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You are far more than your ATAR

From Director of Student Wellbeing, Matthew Porter

Congratulations to all of the Year 12 students who are wrapping up their final exams and looking forward to a long well earned summer break. Best wishes for a bright future ahead. The final year of secondary school is important, but it will not be the most important year of your life. Keep things in perspective because you’re far more than your ATAR score. Your performance in Year 12 is only a measure of your ability in a test or exam at one point in time. While it does not determine your worth as an individual, it does provide a handy stepping-stone in determining the post-secondary school opportunities available.

For students in younger year levels assessments are still very much a part of their daily reality. Each assessment item and examination gives students and their families an opportunity to reflect on their preparation and their performance. This is a chance to figure out what works best for you so that you can put your best foot forward when your HSC exams come along. Youth Beyond Blue has a number of helpful tips on how to manage exam stress so that the pressure won’t get the better of you.

Tip 1 – Get enough sleep, adolescents should be getting between 8-10 hours sleep per night. Sleep plays a vital role not only in rest and recuperation but also the formation of new memories and the sorting, organising and categorising of new information so that it can be accessed more efficiently.

Tip 2 – Drop distractions, the national physical activity guidelines (NPAG) suggest no more than 2 hours screen time per day. Easier said than done when students spend much of the day on laptops for educational purposes. Add to this, significant amounts of leisure time staring at phones, video games or other screens. Backlit objects and any light before bedtime inhibits the release of melatonin, a neurotransmitter, which regulates our sleep wake cycle. This may help explain why some of our boys have trouble getting to sleep at night.

Tip 3 – Get up and get moving. The physical benefits of regular physical exercise are well documented. So too are the social, emotional and intellectual benefits of increasing blood flow and oxygenation of the brain. Exercise also secretes endorphins, serotonin and other “feel good hormones” which elevate mood.

Tip 4 – Humans are by nature social creatures our sense of belonging to family, social networks, friendships and the local community have a huge bearing on self-esteem. According to Dr Andrew Fuller an adolescent’s sense of belonging is the most powerful determinants of our holistic wellbeing. Our communities need to regard young people as our future and as a valuable resource to create a better world.

Tip 5 – Ask for help. Often, when we are faced with stressful times, we shut down, withdraw and become insular. We may feel embarrassed about the source of our stress or be afraid that reaching out and admitting that we help may make us appear weak. It takes a great deal of courage and inner strength to admit to ourselves and others that things are not going as well as we might like. Draw on the experience and expertise of friends, family, teaching staff and other significant adults to share the burden of these challenging times.