QCE Tips and Tricks to Get You Through

By Anne Quan in QCE
15th of July 2019
How to do well in QCE.

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Recently, I have had a lot of nervous Year 11 students ask me about how they should prepare for their final year of high school. Well… working hard is a must, but it’s even more important to work SMART! You want to be as efficient as possible when it comes to studying, because QCE is a race against the clock. You want to be able to have enough time to prepare and be well-equipped for assessments, and be able to retain as much information as possible in a short amount of time. So here are some of my tips for working smart:



The summer break is the best time to begin English preparation. It is the perfect opportunity to read through all of your English texts and to familiarise yourself with some of the ideas that are presented.

English is all about developing and expressing your own interpretation of the themes, characters and ideas. The best students are those that stand out from the crowd. They tend to have a very individualistic and in-depth understanding of the themes and ideas. This next step is vital for giving you the best head start possible.


Literary articles:

Go online and search for literary articles on your set texts. Literary articles are interpretations written by scholars who have done extensive research into the themes and characters of the texts, and tend to touch on social, psychological, political, ethical and scientific aspects. It is a good idea to note down these ideas. Of course, you do not need to agree with everything in these articles, but they can act as a springboard for you to develop your own interpretations.

Doing this during the holidays means that as soon as school starts, the rest of your peers will be just introduced to the ideas, whereas you’ve already developed a substantial understanding. This means that you can start writing essays earlier, increasing your chances of performing well on your internal assessments.



Use different coloured tabs for your novels to represent different themes. This makes it easier for you to organise any ideas associated with certain themes. As themes tend to be evident throughout the novels, it allows you to draw connections between different parts of the texts. If your text has certain motifs, you can also use tabs to identify these.


Class discussions:

Class discussions are very important in feeding your interpretation of ideas. Your teacher will introduce you to the major ideas that you need to be aware of, and your classmates will definitely have their say in what they think about the text.

When a classmate says “I don’t agree with this”, that is the best thing you want to hear. This will sound strange, but you want debate and tension. Ideas will be thrown left and right, allowing you to engage in different perspectives of the same idea, giving you the depth you need for an interpretation.



Character tables with descriptions, quotes, themes and interpretations are a good way to summarise everything you’ve learnt from the literary articles, tabbing and class discussions. Make sure you add to them throughout the year. This will really prepare you for your internal assessments and exam! You can also access a whole range of free notes here.



Work ahead:

For these types of subjects, working ahead will be hugely beneficial. Application subjects involve solving questions more so than just memorising information. Working ahead means that if you come across questions that you can’t solve or concepts you don’t understand, you can use class time to ask your teacher or to clarify anything that may be confusing. This gives you an advantage, because your peers are only just introduced to the topic, whereas you are already strengthening your understanding.

Working ahead also means that you can complete the class work early and have more time to prepare for internal assessments. You should always leave at least one full week to prepare and do practice assessments.


TIPS FOR CONTENT-HEAVY SUBJECTS (Psychology, humanities, Biology)

Note taking:

Note taking doesn’t have to boring. Be creative with it! When you manipulate information using some of the techniques listed below, it helps you to understand the information better than just copying down sentences word-for-word from the textbook.

Make tables for comparing similar concepts.

Make labelled diagrams/posters to collate information visually. Try and use different colours. Trust me, you’re more likely to remember a colourful diagram than a slab of dot points. This is because colour stimulates the brain, making it easier to recall.

If you do write dot points, don’t write in sentences. Write in short phrases or words. Abbreviate words that you often use (i.e. abbreviate system into “syst”); you can even use symbols to represent certain words (draw a “coin” every time you need to write the word “money”). Our brain loves anything short and sweet because we are more likely to recall it. It’s the same as how we can remember short names easier rather than long ones.


Revise frequently:

It is very important that you read through your notes constantly throughout the year. I know it sounds tedious, but it’s going to help you out in the long term! This means that you won’t have to cram loads of information right before your internal assessments or exams.

After one day of learning the information, we only retain about 50-60% of it, and after one week we’ve forgotten about 90% of the information. Make sure you go home and read through the notes on the day that you have learned the information, and repeat this throughout the week. As you begin to retain more and more of this information, you can then read over the notes less frequently, changing from once a day to maybe once a week depending on your retention confidence.



You will be surprised with how much you can remember just by getting adequate sleep. After revising your notes, sleep will allow your brain to organise the information and form new connections, so that you can quickly recall the information during a test/exam.



Focus more on the process instead of the marks. I know it’s difficult to not think about the marks because they do contribute to your ATAR, but stressing yourself out over one bad mark isn’t going to help you do better. Remember, your marks aren’t always a good reflection of your capabilities. You may have been feeling sick or got too nervous on the day, which may have affected your performance. So getting a “bad” mark doesn’t always mean that you’re bad at the subject. You’re better off focussing on efficient studying techniques to help you perform to the best of your ability. You can only do your best, so work hard with no regrets!

Avoid comparing yourself to your peers. Everyone will have different strengths and weaknesses, so don’t beat yourself up if your marks fall short of your friends’. We aren’t perfect, so there are bound to be subjects we’re more capable of than others. You should use that energy to focus on your own study habits and your own performance. Remember, to overcome QCE you need to have a healthy mind and positive thinking. Break downs and stress will degrade your performance, so be confident in your ability to do your best.

Looking for more info and free resources for QCE? Check out these resources!