Use prelims to your advantage
With the preliminary matric examinations just around the corner, learners should use them as an opportunity to assess their preparedness for their final exams, as well as to boost their year mark and chances of landing a place in their chosen higher education course and institution.
Education expert Wonga Ntshinga, a Senior Head of Programme at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s leading private higher education institution, says many learners don’t understand the importance and the value of their penultimate school exams.
“Often learners view the prelims as an annoying inconvenience on their road to writing their final exams, when in fact these exams are very important for a number of reasons.”
Ntshinga says prelims provide the only objective yardstick to determine how well prepared you are for your final exams, and your performance in these exams should be used to inform your strategy in the lead-up to the finals.
“Prelims provide a great opportunity to consolidate your study methods and adjust them where they are shown to be inadequate. They also help you to experience the kind of the stress you’ll have to endure during final exams, which means that you can use the opportunity to develop better stress management and coping mechanisms if necessary.
“Additionally, you will be able to gauge how much time you require to master your various subjects, which will help you draw up an accurate and effective study roster in the weeks ahead of your final exams. And if you master your current study materials, you won’t need to devote so much time on them later, freeing you up to dedicate your time to mastering any new work which you will encounter in the weeks and months to come.”
Ntshinga says another reason for learners to take the prelim exams very seriously, is because they can influence – positively or negatively – a person’s higher education chances.
“Conditional offers from higher education institutions could still be withdrawn if you do not perform well, while in other instances, the prelim marks may be the ones that will secure you the space you desire.”
Finally, the preliminary results contribute to learners’ overall year mark.
“If you do well in your prelims, you will be able to write your final exams with the peace of mind that comes from being well prepared, and knowing that your overall performance during the past year already puts you in a good position,” Ntshinga says.
Ntshinga says learners should stick to the basic best principles of studying effectively: by organising, preparing and planning.
“It is important that you first organise your time, your work and your environment. Have a clear plan for what you will study every day and ensure you have all the materials you require. When preparing, ensure that you have looked at all your subjects and all the work you need to study for that subject. Then, when you are clear on the scope, draw up a study roster.
“You should stick to this roster, and ensure that you have also factored in time for a second round of revision, as well as writing past papers. Focus on the big, overall picture, and also on the details. If you are happy and confident that you have given it your all in your preparation, you will be able to enter the exam room calmly and with the energy and focus required to perform at your very best.”
As with any examinations, learners should also ensure they maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle, he adds.
“Exercise, eat well, get your eight hours of shut eye every night, and learn to manage your stress. Make time for taking a break with your friends, and don’t get sucked into a pattern of procrastination.
“The next few months will be some of the most important in your life, and their impact will leave an enduring impression on your future ability to build the career of your choice. Yes, it is a sacrifice that you need to make. But soon it will be over, and you will forever thank your future self that you did.”
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