Success is no accident and talent is cheaper than table salt.
According to every successful person in the history of success, the thing that separates the winners from the duds is a ton of hard work.
Revising past papers is a critical part of preparing for your exams. You may well be a talented History or English student, but the structure of questions and the themes which commonly appear across past papers aren’t necessarily taught in the classroom. This insight will also help you understand how to prepare your study notes to maximise your chance of success.
Benefits of reviewing past exam papers
Reviewing past exam papers can help you:
- Understand the typical structure and number of questions you should expect
- Familiarise yourself with the style and phrasing of questions, and build confidence in answering according to a defined structure (multiple choice, short form, long form etc)
- Identify gaps in your knowledge
- Work within allotted time frames
- Test your knowledge without the support of your study notes.
Studying past papers can absolutely be time consuming, especially if you’re already operating against the clock, but we strongly believe that it’s worth downloading at least one or two papers and doing a trial run of each in order to truly become exam ready.
The rationale for the introduction of the Australian Curriculum centres on improving the quality, equity and transparency of Australia’s education system.
Past exam papers and how to find what you’re looking for
You can search for past exam papers by state, subject and year. We don’t recommend going back too far into the past as curriculum updates may affect the structure and content of exams. Start with the most recent papers (preferably those belonging to the previous year) to ensure you’re reviewing the most up-to-date requirements.
State education sites are the best place to find official exam papers. Although many private education companies offer model practice papers, it’s best to begin with government exams from previous years.
State exam papers contain copyright material owned by each state education authority. Make sure you read the guidelines for downloading and sharing past papers from each site.
Free past exam papers
In NSW, the Higher School Certificate (HSC) is awarded by the Board of Studies. Students are required to complete 12 units of study in Year 12, which is the equivalent of six subjects. In NSW, the only compulsory subject is English, which means everybody sits the HSC English exam.
The Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) is completed by all Year 12 students who would like to be awarded an ATAR in Victoria. There are over 90 VCE subjects and students are required to choose 16 for their senior studies. Like NSW, English is a compulsory subject.
The Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) is Queensland’s senior school qualification. It requires students to complete at least 20 credits, 12 of which must come from the QCAA’s core courses. English a compulsory subject.
To complete the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE), students need to achieve 200 credits across Year 11 and Year 12, 50 of which come from compulsory courses. These include a combination of English and Maths subjects, as well as a research project and personal learning plan
The Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) requires students to complete 20 units over Year 11 and Year 12. Compulsory subjects include English, an arts, language or social sciences course, as well as a maths, science or technology subject.
The Northern Territory Certificate of Education and Training (NTCET) requires students to complete 200 credits over Year 11 and Year 12, with compulsory literacy and numeracy courses in both years. Students must achieve a A, B or C grade in each compulsory subject in order to qualify for their NTCET.
NTCET English past papers (administered by the South Australia Department of Education)
NTCET Maths past papers (administered by the South Australia Department of Education)
The Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TASC) requires students to complete the requirements for five standards, including:
- ‘Everyday adult’ reading, writing and communication (in English)
- ‘Everyday adult’ mathematics
- ‘Everyday adult’ use of computers and the internet
- A prescribed level of participation and achievement in education and training (120 credit points)
- Requirements for planning future education and training.
ACT students are graded according to a system of continuous school-based assessment. This means that there are no external subject-based exams as part of the senior curriculum. The ACT Scaling Test (AST) is held during the first Tuesday and Wednesday of September and sat by all senior students looking to gain an ATAR.
- Multiple choice (80 questions focused on humanities, social sciences, sciences and mathematics areas)
- Short response (19-25 general thinking and reasoning questions)
- Writing task (students are given a stimulus and asked for a 600 word response on the material)
Stuck on an answer and need more help?
It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed when you first begin prep. Exam papers are often very different from the way you’ve learned in class or via a textbook. The logic, wording and structure of questions are often designed to challenge your usual way of thinking, which is why targeted exam prep is always recommended.
If you’re still struggling it might be useful to seek additional help. Cluey’s personalised ATAR tutoring is specifically focused on exam prep, identifying gaps in your learning and building your confidence in your ability to answer exam-style questions. Our expert tutors go at your pace, breaking down topics until you just get it.
Advice on reducing stress
Don’t go it alone! There are so many wonderful resources available to support senior students and help alleviate your stress. Our education experts have put together some helpful articles on optimising your reading time during exams, motivation hacks for effective study and even the best revision tips according to science.
How to study more effectively
Successful study habits often boil down to creating and keeping a good routine. Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, it’s important to cater to these needs to ensure maximum productivity.
We’ve put together a handy study guide, including a downloadable study planner, to help you make the most of your exam prep time.
Check out our full study guide and grab your FREE study planner here.