Expect the unexpected: 6 Surprises you will face in Year 12

Simon Hennessy

English expert at Atomi


min read

Sometimes, all the preparation in the world isn’t enough to stop a few surprises jumping out at you, and in the case of moving into Year 12, this is definitely true.

Not to worry though, we’ve put together a list of a few unexpected twists that are likely to occur over the next year so that you’re more prepared than ever come term 1:

The year starts fast

Once the summer holidays are over, you will hit the ground running, and we mean running. Teachers will get right down to working through exam material and preparation, assignments will get underway straight away, and the famous ‘ease in’ period of previous years will seem like a fond memory from another life.

The nasty result of this comes about four weeks in, when you realise how far behind you have already fallen. The best way to prevent that is to match the pace your teachers are setting from the word go. Get on top of everything straight away and you’ll find the unpleasantness of the quick starting pace to be a short term problem, not a long term one.

How do you get ahead from day 1? My advice would be to start preparing about 2 weeks before term 1 starts again and you can do this by sitting down with the syllabus and your notes open in front of you. Go through what you’ve already learnt and make sure your notes are up to date and complete for those syllabus dot points. I would even go as far as to start preparing short or long answer responses for sections of the syllabus that will be tested in this term’s assessments.

Once that’s all done, take a quick sneak peek at what’s to come this term. No, you haven’t learnt it in class yet but that doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and start understanding what the syllabus has in store for you. Read through those chapters in the textbook, check out a few of our Atomi videos or jump onto your school portal and see if your teacher has uploaded any worksheets for you to do. Trust me, this is what separates the good students from the great students in year 12.

It’s not all exam preparation

You might be thinking that it’s going to be all past paper questions, exam technique, and subject assignments this year. Well, not exactly.

For starters, chances are you still have quite a bit of content to work through in most of your subjects before the syllabus is completed so a lot of the time will just be content heavy learning. Also, not every teacher is going to frame everything you do as exam prep. School is meant to prepare you for more than just exams, it’s about building the skills you need for life after school – so any good teacher will be looking to foster valuable life skills that might not necessarily apply to exams.

Don’t get us wrong, there will still be quite a lot of exam-specific work, especially the closer you get to exams. However, school is still school, and whether you like it or not, you have to get through the content before you can start any application.

Falling behind your study timetable is way too easy

For a lot of Year 12 students, the best day of term is when you get to sit down and start making your study timetable. It brings such a feeling of hope, organisation and motivation. You feel like nothing can stop you and you are so determined that you’re going to be so ready for year 12 and that you aren’t going to slow down your pace for the whole year. You’ve got this! But all of a sudden one day, without even realising, you’re about 2 weeks behind schedule and your study timetable is now just a pretty, colour-coded picture on your wall rather than a practical study guide.

It’s outrageously easy to fall into some bad habits and let your study timetable slip out from under you, and when this happens, don’t go into meltdown. Take a step back and ask yourself why this has happened. Maybe it’s time for your timetable to be updated because you’ve found that you don’t need to spend as much time learning content as you originally thought, but would rather spend that time writing out sample short answer responses.

Yes, discipline and being strict on yourself is important, but don’t let it break you. Set realistic goals, push yourself a bit and you’ll find that you’ll be okay in the end.

You have to give something up

Everyone says that finding a balance between study and activities is vital, and it is – your results will suffer if all you do every day is study. However, you are going to be faced with the unfortunate truth that revising, playing 3 instruments, being on 4 sports teams, going to 2 parties a week and watching 10 episodes of your favourite show just isn’t going to happen this year.

For some people, the solution is rationing out their time to all their hobbies. For others, cutting out one pastime altogether might do the trick. It’s all about prioritising what you get the most value out of and what’s important to you. So, be prepared to have to make some sacrifices in order to get through the academic demands of this year and have an open mind about the year ahead.

Some friends get pretty annoying

In Year 11, you couldn’t get enough of Tony. The class clown, the life and soul of every party, always ready with some crazy scheme or prank. Tony was the best.

I’ve got some bad news. Tony’s antics get a lot less funny when you’re juggling three assignments and stressing about the exams that are weeks away. He might not care at all about results, but you do, and suffice to say he is not helping one bit.

The solution? You don’t have to cut Tony out of your life or anything, but this is a super important year and you don’t need drama or distractions right now. It’s your year, it’s your education and people need to respect that. There will be plenty of time to hang with Tony next summer, but for now, spending a little less time with him might be for the best.

You survive

Year 12 can be great in a lot of ways, but you probably already know there will be moments when it all feels like too much, and you worry if you’ll ever get through the big bad assessments and exams that seem endless. But guess what? You will.

It’s going to feel like a huge surprise when you wake up on the day after you’ve finished all your exams and realise you made it, and it’s going to be an awesome feeling. When the going gets tough, remember that the best surprise of all is coming, and it’s going to be all the better for the hard work and perseverance that came before it.


You can’t prepare for every surprise that’s going to come your way in Year 12, but hopefully, this can help with a few of them. At the end of the day, if you’re working hard and keeping healthy and happy, you’re going to get through this year and come out the other side with a smile on your face!


Published on

January 16, 2020

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