Matric exams: do this and you will wing it

It is crunch time for the class of 2016.

MBOMBELA – A total of 60 764 matric pupils in Mpumalanga officially started their final exams with their first English paper on Wednesday at 09:00.

In 2015, 43 229 learners matriculated, giving the province a pass rate of 78,6 per cent.

In the next five weeks the pupils’ ability to convey what they had learnt over the past 12 years will be assessed. smoke 2

At times this challenge may seem larger than life and the stress too much to deal with. Yet with the right approach, this year’s matriculants can perform to the best of their abilities.

Lowvelder asked pupils and educational expert for handy tips.


Hoërskool Bergvlam’s Jason Blockley plans how to divide study time over the examination period. Planning will make you feel more in control.

Location, location, location

Dr John Grohol, a psychiatrist and author of 10 Highly effective study habits, said pupils should study somewhere conducive to their concentration.

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Distractions like electronic devices should be removed from the study area. He recommends quiet spaces.

Past papers

Completing exam papers from previous years brings a familiarity to the format of the final exam.
While doing so, time yourself and ensure that you have a proper understanding of the time allocated per question.

The 50/10 rule

When the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently published study tips, it emphasised the importance of the 50/10 rule: Studying in one-hour blocks divided into 50 minutes of study with a 10-minute break.

Mother Nature’s concentration cocktails

Dr Arien van der Merwe, a medical doctor, believes in the medicinal power of natural products like vitamins and herbs. During a recent seminar in Mbombela, she stated that the right supplements can increase concentration and assist in relieving stress.

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Stock up on vitamin B and natural supplements like the yeast variety saccharomyces cerevisiae. Healthy eating is also important and students should stay hydrated. Incorporate the so-called nine memory superfoods into your diet during exams. They are blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flaxseed and nuts.


Don’t try to be perfect

“Anxiety affects students’ ability to concentrate,” says Laerskool Laeveld’s remedial teacher, Ms Sarie Eksteen.
Psychologist Dr Gillian Mooney, the teaching and learning manager at The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa’s largest private higher education provider, agrees. “It’s good to have goals, but these need to be realistic. If you believe that anything less than 100 per cent means you have failed, you are creating unnecessary stress for yourself,” she says.
Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that comparing oneself to others reduces your effectivity. Your pace of studying, what you can remember off the top of your head and what your answer to any question was, is your business.

Think about it: You’ve been preparing for this for 12 years. Olympic champions prepare full-time for eight years and win medals. You’ll do just fine.

In the examination hall

Jason gets adequate sleep before an exam and wakes up early to revise on the day of his exam.

Arrive early

If the rules allow for it, take a bottle of water with you. “Have your stationery ready. Upon receiving your paper, read each question slowly and ensure that you know exactly what is expected of you,” Hoërskool Bergvlam’s school psychologist, Ms Chrizanne van Wyk adds.
Read every word attentively. “If you do not know the answer to a question, relax. Do the easier questions first,” she says.
“Do not become anxious if you strike a blank. Rather, sit back and redirect your thoughts. Think of something pleasant.”

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