Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education, Parenting, Study Assistance, Study Tips, Tween & Teen


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Many of South Africa’s Matric learners are approaching their looming final examinations filled with dread and anxiety, in anticipation that they won’t do very well or, even worse, fail the most important assessment in their academic life so far.

Unfortunately, this fear alone can cause them to lose focus when they can least afford it, an education expert says.

“This fear of failure is often based on the incorrect perception that a weak performance in your Matric final exams means the end of the road for your dreams and aspirations, and any chance you had of studying or finding work in the future,” says Lovemore Masunda, Senior Student Advisor at Oxbridge Academy.

“However, that perception is not based on reality, because the fact is that there are many options available to learners who aren’t successful the first time,” he says.

Masunda says that it is important that these learners understand two things: firstly, that there are different paths to success and, secondly, that they still have enough time left to make a focused effort before the exams, which will further improve their prospects, even in the worst case scenario.

“Make no mistake; we are not advising learners to slack now. We urge them to do their utmost best. What we are saying, is that if you are so consumed with fear and anxiety that you aren’t able to give your preparation your best effort, you can now put those worries out of your mind. Doing so will allow you to focus and regain a sense of control over your work.

“This can mean the difference between having to redo Matric completely, or only having to rewrite some subjects. Or it could mean the difference between rewriting several subjects as opposed to only one or two. At the end of the day, you should throw everything behind preparing as best as possible now, rather than feeling helpless and hopeless over what you may think is a done deal in terms of your results.”

Masunda says deciding on a remedial route after receiving the results is best done by approaching a student advisor at a high-quality institution. Since there are so many options, it is best to speak to an expert to determine what is best for each individual. These include, but are not limited to, the following:


In the unfortunate event that you fail, or don’t get Matric exemption, you can complete your Matric via distance learning. This option is affordable, can be done in the comfort of your own home (which means that you don’t need to return to school), and learning materials are user-friendly and easy to understand. On top of that, good institutions will have excellent tutor support available both telephonically and online.


Another option is to only rewrite those subjects you failed, or those in which you would like to achieve better marks. That is why ensuring that you do as well as possible now will pay off later.


An Intro to N4 course is like a bridging course, as it allows you to progress to N4, N5 and N6.  After completing N6, you can apply to the Department of Higher Education and Training for a National Diploma, provided that you have gained 18 months of relevant practical experience. Passing an N4 level qualification is comparable to Matric, and persevering through N4 to N5 will make you more employable than someone who only has a Matric certificate.


A vocational course provides the specific skills and theoretical knowledge required in fields such as, for instance, project management, health and safety, logistics and supply chain management, and contact centre operations. All of these courses can be completed without having a Matric certificate and via distance learning, which means that you can even start earning while you’re learning.

“It goes without saying that having a Matric certificate is better than not having one, and that your aim should be to earn your National Senior Certificate (NSC) with the best results you are able to achieve. However, for thousands upon thousands of learners, the reality is that they may not perform as well as they hoped to at the end of the year,” says Masunda.

“So, for them it is essential to take a load off their minds by ensuring they understand there is life after not-so-great results. Freeing up this mental energy and directing it towards exam prep will also ultimately make a world of difference to a learner’s performance.”

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