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Frequently asked questions

This page contains general information about studying in Australia, including resources for each state. For additional advice specific to your circumstances, contact your school counsellor, teacher or the education board in your state.

Issues commonly raised by students

Issues commonly raised by parents

General issues

Issues commonly raised by students

What are the best ways of studying and learning?

Every student has different learning needs, preferences and styles. Below are some links which may support you to achieve positive results.

The Kids Helpline website provides a list of general techniques for managing learning and homework and the stress of preparing for exams.

Youth Central website also provides a range of tips, guides and resources for getting the most out of your study, including ‘Top 10 study tips’:

The How to Study website is a comprehensive U.S based resource with helpful ideas about managing study.

For study tips relating to specific subjects, speak to your teacher or consider hiring a tutor to help with challenging topics. Working through past exam and test papers can also be beneficial.

How is it best to revise?

It is best to start revision as soon as possible during your school term. There is evidence people can forget up to 60% of what they were taught within the first 24 hours if action isn’t taken to reinforce new knowledge. The reach out website provides some tips on exam preparation and revision.

I can’t seem to get the books for my course of study

It’s important to let your teacher/lecturer know that you have been unable to source the required books as soon as possible. They may be able to suggest a different text or loan you a copy with equivalent reading or problems to be done.

The institution’s library may have a copy on “closed reserve” (which means the book can’t be checked out and must be used in the library). Try using the internet to download an electronic copy or ask your classmates if you can borrow theirs.

I’m always tired and can’t concentrate in class

VCES and MRCAETS Education Board members offer advice, guidance and support to students and their families. They may speak with families and students privately, or provide additional information during workshops or meetings at local schools. Please contact the Education Secretary in your State if you have any questions. 

The kids help and reachout websites provide tips on coping with stress and maintaining healthy sleeping habits.

Other students pressure me to try drugs, sex or alcohol

The kids help website has advice about coping with peer pressure and the negative effects of drugs and alcohol.

I find it hard to make friends

The kids help and reachout websites provide advice on making friends; the reachout website also provides some useful tips about moving to a new school and starting university.

Issues raised by parents

How do I enrol my child in a new school?

Before your child can attend a new school, you should inform the current school that the student will be leaving. The current school can give advice and forward the school records, once they have been notified by the new school that the student is enrolled.

Parents may like to make enquiries about:

  • whether they are entitled to a refund if they had paid school fees at the current school for the full year, or whether the current school will send the fee proportion to the new school;
  • whether the new school offers the same courses;
  • what textbooks are used at the new school.

My child cannot understand his/her teacher or is struggling with class work

Students receiving benefits under DVA’s Education Schemes can apply for limited additional tuition funds. Contact your DVA Education Schemes Secretary for application forms.

The kidspot website provides tips for parents with children who are struggling at school, other advice is available through the parenting simply website.

My child thinks he/she is doing the wrong units/subjects

There may be several reasons that your child has not been placed in the correct classes:

  • The school or tertiary institution may have class size limits;
  • Some classes may have prerequisite subjects which must be completed for enrolment;

If the student’s interests and/or career direction have changed it may be worth talking to the school or tertiary institution about swapping into more appropriate classes.

If your child is still at school you should speak with the Principal, Teacher or Counsellor/ Guidance Officer. If your child is already at a university or technical college, the student should contact the institution’s Student Guidance Service, Lecturer or Tutor to discuss the concern.

How do I help my child manage stress at exam time?

There are many websites around with tips for coping with study and exam stress including the kidshelp website and the reachout website.

What is a student portfolio and is it important?

Many schools require students to maintain a student portfolio, usually including:

  1. Title page with full name, current address and a recent photograph. This section might also include be a copy of the birth certificate or passport page showing nationality, and naturalisation certificate.
  2. School reports, certificates (such as workplace, lifesaving, first aid, diving, fire-fighting courses, sporting, academic or music certificates or awards, etc).
  3. A brief resume of schooling details, interstate/overseas transfers, siblings, and any major illnesses or hospitalisations.
  4. Character references, preferably a minimum of two.
  5. A personal statement by the student about his/her aspirations for his/her future, possible areas of employment, and attitude towards life and community involvement, preferably signed by the student and dated.

