Hello! I go by the alias Luna, I’m a year 11 in Victoria (class of ‘23) and as term 3 comes to a close, and the year 12s prepare for graduation, it finally dawned on me that this is it. Next year, it’ll be my last, and all of the years I’ve spent in school are finally coming to an end. Ew.
Throughout my schooling, I’ve always been that kid that people considered ‘smart’ because they were slightly above average in academic subjects. But the truth is, I’ve never felt that way at all.
I’ve always been ‘smart’, but not smart enough. I’m the person that comes in 4th when the first 3 are considered the winners. I’m the person that can’t consider themselves average because people think I’m mocking them, but also can’t consider themselves great because the truth is I’m not. I’m good, but never good enough.
I’m making this journal for the people who wish they could be more, but just seem to be lacking every single time. Whether you’re the person in 2nd place hoping for 1st, or the person in last place trying to get one place ahead, we’ve all felt at a constant at some point, and that’s okay. I can’t say that I’ll ever end up being on the podium, but as long as I know I tried my absolute damn hardest to be, then that’s good enough for me.
About Me <3
I go to a fairly average private school. (Ranked around 150.) Every year, only about the top 5 students get 90+ ATARs. Now, I would really like a 90 ATAR, however I am also usually 6th. And recently, I realised that I don’t want to be that 5th person, I want to be the 6th that was good enough.
I currently do Biology 3&4, my teacher won’t disclose rankings so I don’t really have information for that. I’m aiming for a raw 35 study score, and I think it’s entirely possible for me (biology has always been a strong suit of mine, I enjoy it quite a lot), so here’s to hoping…
My VCE goals are fairly simple, I’m aiming for a 35ish study score in most if not all of my subjects. Which, based on the year, should be able to get me in the low 90s (who knows.) But other than that, my main goal is to enjoy school and learning, without being detrimental to my mental health. I have really bad mental health, and professional help can only get me so far, so if I can maximise my efficiency in VCE without risking my health, then that’s a win for me.
My current subjects: psychology, japanese sl, methods, chemistry, english language (1&2), biology (3&4)
To those who’ve never felt good enough, let’s get through this together 🙂
So today I got an English Language SAC back, and it was a really bad grade. I passed, but not by a lot. I’m not used to scores like this, and if it was me a couple of years ago, I’d be sobbing and crying and just losing my absolute marbles. So I thought I’d use this as a good way to show that things go badly sometimes, and that’s entirely okay— it’s human.
I recently read ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F’, and I’ve started applying its lessons to my life and I’ll be honest, it works. When you’re so used to getting a certain grade, if you get below that, it can often make you feel helpless or dumb or not good enough. But rather than ignoring these bad things, or getting too overwhelmed over them, the first thing you have to do is accept it:
Yes, I got this horrible grade, there’s nothing I can do to change that.
And once you’ve accepted it, then you can work on getting better. Don’t let bad grades be the reason why you give up, let bad grades be the reason why you work harder to get better, so that you don’t get a bad grade again.
Identify where you went wrong, was it insufficient study? Was it the inability to answer the questions accurately? Was it a lack of time and you didn’t get to finish? When you figure this out, you can focus on it and work to get better, even if it’s just by 1%.
The second thing you do is understand why this grade made you so upset in the first place. For me, I place a lot of my self worth on my academic grades. Getting a bad grade = I’m a bad person and I should just give up. That was my mindset. It’s unhealthy, and once I realised and fully accepted that, I was able to slowly change it. Now it’s “I know I tried my best = win”.
Back to my VCE goals: do my best without being detrimental to my mental health.
This SAC doesn’t define me as a person, it doesn’t show my morals or my values or who I am. It simply shows that I’m not as good at this topic as I could be. But good news: this topic can be learned. If I put more effort into fixing where I went wrong, I can learn to be better.
