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How to Prepare for the 2022 Year 12 External Exams

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

With the QCE external exams approaching, find out the best way to ready yourself for success! Check out our tips below to find out how to achieve the best ATAR score possible during your Year 12 external exams.

Are your Year 12 final exams approaching? Let’s help you ace your exams!

View the 2022 QCAA external assessment timetable to see when your subject exams will each be held. The first week of exams begin in late October and end four weeks later during mid-November.

Person holding a pencil filling out a multiple choice test response sheet

1) Create your own ATAR external exam checklist

The QCAA is quite detailed in how they release the syllabus guide for each senior subject. If you hop onto the QCAA website here, you can select the subject you’re interested in and head over to “Syllabus” to download the entire curriculum guide for Units 1-4. Note that Units 3 and 4 will only be assessed on the external exam.

For most students, the curriculum guide may look overwhelming at first but it is the best way to ensure that you have not missed any topics or concepts in your revision.

An example screenshot for senior Biology is shown below (Unit 4, Topic 1: DNA, genes and the continuity of life). This is taken from the QCAA website for Biology which can be found here.

Example of Senior Biology Curriculum published by the QCAA

How do I prepare for my ATAR exam using the QCAA syllabus?

From the screenshot above, note the importance of the key words underlined in the syllabus. While words such as Understand and Recognise indicate that you are expected to comprehend a certain concept, key words such as Recall, Explain and Describe are typically more application-based. From our knowledge of the published past papers, curriculum points with these application words typically are assessed in the short-answer papers and require you to provide an extended response to a question which you can practice for.

That being said, another trick to understanding what subject matter to focus on is the “Notational Time” outlined in the Guidance column of the syllabus. While some areas of the syllabus have an assigned 3-5 hours in reference to how much class time should have been allocated to cover the material, other areas may have 9-12 assigned hours which indicate that it may be a larger area of focus in your upcoming exam.

Lastly, note that the key word Define is quite important for subjects such as Chemistry and Biology. For these curriculum points, navigate your way to the Glossary of the syllabus to find the appropriate definition for each term or phrase you will need to know. There have been some questions in past papers asking to provide a definition for certain terms that you can find in the glossary.

2) External exam practice with past QCAA papers

Fortunately, the QCAA also publishes a number of past exam papers that you can access for free under “Assessment” for your chosen subject. By working through the different multiple-choice and short-answer papers with the Marking Guide on hand, you’ll be able to understand what kind of key information the examiners are looking for.

One important tool that you can use when working your way through the papers is to pay attention to the number of marks allocated to each question. For instance, if you are asked to describe the process of protein synthesis and notice that it is a 4-mark question, you are most likely being asked to provide four key points in your answer to achieve full marks for that question.

3) Regular exam revision using written notes

Since your upcoming external exam will assessed any material covered in Units 3 and 4, it will be important for you to regularly revise material to ensure that you have enough time to cover all content. Also, as you look over the content you need to learn, use a spare separate notebook to regularly write notes during your revision. This will be your list of condensed notes that you can revise close to your exam date.

4) Rest and clear your mind for the best possible ATAR score!

Last of all, ensure that you take care of yourself both physically and mentally before your final exams. Remember to focus on concepts and think flexibly during your exam.

If you require any assistance or learning support for your Year 12 external exams, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at Cloud Tuition. Book in a free 1-hour lesson and we’ll help you navigate the best exam preparation approach for your specific learning needs and concerns.

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