Coping with exams

Written by SMC Administrator. Posted in News, Timeline

phone-1052023_1920Exams are looming for our students in Year 10, 11 and 12, so it is an opportune time to look at why we have exams and what students and parents can do to help reduce the stress that may develop.

Why do we have exams?

For students in Year 10, exams are generally only held for core subjects – religion, English, maths, history and usually, although not this year, science. Occasionally the teacher of a practical subject (such as VET hospitality) may take the opportunity to schedule a practical exam during this time. Having an exam block in Year 10 allows us to get students used to the idea of revising work from several subjects at the same time, which involves working out a study plan. It also gives students the opportunity to experience a longer and sustained period of ‘exam conditions’ – not being permitted to talk, having to hand write for a longer period of time, and to manage their time so that they can complete the test within the required time.

Year 10 students will have a second exam block in November. When calculating overall grades and awards, the teacher will consider the student’s performance on the exam, along with her performance on all other assessments undertaken in the subject.

In Year 11 and 12, the exams are more important and usually carry more weight than those in Year 10. Student performance in the mid-year exams, along with all of their other internal assessments, contribute towards the final internal grades submitted by teachers to TASC for each student in their class. If the subject is a Level 3 or 4 subject, there will also be external assessment (an oral or written exam, a performance, a folio of work, or a combination of these). The results on this external assessment are kept separate from the internal grades that are submitted by the teacher, so in this case, the external exam would have a much heavier weighting that any of the internal assessment items. 

Some students in Year 12 may also have an IT Safety Net test scheduled during their exam period. This is because they will not meet the IT Standard for their TCE through their subjects by the end of Year 12. We arrange for students to do this test now, rather than later in the year when there will possibly be other factors causing stress. This information relating to the test comes from the TASC website:

  • Questions will be framed around stimulus material provided in the test paper such as diagrams, pictures and short scenarios or hypotheticals.
  • A variety of question-types will be used – some may require single word answers, some a few sentences/lines, while others may be multiple choice. Answers must be written in English.
  • You are not required to use a computer to do the test.
  • Questions will not be platform-specific. It does not matter what kind of computer you have used to learn your skills (there are no questions that you could not answer if you used, for example, a Mac instead of a PC).
For more information about the skills tested, visit the TASC website.

Advice for students taking examinations:

  • Create a study plan for the time between now and your last exam. The plan should give you time to revise for each exam and should take into account your other commitments, including allowing adequate time for sleep.
  • Before each exam, make sure you have had a good night’s sleep and have eaten breakfast.
  • Arrive in good time. At least 10 minutes before the start time of your exam is ideal.
  • For the mid-year exams, students are permitted to wear free dress. Choose something comfortable and warm.
  • Contact the school if you are going to be late, absent or unwell – if we know you are having a problem, we may be able to help you.
  • Prepare all the equipment you need for your exams ahead of time. You will need pens, pencils, a ruler, eraser, calculator(s), etc. Replace the batteries in your calculator(s) now, whether you think they need it or not.
  • You may bring a clear bottle of water with the label removed, but no fruit juices or soft drinks. If you have a medical condition that requires you to bring food into the exam, you should have made arrangements for this with teachers before the exam period. If you haven’t already done this, do it now.
  • The first 10 minutes (for Year 10 exams), and 15 minutes (for Year 11/12 exams), of exam time is provided as reading time. It is intended that students use this time to read the exam paper carefully, highlight relevant parts of questions as required and develop a plan of attack for the paper – which sections/questions to do in what order; how long to spend on each section, etc. You are permitted to start answering questions on the paper during this time, but we encourage all students to read and plan first, rather than just diving straight in.
Exam time can be stressful for some students and their families, but it is important that everything is kept in perspective. Success in exams is not a measure of success in life. 

Wendy Forsyth
Director of Curriculum (Year 7-12)

*The link to this blog post originally appeared in The Fountain Newsletter – 14 June 2017 under the ‘Learning and Teaching’ staff blogs section.

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