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How to survive Year 12

How to survive Year 12


Anyone who has completed high school will tell you the final year is a challenge. The stakes are high, and the pressure to perform at your peak can really stress you out. So, how can you do your best and get through the year? 

We asked first year Bachelor of Physiotherapy student Tom Brunckhorst how he survived.

You made it through Year 12 with great results, can you tell us how you approached your studies?

“I was driven to get into a physio course. It was hard to find the balance between friends, sport and school, but I found ways to have fun with my friends in class (productively of course). Making the most of my time at school lightened the load mentally while we waded through the thick fog of classroom and study commitments. School is where I gained the knowledge, and home is where I’d review the day. 

I gave myself a schedule. After school and a couple hours of volleyball and rugby practice, I’d study until 10pm and get through as much work as I could. Knowing I only had until 10pm forced my study to be productive. This gave me a chance to recover and relax before bed so my subconscious could review the information as I slept.”   

Are there any tips you can offer about preparing for exams?

“Start early ¬– don’t leave things until the last minute and make sure you are top of your subjects throughout the year. That means when it comes time for an exam or assessment, you aren’t starting from scratch and can spend that time on final reviews and revisions.”

Tips for managing tests or assessments?

“When I sat down for tests for subjects that have more definitive answers like maths or science, the best thing for me was to quickly skim through the entire booklet’s questions so I’d have an idea of what the test paper wants of me. 

When starting the test, I’d head straight for the easy ones. I’d be thinking subconsciously about the questions that troubled me, and if I’d studied enough, by the time I reached them I had an idea of what to do. Sometimes, I would have an epiphany as I got there because I was eliminating options throughout the exam. To sum all that up – it’s best not to go in blind.”

You must have felt stressed at times. How did you cope?

“Oh, all the time. Sometimes there were subjects which really required me to buckle down and go in hard, and I think knowing that I was at least doing something about those subjects really did help.

My mentality was that if I was doing something to get there, I wasn’t doing nothing. 

It’s not much and it isn’t some life changing formula that people can use to instantly get better at study. It was more a mindset that I switched on in times of stress that kicked me into being more focused and time savvy. It helped me.” 

What is your favourite place to study?

“Somewhere I might get caught if I got off task, yet still quiet enough to stay focused. For me it was the dining room next to the kitchen. 

Mum or Dad would stick their head out from the kitchen every now and again to check in. Not knowing when the next surprise ‘check in’ may happen was enough (most of the time) to get me back on track. This isn’t to say I relied on my parents for my own study motivation. The public setting was enough to make me feel responsible for my work.”

Favourite food to eat while studying?

“Although I can’t study on an empty stomach, I’m too much of a food lover to eat while studying. Once I start the snacks, they don’t seem to stop. If I felt hungry, I’d go and have a 20 minute break and grab something to eat.

Tom Brunckhorst

Snack breaks would typically consist of protein bars, biscuits and maybe some juice.” 

Any advice for someone in their final year of high school?

“Don’t spend your entire time in the books. It’s good to have a healthy balance of study and fun ¬– so don't get carried away with either play or work.”

Anything else you think they need to know?

“Just because I’ve given my tips for completing Year 12 doesn’t mean that they’ll work for everyone. Find your own rhythm. If my tips help you, I hope you make the most of them. 

To those who can’t relate to my circumstances: find something that you like, that works for you and stick with it. If you’re putting in the effort you’re already half way there.” 

Dreaming of life after high school? Find out more about studying at ACU

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G