A student portfolio is not a static document; it needs to be constantly updated to demonstrate the best aspects of the student.

My child spends too much time on the phone or in front of computers or TV

Technology can be used to enhance teaching and learning. Many students are required to use computers or tablets to complete their homework tasks or to study. If your child appears to be excessively tired, has sore eyes, or is constantly rubbing his/her eyes then it’s possible that they are spending too much time looking at a screen.

Consider taking your child to an optometrist for an eye check, encouraging longer breaks between sections of study, or changing the routine so the amount of intensive computer work can be reduced.

The Department of Health has developed guidelines about recommended levels of physical activity, play, sedentary behaviour (sitting) and ‘screen time’ for children.

If you’re concerned about the safety of your child and social networking sites, further information is available on the kids help website. Information about cyber bullying is also available.

My child is being bullied by other students at school. What can I do?

VCES and MRCAETS Education Board members offer advice, guidance and support to students and their families. They may speak with families and students privately, or provide additional information during workshops or meetings at local schools.

Please contact the Education Secretary in your State if you have any questions. For contact details please click the link to your State or Territory

This interactive website has some information on coping with bullying.

How do we decide which technical college or university my child should attend?

There are some questions to ask about the factors that will affect this decision, including:

  • Will your child stay at home, board with relatives or live in student accommodation?
  • If your child id living away from home, is your child mature enough to handle a separation from parents and friends and cope with cooking, laundry, room cleanliness responsibilities?
  • Boarding and other costs can vary considerably. Will your child bear accommodation fees upfront, access a student loan or is other help available?
  • Has your child considered the time, cost and safety of public transport or other options to travel to and from their place of study, workplace and home? Car-parks and public parking around tertiary institutions can be limited and expensive and it is important to consider what scenario is sustainable.
  • The course your child wants to do may determine which institution he/she must attend. “Careers Nights” at secondary schools will provide this sort of information and the course guides available online for each university or TAFE list the available courses.
  • Is your child academically strong enough to be likely to get an offer to attend that TAFE, college or university? i.e. is his/her ATAR high enough?
  • Are you aware that if your child pursues an apprenticeship or traineeship they may still be eligible for support under the Education Schemes?

Further information about university courses across Australia is available through the ‘what degree’ website and details about Australian apprenticeships and traineeships are available on the Australian Apprenticeships website or the AA Pathways website.

Are there other ways to enter university aside from the ATAR score?

The most common way of gaining entrance to a university is by year 12 school students gaining an ATAR score for "normal admission" application through their state/territory’s university admissions centre. However, an increasing number of "enabling course" entries are being provided by universities.

If your child did not achieve the ATAR required for their preferred course, you should seek advice from the relevant university about alternative pathways into that course.

Is financial assistance available to help support my child through university?

You may be able to access financial assistance under DVA’s Education Schemes. More information about the types and levels of assistance is also available. Students may also be eligible for a Student Start-Up Scholarship or Relocation Scholarship paid by DVA. Children of Vietnam veterans may be eligible for the Long Tan Bursary for post-secondary education.

A range of other scholarships (not administered by DVA) may be available to assist with study costs. A range of Commonwealth Government means-tested payments may also be available to support eligible students.

The Government administers the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) to assist students studying at university or an approved private higher education provider with the cost of fees.

Be aware that accepting one form of assistance may preclude the other forms of financial assistance, so it will be necessary to identify which scheme will be most useful. Please contact the Education Secretary in your State if you have any questions. For contact details please click the link to your State or Territory. 

How can my child best prepare for a Job Interview?

A number of resources about preparing for job interviews, such as how to create an interview folio and what to do at an interview are available on the youth central website.