To the people who’ve felt disappointed over a grade, there’s nothing wrong with that. Use that feeling to fuel your motivation to get better. <3
Hello! There’s been a couple things that have happened that I’d like to discuss here. Firstly, dealing with ‘bad’ grades when you thought you did well.
I got a methods SAC back at the end of term 3, one which I felt fairly confident in, and I absolutely bombed it. (Still passed, fortunately, but definitely nowhere near what I was expecting.) A lot of people may say “don’t have unrealistic expectations”, but the truth is my expectations weren’t unrealistic at all. In fact, I received a SAC grade for my CAS enabled section of the same topic and did incredibly well. And I’m sure that if you’re feeling confident about a test, then it’s probably because you understand the topic well, and therefore having high expectations wouldn’t be unrealistic. So it wasn’t for a lack of understanding of the topic. In reality, I just severely underperformed. Why?
I think this is the number one question you should be asking yourself every single time, whether the grade is ‘good’ or not. “Why?” Why did I get this unsatisfactory grade? Why did I get this question wrong? Because understanding “why” something happened is the only way for you to figure out “how” to fix it.
In my example, the reason why I received that grade was because I made silly errors. Errors that could’ve been entirely avoided if I read through my answers carefully, and took my time. I’ll admit, I wasn’t in the right headspace when I sat this SAC. I was incredibly tired, and I didn’t bother to go through my work when I was done. There. That’s why I got that bad grade. I was careless in my work, and my results reflected that.
And then, you can figure out how to fix it. Unfortunately, I do have insomnia so being tired at school has just been a constant for me my whole life. But I know that, so was I just negligent in accounting for that the night before the SAC? Probably. Next time, I could just take a break the night before. I might not get sleep, but letting my mind rest from electronics and study can still help me feel refreshed.
Secondly, I’d like to talk about imposter syndrome. It’s not really something I see many VCE students talk about, but in my private conversations, I find that nearly every student has experienced this at least once.
During the first week of these holidays, I got sick. Like pretty sick, I couldn’t get out of bed, I had a fever, and I just felt completely and utterly useless. Term 3 holidays are where most people will start getting their game on, where they study for hours a day in preparation for mocks and the real exams. And here I was, laying in bed, watching Minecraft videos from 2012. For a lack of better words, I felt like sh#t.
It’s easy to get caught up in these aesthetic study vlogs of people studying 10 hours a straight, of doing two practice exams a day, and thinking: “I don’t deserve to be here. These people are all working so hard to achieve their dreams, I’ll never be as good as them.”
Comparing yourself to other people is normal, it’s what makes us human. But the truth is, no one is perfect. If you’re so caught up on your own imperfections, you tend to hold everyone in a higher light and treat them as though they are perfect. This isn’t true at all. We all have our flaws, and there’s literally nothing wrong with that.
Getting out of this mindset is tough, you’ll probably cry a lot and it takes a long time. I’m not even out of this mindset yet. Here’s the thing: you can never compare yourself to other people because they aren’t you. And that’s it. You, who reads fanfiction at 3am, who enjoys listening to kpop and scrolling through tiktok, cannot compare yourself to Janice, who’s been playing football since they were 3, who likes Taylor Swift and watching anime. Because you are your own person.
It’s the same case with studying. You, who is sick in bed with the flu, watching Minecraft videos because you can’t stand, cannot compare yourself to Adam, who’s feeling physically healthy and has the time to study 10 hours a day. That’s just how things are.
Instead, you should only compare yourself with who you were, and who you could be. Compare year 11 year old you to year 7 year old you, who would cry when they got less than 90% on something. Realise how far you’ve come since then, how much happier you are and how your mindset has changed. Compare year 11 you with the year 12 you want to be, how are they different? What can you do to be that person? That is the only way to see improvement, and not feel inadequate.
It’s my second day back at school and I’m already living by ‘no pain no gain’ 💪 (/j don’t live by that, it can only end up in destructive behaviour.)
But anyways, on my first day back I had my trial exam for biology. Honestly? I don’t know how it went. I don’t think it was great, but I don’t think I failed either. However, while sitting that exam I did realise a few things.
