Student Stories
min read

How I scored 99.95 & perfect 50/50 in VCE Physics

VCE is tough. It requires hard work, perseverance and an unwavering motivation to succeed.
Written by
Asel Kumarasinghe
Published on
December 26, 2023

VCE is tough. It requires hard work, perseverance and an unwavering motivation to succeed. In 2022, I was fortunate enough to be one of 39 students in Victoria to achieve an ATAR of 99.95, along with a raw 50 and premier’s award for physics. Currently, I am studying the Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne. In this article, I will share some of the strategies and study techniques that helped me excel in physics and VCE as a whole.

How to achieve 99.95

Achieving a 99.95 ATAR is not easy, and at times I doubted whether I could obtain it myself. Regardless of whether your goal is to achieve a 99.95 or to simply meet the ATAR requirement for your dream course, here are a few of my recommendations:

  1. Subject selection: To achieve a high ATAR, you should choose subjects based on your interests or strengths, along with any prerequisites for your desired courses. A lot of people will choose difficult subjects which scale up highly, and while this may boost some of your study scores, it may be detrimental to your score if you do not enjoy the subjects. Personally, I chose mainly maths and science based subjects since I was fascinated by them and greatly enjoyed these subjects in middle school. I was often more motivated to study these subjects and was able to score highly in them. However, it is important to note that to achieve a 99.95 ATAR, the minimum aggregate required is around 211-212. This means you need to complete 6 subjects in total (consider completing a subject early if you can), perform well in your English subject (as this will be in your top 4), and that you should have at least one subject that scales above 50, such as specialist maths or a language.

  1. Balance between academics and personal life: Although it is important to invest time and energy into your studies, this should not come at the cost of other activities you enjoy such as sport, music, debating, etc. Taking a break from your studies every now and then is extremely important in optimising your physical and mental health. Feeling stressed and burnt out, especially during your SACs and exams, will adversely impact your performance in these high stakes environments and greatly reduce your chances of achieving a high ATAR. However, it is equally important not to be involved in too many activities outside of your VCE studies, as you may become quite busy and have less time to study. Ultimately, year 12 is a balancing act between academics and extracurriculars, and you need to make sure you do not have too much of one at the expense of the other.

  1. Time management: To achieve a high ATAR, it is important that you manage your time effectively. I personally made sure to balance the time I spent studying for each subject, so that I was not spending too much time studying one or two subjects at the expense of the others. I also made sure to devote more time and energy to any subjects I was less confident with and focused on improving my weaknesses. I found that having a schedule was useful, especially during the exam revision period. In addition, when you are studying for a particular subject, make sure to only focus on that one subject without getting distracted. If you feel you are losing focus or getting distracted, it may be useful to take a short break and continue studying after you have regained focus.

Mastering Physics and Study Techniques

Physics was one of the most fascinating subjects I studied during VCE. Studying topics such as motion, fields, electricity generation, power transmission, Einstein’s theory of special relativity and the nature of light greatly broadened my understanding of the real world and improved my problem solving and critical thinking skills. Physics is especially useful if you are looking to study a course such as science or engineering in university. Here are a few strategies which helped me succeed in VCE physics:

  1. Practice questions/past exams: To get a high study score in physics, it is important to complete many practice questions and timed past papers. When studying for a subject like physics, simply re-reading your notes is not enough; you need to practise applying the concepts and skills you have learnt to different situations. Past exam questions in particular, such as from VCAA or NHT exams, will give you a good indication of what to expect in the final exam, and I found that the more past exams I completed, the more confident I felt in tackling the final exam.

  1. Reviewing mistakes: To get the most benefit out of completing practice questions, I would highly recommend that you keep track of and review your mistakes regularly. I personally kept track of the mistakes I was making in each practice exam using a table, which helped me identify the common mistakes I was making. Keeping track of and regularly reviewing your mistakes in some way ensures that you are less likely to make the same mistakes in the future. 

  1. Summary notes: Another strategy which I found useful was to make summary notes on each topic throughout the year. This greatly helped me consolidate my understanding of the content and helped me identify if there were any gaps in my knowledge. These summary notes were also vital in helping me prepare for SACs and exams. It is also useful to add to your summary notes if you find any extra information from VCAA examiners’ reports, and to structure them according to the study design.

  1. Going ahead with the content: Prior to covering a certain topic in class, I would often read the relevant chapter in the textbook beforehand to get a preliminary understanding of the topic. This is beneficial as it helped me keep up with the content and prevented me from falling behind. In addition, since I was already familiar with the content before each class, the content covered in my school classes became more like consolidation of what I already knew, rather than brand new content, so I felt less overwhelmed.

  1. Seeking help when needed: For physics or any other VCE subject, it is important to seek help or advice if needed, such as from your school teacher or tutor. This can help in clarifying any doubts or uncertainties you have about the content, and can be greatly beneficial in solidifying your understanding of difficult topics. The friendly tutors here at Complete VCE Education are extremely knowledgeable and approachable, and are always happy to assist you if needed.

Ultimately, to succeed in year 12 it is important to believe in yourself and your abilities, and not put yourself down. If you get a bad SAC result, don’t stress too much, as you can still perform well in other SACs or the exam, and your SAC results could even scale up. In summary, to achieve a high ATAR, you need to have a balance and manage your time effectively, and to do well in physics, do lots of practice, get ahead with the content and seek help when needed.  I wish you all the best of luck for your VCE journey and beyond!

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