Turn matric exams into a positive experience

By Drum Digital
19 August 2014

It feels like just yesterday when Grade 11 learners were filled with excitement to be the class of 2014. Now, the mid-year matric exams have come and gone and they face the stress of the final matric exams as well as the insecurity of whether they’ll be able to move to tertiary studies or secure a job next year.

It feels like just yesterday when Grade 11 learners were filled with excitement to be the class of 2014. Now, the mid-year matric exams have come and gone and they face the stress of the final matric exams as well as the insecurity of whether they’ll be able to move to tertiary studies or secure a job next year.

“Matric is the gateway to further study and an indicator of success at the end of 12 gruelling years within the school system – a student who does not pass matric will have no proof of their educational status,” says Natalie Rabson from Boston City Campus & Business College. “It is no wonder that there is such pressure before exam time.”

Due to limited space available at tertiary institutions the stress of being successful in the matric exams becomes more severe, adds Rabson. Having to make a career choice, the affordability of studying further, bursary applications and securing study loans also adds to the pressure.

“Yes, the pressure is on and unfortunately learners go to extreme emotional lengths to make things worse for themselves. It’s as if the fear of failure suddenly takes centre stage. But matric exams shouldn’t be like this – exam time should be a positive academic experience,” says Rabson.

So, how does one best approach this final step in one’s school life and give oneself the competitive edge to be accepted at a tertiary institution? Here are a few tips to share with your teen:

  • Condition yourself not to stress and panic. Normal levels of stress can help you think faster and more effectively but if anxiety becomes overwhelming it can have the opposite effect.
  • It’s been proven that alternating study locations improves retention. This happens because of the way the brain makes associations between what it’s studying and the background sensations that are occurring. Forcing the brain to make many associations with the same material provides the support needed to improve memory.
  • Research shows it’s better to study different but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.  This will help leave a deeper impression on the brain.
  • Writing more – including making class and textbook reading notes and creating review sheets, and of course Mind Maps – helps imprint information, and will improve retention.
  • Avoid cramming – rather space your studies in a way that helps you take in information. This improves memory and doesn’t require more effort.
  • Use the internet when you need to, whether you seek more advice on how best to study for exams or if you need greater explanation on a subject. Continuously test yourself. It will help you store the information better and make it more accessible.
  • Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and remind yourself of those times when you were successful, and what you did to be successful. Stay calm, stay positive and prior to your matric exam, just focus. Try and set the challenges of the year that follows aside.

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