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


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The moment of truth has arrived for this year’s Grade 12s. With fewer than 100 days until the start of their final examinations, the Class of 2019 now has to pull out all the stops to ensure they achieve to their full potential, as their final results will play a decisive role in the options open to them in years to come.

In preparing for these assessments, there is one study hack that should be added to the overall strategy, which can pack an outsized punch down the line: completing as many past papers as possible, an education expert says.

“Writing past exam papers helps your preparation on several levels,” says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education institution.

“In addition to covering the material you studied in a practical way, you also get a deeper understanding of how you need to pace yourself to ensure you complete a paper within the required time. So you get used to the stress of being faced with problems and questions in different formats and the way papers are structured, as well as deep practise applying your knowledge. You also get more thorough insight into your work, which you can’t duplicate by simply reading and re-reading your textbooks until the day of the exam,” he says.

Ntshinga says learners who are serious about their performance later this year, should reflect on their mid-year exam experience and results.

“Your June exams would have given you a good idea of where you did well, and where you need extra focus. It is particularly those subjects in which you struggled, or in which you could have performed better, which can benefit from the completion of past exam papers,” he says.

“So in addition to your existing revision strategy, commit to writing a past paper a week in each of the subjects that can do with a boost – the benefit of taking this approach is that it will give you a much greater return on the investment of your time and focus than almost any other form of revision,” he says.

And the good news is that there are several ways in which past papers can be relatively easily accessed.

“Most schools should make past papers available to their learners, but it is also a good idea to get ones in addition to those provided by your school,” says Ntshinga.

“You will find countless past papers on the web and on educational and government websites. Additionally, good higher education institutions also help matric learners by providing past papers, so go visit a registered and accredited institution close to you, and ask for assistance from their student advisors. On top of making past papers available, the benefit of speaking to a student advisor is that they will also be able to talk through your struggles and concerns, and advise you on additional ways in which you can conquer your work.”

Ntshinga says that while the final exams may feel rather far away at the moment, the last few months of the Matric year fly by in the blink of an eye, and learners should get into their preparation without delay.

“Every day and every week counts, and you must use your time wisely now. Don’t wait until next week to start your final countdown. Make sure you have your study roster in place, that you consistently stick to your plans, and that you stay on top of things. Discipline during these next few months, and the small victory of making your daily targets, will build confidence and capability. And doing just that extra little work every week on the subjects that need greater attention, will make a substantial and potentially decisive difference to your final results,” he says.

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