1) I am absolutely awful at answering exam style questions. It’s not necessarily that I don’t understand the content, because I do. It’s that VCE biology has a very specific marking scheme, and you have to get the buzzwords in order to get the mark. Unfortunately for me, I don’t know the buzzwords. So, how am I gonna work on this? I’ve set myself a schedule for the next couple of weeks up until the exam. I’m pushing to do a practice exam a day, but I’ve also started a document where I look through the marks I missed on the practice exam, and analysing the trends in specific types of questions. (I might give out this Google sheets I’ve made to help future biology students, I’ll see about that.)
And 2. The exam timing confuses me… a lot. I’m the type of person who usually finishes around 30 mins early, no matter what kind of exam it is. I finished an hour early, and took a nap during the exam. Obviously, I won’t be taking any naps on the real thing. But my other friend was in the exact same situation, so now we’re a bit worried that during the real thing we’ll be panicking to finish and scraping for marks. Here’s to hoping it’s not like that.
On a similar note, last term I sat a chemistry AOS test that had me panicking to finish. Quite frankly, it scared me. I was still writing up to the last second and that’s never happened to me before. I was genuinely terrified that I was going to fail. (I don’t really trust my math abilities, I need to at least double check it to make sure.)
To my surprise, I dropped 4 marks. I’m absolutely thrilled. During semester 1, chemistry and I absolutely hated each other. I didn’t necessarily get bad marks, but my motivation levels were so low and I never did anything to study for it. But during term 3, I started enjoying it more and putting more effort, and I’m so pleased that the effort showed results.
Well, that’s all for me right now. No big relevation or lesson for today, just good old reflection. 🙂
So today I had what I call a ‘no focus day.’ I go through periods of time where I either hyper focus on studying, and get a lot of stuff done. Or I just can’t sit still for a minute and I have to do literally anything else.
I think that focused work is important, but also that knowing when to call quits is important too.
Yesterday, I studied for 7 hours and didn’t feel fatigued at all. Today, I couldn’t sit still for 30 minutes.
When I say call it quits, I’m not saying to not try at all. But understand your limits. If you can only sit for 30 minutes at a time, then sit for 30 and take a 5 minute break in between. Or, what I personally prefer, is setting an absolute minimum.
I wanted to get a practice exam done. That was my absolute minimum. It took me over 4 hours to do because I was getting distracted and incapable of sitting still so often, but I still got my minimum done, and I could step away from my desk happy that I had done what I wanted.
And that makes quitting easier as well. It’s easy enough to say “if you’re tired then don’t study because you won’t be productive”, but actually doing that makes you feel like you’re wasting time, or you’re not doing as much as other people are doing.
But if you’ve done that one thing then you can think “hey, I got that done. So that means I’ve done something to deserve a break now.”
Exams are getting close and I’m sure everyone is working really hard to be prepared, but don’t forget that taking a break and being fully refreshed is just as important.
I received my SAC marks for my very last bio SAC today and it really hit me, oh my god it’s nearly done. It’s been finalised: everything I’ve been working up to this entire year is about to be decided by how well I do on the exam. It’s terrifying yet exhilarating.
My goal is still a 35 study score (though I’ll be happy with a 33-34), and I think that’s still within my grasp. My teacher hasn’t confirmed rankings, but I think I might be in the top 7-8 (either way, I trust the people around me to try their hardest on the exam.)
As for the exam, I’ve been doing past papers every day. I currently average around a 75-78%, and I received my mark for the trial exam I did at the start of the term and it fit perfectly within that range. So points for consistency I guess! Judging on past grade distributions, this should give me a B+ which could probably get me a safe 30. Just in case though, I’m working to get that average up to around an 78-80%, as that’s my goal for the exam.
The stress is really building but I’m trying to keep level headed and not get too ahead of myself haha. Good luck to everyone who’s exams start really really soon, try your best. <3