Matrics from the Class of 2018 should now be deep into preparing for their upcoming mock exams – which are only a few weeks away – and ultimately the final exams of their school careers in two months' time.
With only a handful of weeks left to revise, they now need to up the ante to ensure they get the best marks possible on their prelims. Doing so will enable them firstly to see which areas need more work before they write their finals, and will also ensure that they get the very best marks to allow them access to the higher education institution and qualification of their choice.
"Learners now need to go beyond reading and re-reading their textbooks and notes, and employ a more holistic strategy which will position them to bring their very best to the exam room," says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education institution.
Ntshinga says that at this stage of the game, the PROVES method is a great approach to follow, as it helps to cement the academic work in the learner's mind, while expanding understanding from different angles. Additionally, it gets learners in the right frame of mind, to withstand the anxiety and stress which can negatively impact performance.
The PROVES method can be broken down as follows:
- PRACTISE by writing past papers or example questions rather than just reading. Most schools should make past papers available to their learners, but it is also a good idea to get ones in addition to those provided by your school.
Good higher education institutions also help matric learners by providing past papers, so go visit a registered and accredited one in your area, and ask a student advisor to assist.
As a bonus, the student advisor might even be able to talk through some of your concerns about the exams and your post-matric options, which will further help to mitigate any anxiety you may have.
- REFRESH by making sure you are eating, sleeping and exercising enough. Cramming into the early hours of the morning before an exam will leave you stressed, exhausted and unable to focus. It is important now to look after your physical and mental health as well as throwing your weight behind your books. Learners still have enough time to cover what they need to cover ahead of the exams, but then the plan needs to be put into motion right away, to avoid last-minute panic and the resultant impact on their physical wellbeing.
- ORGANISE yourself, your time and your work. Having a neat working environment and a clear plan for what you need to do and study every day, as well as having the relevant materials sorted and on hand, will go a long way to reduce anxiety and optimise learning.
Follow the plan closely but avoid spending hours every day on the plan rather than the implementation of the plan. Don't allow yourself to feel overwhelmed, but focus on the small efforts – hour after hour, day after day – which, when compounded, will ultimately make a big impact.
- VISUALISE by using colour and mind maps and other strategies rather than just words, so that you can use more of your brain.
- EXPLAIN by answering questions or telling friends or relatives about your work. It is not until you have tried to explain what you know that you can assess if you know enough to answer the questions.
- SOCIAL MEDIA can be used as an academic tool to expand your understanding and grasp of your work. This can best be done by getting together a study group of equally dedicated and committed peers, and using the various platforms for specific purposes. Being part of a study group helps you track your progress, can quickly help you clarify your understanding of issues or set you on the right track if you have misunderstood something, and it also acts as an early warning system if you are falling behind.
The various channels and apps can be used as follows:
GOOGLE to find a wealth of online resources. From how to handle exam stress, to self-marking mock papers, study timetable templates and content/concept lists. Do a search for "Matric Exams 2018" which will provide many excellent results which can assist you in your preparation and motivation.
A dedicated WHATSAPP study group enables discussion, last minute clarifications and sharing of notes. It is best to align study breaks within the group, and put your mobile on airplane mode while you're hitting the books. When taking a break, connect with your peers via WhatsApp to share your understanding, successes and concerns.
FACEBOOK groups for specific subjects is a great way to share materials and visuals, while enabling group discussions.
When it's time to take a break from the written word, go to YOUTUBE to find videos related to the content you are studying. Sometimes seeing something explained in video format will clarify things you just weren't able to pin down while going through your textbooks.
"The next few weeks and months are going to be taxing for learners preparing for their final exams, but by following a strict study strategy and doing what needs to be done every day – without allowing panic and procrastination to set in – there is still sufficient time even for learners who aren't quite where they should be at the moment," Ntshinga says.
"And by incorporating this strategy into their approach right now, many learners will also find a new feeling of empowerment to take on the additional burden that higher education will bring."