The goal post to the completion of the 2020 National Senior Certificate examinations has been pushed a little it further due to the rewrites of two leaked exam papers.Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
The goal post to the completion of the 2020 National Senior Certificate examinations has been pushed a little it further due to the rewrites of two leaked exam papers.Photographer Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

Tips to help matrics refocus on exams

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Dec 8, 2020

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Instead of finishing on December 15, matrics will now officially be done with their finals on December 17. This is after the Department of Basic Education announced the national rewrite of both the mathematics and physical sciences paper.

While news of the exam extension as a result of the rewrite of the leaked papers has not been taken well by teachers’ unions or education activists and even the affected grade 12 pupils themselves, the deal appears to be done and preparation will be key.

Here is a reminder on how to handle your exam anxiety and tips on what to look out for in the exam.

Anxiety and panic

Take a few minutes to calm down rather than to try to press on with the exam while you're still panicking.

Focus on your breathing: try to breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, and breathe out for as long as you breathe in.

Give yourself something to concentrate on other than the exam and the worry itself. For example, you could doodle on your notepaper, or count backwards from 100.

Remember, you're not trying to get rid of your panic, because it will go away on its own: you're just trying to make yourself more comfortable in the meantime.

How to look through an exam question paper

Know how it's marked

There is a simple basis for about how long you should spend on each question, such as “one minute per mark” rule. Before the exam starts, use the time allocated for reading the instructions well.

Look through the paper first

Make sure you look through the paper and read all the instructions. This helps in a few different ways:

  • It gives you an idea of which sections will require more time than others.
  • You can plan your time better - for example, getting questions you can do easily out of the way early.
  • In essay-based exams, there might be some material that you could use in more than one place, so you need to plan how to get the most out of your knowledge.

Don't waste time if you are stuck

Don't waste time trying to crack it when you've got lots more to do. Leave the difficult question and go back to it later to avoid losing time and missing marks elsewhere. Sometimes, you'll find the question makes more sense when you look at it again after working on something else.

Revise once you finished

Finishing early doesn’t mean you have answered every question to the best of your ability or knowledge. Take time to go through the paper again and check the answers. This will help you correct the mistakes you made. You can use more than one technique to be extra sure. For example, in a maths exam as well as checking your working out you could try to solve a question in a different way, or work through it backwards, and check that the answers agree.

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