I’m worried about my child misbehaving and not facing the consequences.

The kids help website discusses the types of risk-taking behaviour young adults might engage in and some of the reasons for this kind of behaviour and provides tips to parents to help their children stay safe.

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General issues

Why is homework set for students?

Where schools and teachers require students to complete homework, it reflects the need for learning to be reinforced, but it should be set with an adherence to certain principles.

Homework should be:

  • appropriate to the student's skill level and age;
  • purposeful, meaningful and relevant to the curriculum;
  • interesting, challenging and when appropriate, open ended;
  • assessed by teachers with feedback and support provided; and
  • balanced with a range of recreational, family and cultural activities.

Homework reinforces learning and helps students develop skills by:

  • reinforcing work studied during class
  • developing research skills
  • developing time management skills
  • helping to develop good study habits
  • developing concentration
  • developing self-discipline
  • providing support for children who may be struggling with a topic
  • providing challenges and stimulus for children
  • enabling parents to see how their child is progressing at school
  • bridging the gap between learning at school and home.

How much homework should a student be doing?

Homework requirements will vary depending upon the school, subject and the age and learning abilities of the student. Guidelines can be found on state or territory government education websites. You can ask your child’s school for a copy of the homework policy (if there is one).

Information specific to your State or Territory can be found here:

What is a “Gap Year”?

At the end of Year 12, some students may want to travel and work overseas before going on to tertiary studies.

What is an ATAR?

An ATAR is an “Australian Tertiary Admission Rank” it is calculated for any student who satisfies the requirements of a Tertiary Admission Aggregate (TAA), calculated from the Year 12 scaled scores in the best four subjects taken at the November examinations, plus 10% of the best LOTE (Language Other Than English) scores.

There are some TAA rules:

  1. The best four scales scores can be accumulated over five consecutive years, but no course or subject can count more than once.
  2. There are some combinations of courses/subjects for which both subjects cannot count.
  3. The LOTE bonus cannot apply to a LOTE subject taken before 2011; if more than one LOTE subject was taken, only one LOTE bonus can be used; and the LOTE bonus will count, even if LOTE was not amongst the four best scaled scores.
  4. The maximum TAA is 410.

A student’s ATAR can range from 99.95 down to zero. It ranks a student relative to all other students. In university courses where entry is very competitive, the higher a student’s ATAR, the better the chance of being offered a place in that course.

Different tertiary institutions can also set further criteria, such as performance and interviews for entry to certain courses at their university. The secondary school your child is attending, and the particular university of interest will be able to give you more details (or try the university’s website for details as their details sometime change from year to year.)

While the ATAR is important for university entrance, some students get unduly concerned about the whole issue of external examinations and “What if I don’t pass, or don’t get a high enough ATAR score?” First of all, it is possible to repeat year 12 and get another ATAR the following year. Also there are a considerable number of educators who believe there is too much emphasis on ATAR kind of issues and not enough on educating young people to be positive and worthwhile citizens, who are contributors to our society.

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State specific information

Information about education contacts in each State and Territory may be accessed by clicking the State or Territory on the map of Australia below.

map

WASANTVicNSW and ACTNSW and ACTQldTas

New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

Information about the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC).

Homework policy guidelines can be found here:

Northern Territory

Information about the Northern Territory Certificate of Education (NTCE).

Homework policy guidelines can be found here:

Homework (PDF 25 KB)

South Australia

Information about the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) can be found here:

Homework policy guidelines can be found here

Homework

Tasmania

Information about the Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE).

Queensland

Information about the Queensland Core Skills Test (QCS), Overall Positions (OPs) and Field Positions (FPs).

Homework policy guidelines can be found here:

Homework Policy (PDF 203 KB)

Western Australia

Information about the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE).

Homework policy guidelines can be found here:

Homework Guidelines

Victoria

Information about the Victorian Certificate of Education.

Homework policy guidelines can be found here:

Homework guidelines

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