most homework smashed out in those short blocks.
Weekends I would usually leave most studying til Sunday, and study on and off all day while watching the footy hahaha. Just getting little tasks done, like a single exercise of maths or a few chem questions would be enough and then I'd have a break.

"How you made sure you were ready for the tasks ahead"
I made sure I was ready by triple checking my calendar constantly throughout the year to ensure I was on top of everything happening. I would also make flashcards after summarising my notes to double consolidate the information, and I would do as many prac sacs in test conditions as I could. Ultimately, however, you can never be certain that you're ready for an upcoming sac, you can only trust that you've done enough :) and for me that was just finishing my notes before the sac came around.

"How much should one depend on resources outside the main textbook"
I only really used my textbook + checkpoints, and my teacher's own notes. If I really needed to research something I was unsure about, I would, and then I would check with my teacher. However, you probably would benefit from doing more in-depth learning online, etc, as you shouldn't be memorising information from your textbook, but rather you should understand the concepts your textbook is conveying.

"How early and frequently to do practice exams etc"
I did practice exams from about a month out and kept track of how many of each subject, trying to do at least 10 per subject. However, this has little indication of how well you will do in the subject as it's by far more important to learn the content than just straight out do practice exams. I'd say practice exams help more with how to phrase specific answers and the types of questions you're likely to see as vcaa exams tend to be formulaic for a lot of subjects. But, for instance, for chemistry I was doing my prac exams open book until maybe 4 days before the exam because I knew I didn't have a super strong grasp on the content. So I'd say start exams once you feel like you know the content well enough.
In terms of how frequently, it really depends on the subject.
For english, I would aim to do one essay a day, whereas for spec I would do one exam every 2 or 3 days. You really have to balance the exams you're doing for each subject though too and not just give all your energy to one subject. I gave myself a maximum of 4 prac exams a day, but in reality I'd be doing maybe 2 or 3 a day, and sometimes I'd do none! It really just depends on how you're feeling, if you're burnt out or think you need to brush up on a concept don't do an exam, just revise !

Sorry if I'm just repeating what everyone has already said above!!!
2017 ATAR: 99.00
2018: Laws (Honours) / Biomedical Science @ Monash University