Close to a million matric learners will start their final exams later this week. Online school and home education provider, Brainline, has stressed the importance of providing students with adequate support to cope with this mammoth task. Brainline Mentor, Liezel Bruwer, says these exams mark the culmination of an academic year like no other, with numerous unexpected challenges for the Class of 2020.
‘This group of students had to endure very different conditions than that of their predecessors such as adapting to social isolation, not being able to attend classes due to Covid-19 and having to complete a curriculum amidst of catching up with missed classes.
Many students had to deal with the added pressures of not being able to access information due to a lack of technology. Brainline students were fortunate enough to receive uninterrupted education; however, many others were not so lucky,’ she says.
Kick-off for the final exams is this week, for the Department of Basic Education, whilst matrics writing the Independent Examination Board (IEB) exams started a few weeks ago. Bruwer says the odds are stacked against the Class of 2020, and they need support now more than ever to cope with exam stress.
‘Exam stress often stems from the fear of failure; however, there are ways to cope with this kind of pressure. It is important that teachers, parents and the students themselves ensure that they are equipped to deal with the stress over the next few weeks,’ Bruwer explains.
She says it is imperative that students admit if they need help.
‘Let your trusted teacher, family member or friends know how if you’re struggling. This will enable them to offer you support, encouragement or a sympathetic ear. Ask for help and raise your concerns with your teacher, mentor or tutor. They have dealt with similar situations in the past and will know how to support you.’
Bruwer says it is essential to remember to nourish body and mind for optimal study success. She says poor nutrition can lead to trouble with sleeping, poor memory and difficulty solving problems.
‘Good food ideas include meat, fish, eggs, legumes and seeds for protein. Don’t forget about your fruits and veggies, which contain antioxidants. Avocados, nuts, olive oil and peanut butter, contain monosaturated fats which improve your memory. Cut back on the caffeine, even though it may cause you to feel refreshed and focused. Moderation is the key. Water, water and more water is the better idea! Our brains are approximately 73% water, and it is vital to keep your brain in tip-top shape.’
Bruwer says it is vital to get enough rest.
‘Ensure that you rest enough. Research has shown that sleeping enhances memory.”
When it comes to studying, it is important to work according to a plan.
‘If you write both the morning and afternoon sessions, you may prefer not to study at high intensity during the preceding evening. Use an evening such as this for reading your prescribed books, which may be less consuming. A study schedule should be flexible.
Bruwer says while students have their personal favourite study methods, some universal tips may be helpful.
‘Make sure that you have a clean and quiet workspace, with your books ready and close at hand. Take regular breaks and ask for help when needed! Remember to reward yourself when you achieve your study goals.’
During the lockdown and the final exams, Brainline has offered many support platforms to students.
‘We have hosted regular one-on-one sessions with students were they were able to ask questions, raise concerns or just use our platforms as a listening board for their frustrations over the unusual circumstances. As a mentor, my door was always open to students and parents alike who were struggling to cope with the current status quo. At Brainline, we know how important it is to support and encourage learners, especially our Grade 12’s who fighting for their futures.
Brainline’s students are part of the IEB exams and will write their final paper at the end of November. Brainline is IEB recognised, which means that learners follow the South African National Curriculum (similar to the curriculum offered in South African schools) resulting in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) upon successful completion of their matric exams.