There’s Life After Year 12 Exams

For year 12 students, exams are rapidly approaching. After a year of slogging through assignments and studying, it’s crunch time. These exams will define your ATAR score, which defines your tertiary education which defines your life.

Well, not really. Actually, not at all.

Your year 12 results will hardly define who become as a person, if at all. This is something I tell every VCE student who will listen to me. And now, as if they are reading my mind, Reach Out have started a great new campaign called There’s Life after Year 12 Exams, or #thereslifeafter Year 12 Exams if you’re on the Twitters, that aims to tell teens that, well, there’s life after exams and it will happen regardless of how you do.

The campaign is headlined by a series of videos from a wide variety of people giving their personal experience of year 12 and tips for those currently studying.

Now kids, don’t take this to mean that you should slack off at school. No, study and learn things. Learning things is important if you want to do stuff. It’s just that there’s quite a narrow view to education when exams and scores are involved.

Exams are theoretically made to test all the skills you have learned in a particular subject. In practice, they mostly test how good you are at remembering things. English, a class most students take, is the worst offender, along with all the other subjects that make students write an essay of the top of their head in a time limit. Combine that with the fact that exams are worth 50% of a subject’s mark and it’s a recipe for overly stressed teens.

They are, to put it bluntly, balls. To put it less bluntly, they are an unrealistic form of assessment that distracts students from learning a wider variety of skills during VCE. And this is without mentioning the ATAR and the weighing of subjects to lean towards what are traditionally ‘scholarly’ subjects. In short, also balls.

Okay, that’s enough hooting and hollering from me, here’s my advice for year 12 students. Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who got quite a good ENTER score (that’s what they were called in 2007) but ended up doing nothing remotely close to what he set out to do after high school:

You know how teachers say you have to keep a balance between your school work and your social life, and that they are talking out their arses when they say that? Well I think you really do need a balance, so that you can learn as many different skills as you can, and yes this includes learning how to socialise and interact with people well.

Don’t be afraid to try and do what you really want to do. Now is the time to do it, not three years down the road when you realise doing a business course was a bad idea because you think it’s boring, despite the promise of a steady future income. No offence to those who really do want to do a business course, of course.

And lastly, try not to stress too much. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t ace your exams, even if you want to be a doctor. Just keep working and you can get there. Or maybe you’ll go off in a different direction and do something you like better. There’s life after year 12, and it doesn’t suck if you get an ATAR score under 80.