July 22, 2020

VCE Achievement Update

Dear Families, Students and Community Members,


At the moment we are very fortunate to still have our Year 11 and Year 12 students at school, enabling them to interact with their teachers and peers to get the most out of their education. They have returned after the holidays in fine form with their usual passion and focus on learning which is a credit to them in these troubling times.


We are also at the business end of the year when students should be ramping up towards their exams. My role focuses on Mordialloc College’s continuous efforts to improve our VCE results. Here is some information on the evidence base behind study skills and why they are so important for student achievement.


Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve


Herman Ebbinghaus proposed that, if information that is learned is not revisited after the initial learning, then it would be forgotten relatively quickly (see the graph below) …

… which makes sense when students are exposed to so much learning throughout the day. The way for students to limit the amount of information that is forgotten each day is to review it regularly. Students can do this by:

  • Having a conversation about their learning for the day
  • Setting up study notes that they revisit regularly. Websites like Quizlet can help to gamify these for students.
  • Writing questions for themselves based on the LO and SC from each lesson of the day.


By following these strategies students can ensure that they remember as much information as possible.


The importance of setting up a proper study area


Our brain uses context dependent cues to aid in our memory. This means that the environment in which students learn should be as close to the environment in which they complete their assessments to aid their memory. If students are learning from home then they should, where possible, work in an environment that is free of distractions such as phones and music.


It is also important that students are in as calm a state as possible when studying and completing assessments. Learning breathing techniques to assist students to relax can be of real value here. This relates to the theory of state dependent cues, that the psychological state we are in when studying needs to be similar to that of when we are completing assessments. This is why sometimes we see students get stressed in assessments and forget the information that they have learned.


Taking effective notes


Adding meaning to what students write down increases the chances of that information going into long term memory. This is known as elaborative rehearsal. Students can do this by:

  • Writing notes in their own words
  • Highlighting and annotating key elements
  • Creating brainstorms that link key terms.


Time management


It is particularly important over the course of students’ high school experience that they work on their time management. VCE exams are still handwritten and the expectations on the amount of pages that students are expected to write in focused conditions are high e.g. the Year 12 English exam is 9 – 12 pages of writing in 3 hours. Students can begin working on this in younger years and build up over time. This point needs to be particularly emphasised within the world of online learning – students should practise their writing where possible.


Finally, I wish everyone the best during this time. Look after each other and stay healthy.



Amy Webber

Learning Specialist