Balance your life to balance the books, says matric pupil with 9 distinctions

2019-01-03 17:38
Stephanie Babiolakis earned 9 distinctions in the 2018 IEB matric results (supplied)

Stephanie Babiolakis earned 9 distinctions in the 2018 IEB matric results (supplied)

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Stephanie Babiolakis loves numbers.

She has a passion for mathematics that was sparked by a particularly energetic and inspiring Grade 8 teacher. It saw her spending many happy hours studying at the small study centre in the middle of the mathematics classrooms cluster at Saheti High School in Johannesburg.

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On Thursday, two numbers summed up Babiolakis' matric year: 9 – the number of distinctions she earned, and 87%, which was her average for the year.

She plans to go on to study either actuarial science or accounting at Wits University, Babiolakis told News24 after the announcement of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric results on Thursday.

The prospective accountant says that the secret to her academic success was learning how to balance her life, before she balanced the books.


During exam time, Babiolakis would spend at least five hours a day studying – three hours for past papers and two for revision.

But while hard work matters, "balance" in her life made all the difference.

"Every Friday night I'd give myself time off," she says, adding that she allowed herself to relax over the holidays.

To achieve high marks such as hers, Babiolakis says many sacrifices have to be made, such as time spent on sports or other activities.

"Sometimes I'd actually forget to eat dinner," she says.

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But in spite of her gruelling academic schedule, Babiolakis tried to make time for her other passions: basketball and playing the marimbas, "a way to take your mind off of things".

Support from her family and teachers also played a big part in her success.

Study groups

Her two older brothers helped, surprising her by putting a welcome McDonald's meal on her bed when she arrived home from a long day, feeling too tired to study.

"My mom would also put up with a lot of mood swings. My boyfriend also supported me, and we would sit and study together. Studying in groups really helps."

On Thursday morning, Babiolakis told News24 her only regret was not taking on another subject in IT. There are only so many hours in a day, she concedes.

Having just left her school where pupils had gathered to get their results formally, she is off to join her friends in marking the occasion, with a celebratory waffle at a restaurant nearby.

"I'm over the moon right now," she says.

Read more on:    matric results  |  matric 2018

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