Advice Column, Education, Parenting, Tween & Teen

Matric mid-year exams: create your own lockdown stimulation

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Under normal circumstances, Matric mid-year exams provide a valuable benchmark from which to launch the final push towards the finals. Because of the Covid-19 lockdown, there will be no official mid-year exams this year, but learners should still aim to re-create their own exam experience at home as this provides valuable practise and insights, and an opportunity to improve their performance later this year, an education expert says.

“Much is being asked of our Matric learners this year, who have to complete the final leg of their school journey under very difficult circumstances,” says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.

“Unfortunately, part of the impact of our current situation, is the fact that learners will miss out on one of the most important first tests of their Grade 12 year, the mid-year exam. However, just because there is no official exam scheduled, that doesn’t mean learners can’t still get the benefit from the focused revision and simulation of the exam environment, to test their current readiness and address challenges identified in the process,” Payne says.

With Grade 12s set to return to school at the start of June, some schools may include mock exams as part of the revision strategy, but many may not be in a position to do so.

“These learners can greatly benefit from testing themselves by sourcing and completing past papers, in one sitting, and within a specified timeframe as would have been done in actual formal exams,” says Payne.

“Even better, is to collaborate with your friends, and ‘compete’ against each other, which makes the experience more fun and also ensures accountability and follow-through,” she says.

Payne says that normally mid-year exams would provide learners with valuable insights into where they need to focus their attention in coming months

“By simulating the exam environment, through completing a paper in one sitting within a given time, you will get a good understanding of how you need to pace yourself during the exam. You also get to practise answering questions in different formats which tests your ability to apply your knowledge, and provides deeper consolidation than simply going through your textbooks over and over.”

Usually, mid-year exams are not just the first test run for finals, but they also come with rather high stakes, as these results can be used to provide the proof of performance required for higher education applications, says Payne.

“While you won’t have these results to work with this year, the benefits of completing these exams remain, because simulating the exam environment provides an assessment of how you handle the pressure of the exam room, the efficacy of your study methods, and your ability to master and reflect on large amounts of academic material. Most importantly, you will be able to see early enough whether you need additional help in certain areas, which allows you to act on these issues timeously, and before the prelims you’ll write later this year, the results of which you will be able to use in your higher education application.”

Payne says it is important for Matrics to now focus on their own journey and try make the best of the year, while tuning out the logistical noise around the return to schools as much as possible.

“You may feel very alone right now, and confused about what is going to happen to you and the rest of your year. If you are struggling to focus, remember that your situation is similar to that of hundreds of thousands of other learners across the country, and that your mental and emotional energy is best applied to that is within your control rather than that which is not.

“Universities – public and private – are very aware of the unique challenges and circumstances facing our Class of 2020, and will take these into account. So you do not need to let go of your dreams for the future, and you don’t have to delay your plans to study next year.

“However you must still strive to apply yourself and do the best with what you have in whichever way you can. So your preparations now must focus on doing as well as possible in your prelim exams later this year, because you won’t have mid-year marks to use in support of your application. And preparing for the prelim exams, includes practising the art of exam writing by setting up your own mid-year exam simulation.”

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