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Ask Christian: Should I Use the Syllabus or Textbook for Exam Study?

Hi Christian, I was just wondering seeing as mock exams are coming up if you studied using only the syllabus for all your subjects. So many previous year students stress that the syllabus if the key to acing your wace, is that true? like if i ignored everything else would the syllabus be adequate to provide me with an A+. I am kind of nervous and hesitant to like follow it as I feel too much information located in the book is not even in the syllabus

Thank you,



Great question anon! The truth be told is that the syllabus is the key to acing your wace!

Syllabuses Are the Key

Think about the exam from an examiner's perspective. The goal of the exam for an examiner is to test you on as many syllabus topics as possible. It is unlikely that a 3 hour exam could cover every syllabus topic in great detail. Most examinations aim to cover as much syllabus topics as possible, but given the three hour time limit, what is covered is usually broad and not detailed. At the end of the day, some syllabus topics won't even be featured in the exam as it is not that practical.

Filter Out Your Information

In addition, as a student, your role should be trying to filter out the important information to study for your exams. It is not practical trying to remember everything. Textbooks will cover topics in a lot of detail, and there's good reason for this - it helps you study for topic tests that cover a particular syllabus section in great detail. But when it comes to exams, you have to filter out what important in the textbook and study only what is sufficient.

For example, consider the Economic syllabus point that states the benefits and costs of globalisation. The textbook is likely to feature around 6 different reasons for benefits and costs of globalisation. But when studying for the exam, try to remember only 2-3 reasons, because the exam won't ask for 6 reasons, as if they did, it could accumulate up to 12 marks, which would hinder their ability to allocate marks for other syllabus topics.

If you studied your syllabus and have a broad knowledge of all your syllabus points, I'm sure you can receive a fantastic grade!

It's not the be all and end all

When it comes to exams, feelings of nervousness and hesitate is not uncommon, we all share that same experience. It can be stressful at times trying to remember a whole year's worth of knowledge in the span of a few weeks in preparation for a mock and eventual race examination. The important thing to remember, no matter how cliche it sounds, is to try your best, study what you can but remember that marks alone is not a true indicator of your potential.

At university, I've met with a few commerce employers, including some from the big four, and they say the same thing, they don't measure your potential solely on your grades. At university, there's a bigger emphasis on being more an individual, showing personality, interests, sporting activities, involvement in clubs and the like.

I cannot speak for the other disciplines, but in commerce, the emphasis is more on you, as a person, not what you are as a score or grade. Your ATAR score is just an entry point into university (and a scholarship if you score really lucky). When you're in university, your future employer does not care as much about your ATAR score, they care about you and your ability to show drive, commitment and resilience.

And if you don't get into university through your ATAR score, there are alternative options to consider - never consider your ATAR score the be all and end all. It may be easiest way into university, but it's not the only way. You are more than just a number.

Thanks for question, I hope you got the answer you were looking for!

- Christian

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