Tips to help matriculants manage the psychological impact of Covid-19 as they write their exams

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"It is important to acknowledge the psychological impact of Covid-19 on learners."  Photo: Getty Images
"It is important to acknowledge the psychological impact of Covid-19 on learners." Photo: Getty Images

The matric class of 2021 is still persevering on for their last challenge - their final examinations. 

The past year has been extraordinarily tough, especially for learners fighting to pass their examinations despite the Covid-19 pandemic and other disruptions that happened this year.

However, to be fully prepared during these examinations, learners may need to be healthy and mentally prepared to tackle them.

Parent24 chatted to Rebecca Pretorius, South Africa Country Manager at Crimson Education, about how pupils can balance their exams and health during the pandemic.

Pretorius says, "It is important to acknowledge the psychological impact of Covid-19. The most common changes in how pupils may be feeling compared to before the pandemic could be lack of motivation, anxiety, stress, and isolation."

"Because of this, it is important to look after your physical and mental health to get you through what is, even outside of a pandemic, a stressful period for a pupil, and also help you fight Covid-19 if you get it," added Pretorius.

Read: A top matriculant's guide to surviving exams, from productivity hacks to diet and more

She says it all starts with eating a healthy diet as this will help you to function properly.

Secondly, Pretorius suggests that learners should schedule some free time and fill it with exercises and activities to restore them.

"Since most of your time will be spent at your desk and in front of your books, you want to make sure that this time is well-spent and effective and not a drain on your mental and emotional health," adds Pretorius.

Below, she included some practical ways to help learners beat exam stress and remain mentally and physically healthy.

Hack yourself

Pretorius says that knowing your routine and creating habits that will drive you forward is critical.

She adds that this may include managing your time effectively by scheduling your free time, as that will allow you to remain productive and healthy.

Study right

She says that effective note-taking is essential when studying for examinations, such as using headings, underlying keywords or numbering your work to be organised.

Pupils should use their diary to organise and prioritise their free-time activities to ensure they have enough time for their study load.

"Exams are predictable. Use study guides as practice. Use the syllabus or your schoolbooks to base your study around," says Pretorius.

Exam strategies

She says that pupils need to be familiar with the exams - the exam structures, the types of exam questions, and she says that the ideal way to formulate responses does not change.

Here are some tips for going through practice exams/past papers:

1. Start with an open book and check answers as you go before getting closer and closer to replicating the exam conditions.

2. Mistakes are great, as they identify your weak points that you can hone in on.

3. Make sure you complete several past exam papers

4. Any mistakes, make sure to work out how to get to the correct answer or ask your teacher.

5. Make sure you do similar amounts of practice exams for all your subjects so that you are equally knowledgeable and do not sacrifice any subjects.

6. Go through the memos after trying the exams. Note difficult questions and read the answers.

Also read: Why students don't attend lectures: what we found at a South African university

Tips for effective recall

Pretorius says that there is still a dependency on retrieval or recalls to show understanding, so you must study in a way that effectively helps you memorise content, stressing that reading notes will not help you, but active reading will.

Maintain relationships 

She says, "While you need time alone to focus on your studies, do not isolate yourself."

"Stick to your routine as much as you can to eat with your family, get in your stimulating activities, and talk about what you are struggling with or what is going well," shared Pretorius.

Find more free exam resources here.


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