Students studying for ‘big’ exams – especially Matric – get all kinds of advice from parents, teachers, friends, the Internet about just how they should go about studying in order to achieve the best possible results. And the one thing they often notice is that a lot of the advice they hear, see and read is actually pretty conflicting.
The fact is that there really is no perfect ‘one size fits all’ study plan; every student is different, learns differently and therefore needs to study in a slightly different way. There are however some basic dos and don’ts of studying that any Matric student can benefit from understanding. Here are some of the most important:
Do: Start studying early enough – Matric exams are not surprise tests and students do have plenty of notice between receiving their exam schedules and the actual testing days themselves. Study and revising should begin at least several weeks in advance of the ‘big event’ to be most effective as doing so will allow you to break it up into manageable sessions that will be far more effective than a week’s worth of ‘last minute’ cramming.
Don’t: Just stick to one study ‘type’ – There is more to an effective Matric study plan than simply reading over your course textbooks again and again. Although for some there is something to be said for this kind of ‘rote’ learning it should be supplemented with other tactics, such as note reviews and the use of past papers.
Do: Seek out past papers to work on – There is a lot to be said for, and gained by, working your way through past papers. It’s less about learning new material than it is about discovering what you do and don’t know at this point, something that will allow you to focus your energies, and study time, just where it is really needed.
Don’t: Create a study plan that is unreasonable and manageable – Planning marathon study sessions for every day leading up to Matric exams is rarely the best plan. Study sessions should be broken up into manageable chunks. Planning study sessions that last around 45- to 60- minute study blocks with 10 to 15-minute breaks between each will be far more effective and no more than two or three of these per weekday evening
Do: Get enough sleep every day -It is not just the night before the exam that is the time to get a really good night’s sleep, it’s every night in the run up to the tests. Brain fatigue is cumulative and if it is always trying to fight the effects of a lack of proper sleep it will not be at its most efficient during study sessions.
Don’t: Skip breakfast on test day – Many students claim that they are too nervous to eat on the morning of a big test and therefore leave home without a proper breakfast. Bad idea. Your body and brain really does need the energy that a decent morning meal provides in order to function properly.
If you really can’t face solid food try a fruit smoothie instead. By blending together a pot of yogurt, a couple of pieces of fruit and, if you have them, a handful of nutrient rich flax seeds you’ll still get a nice energy giving boost without the queasy feeling.