Matrics should use their remaining study time wisely. Picture: Timothy Bernard African News Agency (ANA)

The National Senior Certificate exams countdown clock on the Department of Basic Education’s website shows that the Class of 2019 will sit down to their last school exams in less than 50 days. 

With little more than a few weeks left, Grade 12s are starting to feel the pressure, and should now be strategising how to best use their time before these watershed assessments, an education expert says.

“Your approach to studying shouldn’t be random or haphazard at this stage, but should leverage the learnings from your prelim exams, to build on your strengths and to identify and address weaknesses,” says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education institution.

She says the act of sitting down in a similar environment and under similar conditions to final exams would have provided learners with valuable lessons about their performance under pressure.

Payne says there are a number of steps matric learners can now take to optimise their learning gained from prelim exams, to performing their best during the finals.

REVIEW PRELIM EXAM PAPERS

Determining where you did well and where you went wrong during the penultimate Matric exams can be a great confidence booster. Focusing on and mastering those sections of work which proved problematic during the prelims means that you are concentrating on material that is very likely to arise during the final exams, and for which you will now be well prepared when it does.

COMPLETING PAST EXEMPLAR PAPERS

It should by now be common knowledge for most matrics that completing past exam papers is one of the best and most efficient ways to prepare for exams. The reason for this is because you apply what you have learned, you replicate the time constraints you’ll encounter during the actual exams, you get used to different formats of questions, and ultimately gain a more thorough insight into your work than what you would have achieved through simple reading and re-reading of textbooks.

MAPPING THE QUESTIONS ASKED TO THE WORK COVERED IN CLASS AND TEXTBOOKS

When revising – whether by reviewing classwork, textbooks, completing past papers or looking at prelim exam papers – take note of which questions are asked time and time again. There is an excellent chance these questions will be making their appearance in your own final exams, albeit potentially in a different format, so ensure that you pay extra attention to them.

HIGHLIGHT SECTIONS AND QUESTIONS THAT WERE PROBLEMATIC OR CHALLENGING

If you constantly find yourself struggling with specific questions or sections of work, and if these consistently arose in previous papers, it is time to do the hard work and face down the challenge. Compile a document for each subject, summarizing the hardest to conquer sections, and keep this close by at all times. Go back to it over and over, and in 2 months’ time you will be much more confident when faced with previously problematic work.

CREATE A DOCUMENT SUMMARISING THE SECTIONS WITH WHICH YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE

While work with which you feel more comfortable requires less of your focus, it is good to have a document summarizing these sections as well, to reference in coming weeks. Focusing only on the hard stuff, without occasionally going back to the easier stuff, could lead to an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation. You need to maintain a good balance of hard work on the challenging material, with deep consolidation of the work which you have already mastered.