How to survive Year 12

It’s a big year—but it doesn’t have to break you. Here are our top tips for tackling Year 12.

3D art of a schoolgirl walking towards a graduation cap


Just started your last year of high school? Or thinking ahead to when you will? You’re probably feeling equal parts excited and nervous to do well.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to approach Year 12. It can seem like a real pressure-cooker of a time, but there are ways to manage your study stress and even enjoy the ride. 

Read on for our top tips for Year 12. We promise you’ll get through to the other side. 

Is Year 12 much harder than Year 11?

If you’ve already completed Year 11, you’ve had a taste of what your last year of high school will be like. You probably already have some exam experience under your belt and know a bit about how you learn best.  

As it’s your last year, the stakes are higher in Year 12 and your workload will be heavier than in previous years—but it needn’t freak you out too much if you’ve got a solid study plan in place. 

How do I start Year 12 strong?

If you’ve just started Year 12, try to get on the front foot to avoid any panicky late-night cramming sessions later in the term. 

For starters, you may like to:  

  • Set up a workspace at home if you can 
  • Make sure you know important dates 
  • Get across the syllabus 
  • Set some specific goals for the year 
  • Try to get into a weekly routine

Study tips for Year 12

Still a little anxious? Consider these tips to make the most of the year. 

Look after yourself 

Before you even look at your assignment load, take stock of your lifestyle and see if you need to make any adjustments. It may not have been top of mind until now but getting good sleep, eating well, and having an exercise routine will work wonders for your stress levels. 

Find your fave learning style 

Do you like to take highly visual notes? Or listen to podcasts to hear people explain concepts to you? Maybe you like to study with friends and talk things through. 

You might already know how you learn best, or it might be worth spending some time finding out what works for you, so you can design ways to absorb info and memorise crucial details ahead of exam time. 

Get organised 

A messy workspace can make you feel scattered and overwhelmed. Try to keep things tidy when you can… and maybe even indulge in a little procrasti-cleaning if you need a brain break. 

Related reading: TAFE vs uni. Which should I choose?

Manage distractions 

Yep, that means your phone. It may seem like the perfect little dopamine hit between assignments, but you can lose an alarming amount of time to TikTok if you’re not careful. 

The best way to avoid doom-scroll temptation is to take it out of the room that you’re studying in. If it’s a really important study period (like, the night before a big exam), you could consider giving your phone to someone to look after for you. Or you could even get one of those lock boxes that you have to literally break into to get your phone back. Whatever it takes. 

Take breaks 

Research shows that taking regular breaks helps us to absorb information. 

You may have heard of the Pomodoro technique before—it’s the one that uses a timer (traditionally in the shape of a tomato, which is what ‘pomodoro’ means in Italian) to block out study and break times. Typically, it’s 25 minutes of focus and then five minutes of rest. 

You can get your own little tomato-shaped timer or use a digital one that you can access for free online 


Books stacked on top of a laptop

Ask for help 

Sometimes it can be tempting to suffer in silence if you’re not getting something straight away, but it’s a better idea to speak up and ask for help. Your teachers will be grateful you asked sooner rather than later. 

If you really feel like you’re drowning, ask your school what kind of study support is available—it could really help you out in the long run. 

Don’t forget to have fun

Remember that while a lot of emphasis is put on work and doing well, your relationships at school are important too, so try to enjoy your friendships throughout Year 12. You’ll be going your separate ways at the end of the year, and it’s worth making the most of the time you have. 

Just like when you’re out in the real world, all work and no play can end up in serious burnout—and perhaps a worse result than if you made time for fun stuff. Make sure you find ways to blow off some steam and have a good time. Just aim to get the balance right. 

What happens if you don’t get the ATAR score you want? 

A lot of pressure can be put on Year 12 students to do as well as they possibly can—and it’s true that a higher ATAR gives you more options when you’re choosing a university course, so it’s worth dedicating yourself to your studies. 

However, it pays to keep things in perspective too. If you end up falling a little short in the results department at the end of the year, remember that you still have options. Lots of people go on to have really successful lives and careers even if they didn’t quite get the score they hoped for. 

Here at Open Universities Australia, we can help you get into leading universities no matter your ATAR. You can enrol through single subjects without entry requirements, or an introductory qualification known as an undergraduate certificate, and then transition into your preferred degree from there. 

Feel free to keep us in mind or chat to us more about these pathways, whether you’re in Year 12 now or have already graduated. 


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