How to Do Well in Your QCE Subjects

By Nick McIndoe in QCE
14th of June 2019
how to study qce

You will probably see subject-specific guides all the time. “How to smash QCE Biology”, “Tips for doing well in QCE English”, “Nailing the QCE Methods exam” and so on. And those resources are great for what they are: insights into how to really maximise your marks in specific subjects. But I want to speak about something a little beyond that in this article: not just how to do well in one subject, but in all of them.

I was pretty consistent across all of my Year 12 subjects. Throughout my Year 12 experience, I developed some good habits in terms of consistency, and not wildly fluctuating in marks between subjects. Doing consistently well is, obviously, not a simple task, but I hope that some of the thoughts in this article will help you to balance your subjects throughout your QCE experience.


1. Don’t fall into the trap of only studying for the subjects you most enjoy

In one way, it definitely makes sense – if you love Bio and hate Spesh, you’re not going to study for Spesh that much on the face of it. But you’re obviously going to have to study for Spesh at some point. And this is where having the discipline to study a wide range of subjects come into play.

On so many occasions, I wanted to study for the subjects I enjoyed more, which is natural. I actually took it too far in the end, and spent, for example, a lot of my maths classes working on my design folio. I almost completely neglected maths throughout the year in order to have more time for my other subjects but, at the end of the day, my result for maths was actually higher than for some other subjects. Huge injustice, but my ATAR probably would have benefitted had I adopted a more balanced approach, here.

vce subjects

Some students try to play it strategically by working out their best subjects, but my example above shows it’s actually very difficult to predict which subjects will place where. Throughout the year, I was positive one certain subject would be one of my best subjects – probably my best. But how wrong I was – it actually ended up being my worst subject!

The reason for this uncertainty, of course, is that you’re not just competing against yourself. Getting Bs in English and Ds in Methods doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do better in English in the end; there are very many factors at play in the QCE system.


2. Use subjects as a break

If you’ve been studying Physics for the last few days and just feel completely sick of it, perhaps you can use Geography study as a bit of a break! I know it might sound weird, but I actually enjoyed smashing through some study for subjects I didn’t enjoy so much with the knowledge that I could get back to my favourites when I was done.

Get through Business Studies? Cool – now you can get back to that Chemistry work you (relatively) love!

Stuff like that really helped me get through the year, of course, but also helped to balance out my load. I really didn’t want to neglect the subjects I didn’t like as much, so I instead decided to reward myself with my favourites. It might not be as nice a reward as, say, finding $100 in the street, but as far as QCE study goes, it’s a pretty good strategy.


3. Don’t try to nail every subject every day

Considering the nature of this article, some might expect advice to be like, “make sure you study each subject at least a little bit all the time – that way you can do well in all of them!” But I really don’t think that’s necessary, or perhaps even conducive to doing well.

I tended to focus on one or two subjects at a time. Perhaps, say, one subject before school, and one subject after. Or one subject through the day, and one in the evening. What I found was that if I tried to cram all this different information in my head at once, I became really overwhelmed; if I could simplify what I was doing on any given day, on the other hand, things seemed a lot more manageable.

more manageable

I didn’t have a formal schedule for this. That is, there was never a time where I thought, “okay, on Thursday, I must only study Psychology and Business”. I honestly just studied what I felt was most necessary at the time. My personal issue with things like study timetables is that it basically locks you in to studying certain things or at certain times, and life just isn’t that predictable. And this brings us to the next point.


4. Prioritise subjects if you need to

It might suck at various times, but if you have to put a subject on the back-burner for a few days for sake of another subject, then so be it. There’s only so much you can do in QCE, and you really have to play by the rules your school gives you. If you have a Literature assessment in two days but no Chem assessments for weeks, it probably makes sense to dedicate the next 48 hours to Lit study – even if you much prefer Chem.

This is, really, part of what people refer to when they speak about “studying smart”. QCE is largely about strategy, dedication and discipline. Strategy regarding what, how and when you study. Dedication regarding the effort you invest. And discipline regarding making the choices needed to consistently do the little things right. Prioritising subjects in this way is one of those (important) little things.


5. Pick subjects you enjoy

And finally, if you’ve not yet started Year 12, this one is for you (but it also applies to current Year 12s for sake of university etc.). Choosing QCE subjects you actually have an interest in is, really, perhaps the most important thing of all. If you take subjects you hate, how much harder do you think it will be to motivate yourself to study and, therefore, to do well? Spoiler: much harder.

“But what about scaling?!” The effects of scaling are, in my opinion, overblown. Scaling exists for a reason – and that reason is to make the playing field equal. It’s not designed to unfairly advantage or disadvantage anybody in particular. All but one of my subjects scaled down, and the one that scaled up only did so negligibly. And at the end of the day, you can’t control it!

Wishing you nothing but the best for the remainder of your QCE journey!

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