Want to study like SA's top students? Here's their advice


No fewer than 119 South African learners from independent schools have done the country proud, receiving prestigious awards from Cambridge International at The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards.

(To see more advice from 2017's top matrics in state and private schools, see: Top Achievers: How they did it.)

Selections were made from 40 schools around the world who follow the Cambridge Assessment International Education curriculum, recognising exceptional achievers from the 2017 June and November exams. 

Award categories included Top in the World, Top in Country, High Achievement and Best Across. 

So, what does it take to reach such an outstanding level of academic success? 

Here are some top tips from four of the awarded learners: 

Annalie Swanepoel, Somerset College

Top in World for Cambridge IGCSE Afrikaans as a Second Language 

The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards 2018

“It was great knowing that hard work truly is rewarded and this achievement motivated me to work especially hard.

“I encourage all students to put in the time to work through the material thoroughly because grasping the key concepts and gaining a full understanding of the work is essential in order to do well in the exams. 

Past papers also proved to be extremely helpful in testing understanding and I encourage all students to try a few of them before taking the exam. 

“After school, I am planning to go to university and study in the field of computer science.”

Daniel van Dyk, Somerset College

Top in World for Cambridge International AS Level Language & Literature in English 

The Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards 2018

“I'm obviously proud of my achievement, but also humbled when I think about those that performed extraordinarily as well, but do not receive much recognition.

“My success is due to the fact that I worked consistently hard throughout the year, and only revised the content at the end.

"I am planning to go to university but undecided between the sciences, applied sciences and humanities.”

Francis Moran, Glenwood High School

Top in South Africa for Cambridge IGCSE Geography and Cambridge IGCSE Global Perspectives

Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards 2018

“I am honoured, and somewhat surprised, to have achieved Top in Country and High Achievement awards in different disciplines in addition to a good performance across the board. 

“After finishing the syllabus content in each subject, my revision was mainly based on doing practice questions, past papers, watching relevant YouTube videos, and making sure that I was in good health by eating well and exercising

“My advice to other students is to work hard, consistently… and make sure that you understand everything you are taught. 

“I am planning on going to university. I am considering medicine, but a lot of other STEM courses interest me as well.”

Niclas Baur, Somerset College

Top in South Africa for Cambridge International A Level Biology 

Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards 2018

“I was quite surprised (and of course very happy) to hear about my Biology achievement. The subject was my main focus last year as I knew I wanted to major in marine biology at university, so this was very important to me. 

“It was tough at times, and I was very stressed before the A Level finals. The biggest step-up was ... not necessarily due to an increase in difficulty, but because the workload was much larger than what I was accustomed to. 

“I prepared for the finals by reading and re-reading sections from the textbook over and over to get a feel for what I most needed to study, then making summary notes of those sections and working through past papers. 

“I am currently a first year BSc student at the University of Cape Town, majoring in Marine Biology.” 

Did your child receive top scoring marks in past exams? How did they do it? Share tips for exam success by emailing to chatback@parent24.com and we could publish them. 

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