Tips to help matrics prepare for their final examinations

2018-10-01 15:24
 (L to R) Grade 12 Pietermaritzburg Girls' High School pupils Tyla Hyde(18) and Anele Mthethwa (18) study in the school library in preparation for the matric exams.

(L to R) Grade 12 Pietermaritzburg Girls' High School pupils Tyla Hyde(18) and Anele Mthethwa (18) study in the school library in preparation for the matric exams. (Ian Carbutt )

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Experts have shared ways to manage stress for guardians and pupils, as well as eating and study tips, to prepare them for the last stretch of a matric pupil’s school career.

With just 14 days left until their final exams, the youngsters have been urged to use the last few days wisely to prepare for their finals.

KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane is also on a matric countdown campaign, travelling all around the province and urging pupils to prepare for their finals.

Hendrik le Roux, a former Maritzburg College pupil who bagged seven distinctions for his final exams last year, encouraged matrics to have a “balance”.

“You shouldn’t push yourself too hard. Study but also find time to cool down and de-stress.”

Le Roux, who is doing his first year in chemical engineering at the University of Pretoria, said getting straight As helped him have more options of what to study after school.

“Good marks made it much easier because I wasn’t stressing about which university would take me. My main focus was just ensuring that I chose the right career.”

Pietermaritzburg educational psychologist Merise Williams said the pressure associated with writing matric finals is understandably stressful — the stress also helps to motivate one to put that phone down and begin studying.

However, stress can become excessive and unhealthy and cause you to burn out and break down, she said.

“Trying to study when you are overly stressed will undoubtedly restrict your ability to adequately memorise the information you are studying. Preventing excessive stress will better help you meet your studying demands.”

First, get organised

This reduces the chances of feeling overwhelmed. Draw up a study plan and organise your books and study space accordingly.

Secondly, be self-motivated

Identify your end goals and have these in sight daily so you are always aware of what you are working towards.

This helps remove your thoughts of worry as you visualise your future.

Thirdly, be conscious of negative thoughts

These may creep up and cause you to doubt your abilities, knowledge and future.

Maintain a positive mind-set — stack up all the evidence in favour of the more productive positive thoughts and recognise the flaws in the negative thoughts that cause you to become overly anxious.

Lastly, know yourself and trust yourself

“If there’s a particular studying method that always works for you and a particular exercise or relaxation technique that works for you, do it,” said Williams.

She said the role for parents and guardians of matriculants was very crucial at this time and could make the difference between just a pass and a merit or distinction.

She said parents and guardians should ensure that their children are in a conducive environment.

“Even if the rest of the household isn’t writing exams, we all need to prioritise our matriculants and ensure the household is free from distractions.

“There will be times when he/she becomes overwhelmed, try to be understanding and not lash back in anger but rather make time to simply listen ... be their shoulder to lean on ...”

Pay attention to what you eat

Stephanie Joyner, a local dietitian, said there was no single food that would dramatically increase brain power and memory, but said it was important that matric pupils pay attention to what they eat and don’t eat while they are studying for their exams.

“Certain eating habits can definitely help a student to stay focused, energised and give them the ability to concentrate on the work they need to do.”

Here are some do’s and don’ts from Joyner:

  • Do choose foods that provide essential fatty acids, which are known to be good for brain health. Fatty fish such as pilchards and sardines are excellent sources of essential fatty acids, as are nuts and seeds.
  • Do choose protein power — including protein in your meals helps to keep your blood sugar stable, keeping you focused. Add things such as eggs, meats or fish (like pilchards or sardines) to your meals.
  • Do go for dark green veggies such as spinach and broccoli, which contain Vitamin K and choline, known to keep the memory sharp.
  • Do fall in love with the beet — beetroot is rich in nitrate, increasing blood flow to the brain.
  • Don’t fall into the sugar trap — sugar provides a very short burst of energy which is quickly followed by a feeling of tiredness and lack of concentration. Avoid snacking and sipping on sugary foods or drinks while studying.

“Of course, these eating habits should go hand-in-hand with enough sleep, daily exercise and a well-planned study time-table,” said Joyner.

Create a special study schedule

Educonnct said having a study plan basically allows pupils to dedicate a fraction of each day of their exam preparation, and let pupils have fun for the entire remaining time. They suggest that pupils:

  • Draw up a study calendar or roster: Create a calendar or roster that reflects all the days of your study break.
  • Choose and dedicate a daily time frame for studying: Pick a time. For example, you decide that every day from 8 am to 4 pm will be dedicated to studying. If you’re a night owl, it could be every day from 3 pm to 10 pm.
  • Allocate a specific study time for each respective exam: You have a whole bunch of exams coming up, but some will need more study time than others.
  • Use your calendar to make a study schedule: Now that you have decided on a time frame as well as the amount of time you need to spend on each exam, write it on the respective day of your calendar.
  • Manage your free time: Once you’ve allocated each exam to a certain study day, you can start thinking about entering other activities to the calendar such as meeting up with friends or exercise.
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  matric exams

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