Helping students transition from Year 11 to Year 12

Sarah-Eleni Zaferis

Teacher and School Enablement Leader at Atomi


min read

The transition into Year 12 can be daunting—and as educators, we want to set each student up for success from day one. By doing so, we can help students build confidence early on, and also keep their learning on track. But with so many competing priorities, what should we focus on?

This article outlines four key areas to focus on:

  1. Providing perspective,
  2. Encouraging consistency,
  3. Fostering independence,
  4. And, facilitating study skills development.

By prioritising these areas, we can ensure maximum impact on long-term attainment, as well as ongoing engagement and overall wellbeing.

Providing perspective

By the time students start Year 12, they have heard many times how important the year ahead is. Instead of continually reiterating how meaningful their study is, we should focus on helping students put the year into perspective.

Research suggests that around 19% of students start Year 12 already stressed, which can impact sleep, well-being, performance and overall experience (Macquarie University, 2022). So rather than placing more emphasis on how critical the coming year will be—and accidentally generating more fear for students—teachers can put Year 12 into perspective for them (Macquarie University, 2022).

Try it in the classroom

Outlining multiple pathways of success, using motivational speakers and stories as well as building resilience in Year 12 students can alleviate some of this pressure.

Encouraging consistency

Year 12 students have a lot of plates to juggle. Between managing their study across multiple subjects, figuring out their post-school choices and every social event in between, they can often feel overwhelmed. As a result, many students fail to understand the importance of consistent revision and work throughout the year, which should start on their first day of Year 12.

By explaining the importance of consistent learning from day one, students will begin to get into the habit of reviewing their work throughout the term, week in and week out and potentially avoid last-minute cram sessions. Evidence tells us that large singular revision sessions may lead to higher student confidence, but result in lower exam outcomes and long-term understanding (Arnott & Dust, 2012), meaning when it comes to student outcomes consistency is key. Consistent revision will also help alleviate stress, leading to more positive wellbeing outcomes.

Try it in the classroom

Starting small will help students feel successful in completing consistent revision. 10 to 15-minute weekly revision sessions for each subject will aid in closing learning gaps and keeping content fresh for students. If students find this difficult setting up revision reminders on their phone can be helpful, or alternatively learning on online platforms like Atomi to notify students of areas of weakness through revision reminders can be very beneficial.

Fostering independent learning

While students would love their teachers to be available for them 24/7 this is just not possible. It also doesn’t help them develop the necessary skills to succeed in post-school life. So developing some independent learning habits is a great way to keep them on track.

Try it in the classroom

One way to encourage this is by asking students to complete corrections on all work. It is important to close the feedback loop for students as it forces them to reflect on their work and understand where they went wrong and why (Kemp, 2021). It also helps build content knowledge as they have to go back and add missing information or change any incorrect statements (Kemp, 2021). In addition, from an anecdotal perspective, students who complete corrections are able to review and edit their assessment responses far more successfully than those who do not. This should also mean students become less dependent on their teacher for large and regular amounts of feedback and any reduction in marking is a huge win.

Another suggestion is to create time for students to reflect on their learning and draw their own conclusions about how they are tracking with their learning and motivation. Educators are often reporting on Year 12 students, but giving them the time to think about their own strengths and weaknesses can impact their overall classroom experience, not to mention the development of an important life skill. In particular, frequent self-reflective practices can be correlated with higher performance on academic testing (Choi et al. 2017). Weekly exit tickets, post assessments and end-of-term reflection worksheets are possible options.

Facilitating study skills development

While all teachers hope that students enter Year 12 with a whole host of study skills, this is often not the case. Study skills are very different to studying or revision itself—they involve a combination of habits and skills that create an effective process of reviewing content, and ultimately increasing learning (Jafari et al. 2019).

The two main benefits of developing these skills are academic achievement and positive well-being, both of which are extremely important for all students. The evidence is clear that there is a direct and significant correlation between effective study habits and academic performance (Jafari et al. 2019). In addition, students who develop proper study skills and habits experience less stress in the learning process, leading to an overall more positive sense of well-being (Ebele, F & Olofu, P, 2017).

We suggest focusing on a few key study habits that will have lasting effects on students beyond their schooling years. These include goal setting, note taking and study planning.

Goal setting

As students move from junior year levels into higher levels of schooling there is a well-documented decline in engagement, which in turn creates an issue for both academic outcomes and well-being (Burns et al. 2019). Goal setting has been shown to increase engagement when used both spontaneously and over time (Burns et al. 2019).

Try it in the classroom

Setting time for students to create goals for individual subjects and wider personal reasons can help increase student engagement and keep them on track.

You can use Atomi’s Goal Setting lesson to support this. It includes a printable worksheet!


There is no doubt that students in Year 12 will be taking a lot of notes. Hopefully, this is a practice they are used to but there is always room for improvement. Modelling effective note-taking techniques for students is a life skill that will serve them well and truly into adulthood.

Try it in the classroom

Here at Atomi, we encourage the Cornell Method of note-taking. This method forces you to think critically about any key concepts and explain them in detail, meaning students are more likely to remember them later (Friedman, 2014).

Study planning

Finally, teachers often encourage students to create study plans when preparing for assessment tasks but many students will benefit from weekly study schedules that help build consistency and momentum (Huber, 2018).

Try it in the classroom

Showing students how to use a weekly template (like this one) will help them develop their study schedules. Some tips to include would be blocking out time for part-time work or regular events like sports training so they can see how much time a week they have to study.

Don’t forget to stress the importance of rest and fun, and make sure they have time for that as well!

Final thoughts

There are sure to be challenges along the way for every student, but by empowering them to develop the skills to succeed in Year 12, you can effectively give them the right tools to fall back on when times get stressful. Providing perspective, encouraging consistency, fostering independence and facilitating study skills development will go a long way in supporting your students’ attainment, engagement and wellbeing.

Want more? Get the latest on pedagogy, innovation, strategy and classroom leadership on The Staffroom.


Published on

October 20, 2022

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