Despite matrics not being able to officially write the mid-year exam, they can with the right approach turn this negative into a positive. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.
Despite matrics not being able to officially write the mid-year exam, they can with the right approach turn this negative into a positive. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

Four ways to make the best of extra matric teaching time

By MaryAnne Isaac Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

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The matric mid-year exams have traditionally helped pupils get in the right frame of mind for the final exams, and has equipped many pupils with an idea of what to expect.

However this year, the Department of Basic Education announced that the matric mid-year exams will once again fall away due to the pandemic to allow for additional teaching time.

The department believes this allows schools to focus on completing the whole curriculum.

Several education experts believe that despite matrics not being able to officially write the mid-year exam, they can with the right approach turn this negative into a positive and use the extra time to their advantage.

Nola Payne, head of faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, says that like the class of 2020, the class of 2021 are again facing the most important year of their school careers under very difficult and unusual circumstances.

“Many Grade 12s would have lost as much as 60% of teaching time this year, on top of the fact that they didn’t finish last year’s curriculum. Additionally, they also had to sacrifice holiday time to make up for lost teaching days. All things considered, it is clear that this year’s matrics are once again under a lot of strain, and being called upon to perform to the best of their ability under rather difficult circumstances.

Here are four simple ways to make the best of your extra matric teaching time.

1. Get as much as you can from your classes

Absorb as much as possible from your classes, and be sure to do all you can to grasp key concepts. If you don’t understand a section or question in class, keep asking for clarity until you do. If you are studying at home and you find there is something you don’t understand, keep a list of questions to ask your teachers when you are back in class.

Don’t just move on to the next thing and think you are going to come back to challenging work later – steadfastly build on your knowledge so that you can continue with confidence.

2. Take care of your mental and emotional well-being

If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, recognise and acknowledge this fact, and reach out to a trusted adult for support and assistance. Try to look after your physical wellbeing as much as possible, by getting enough sleep, fresh air, and exercise if you are up to it. When things get too much, take a timeout, practise deep breathing, and return to the task at hand when you are feeling better.

3. Make learning fun

Payne says that even though most matrics won’t be writing their mid-year exams, you can still set up your own mock exams – alone or with friends.

“Make a fun activity of it, by getting past exam papers from your school library, your teacher or from the Department of Education’s website, and simulate an exam environment. Sit down with your clock and stationery, and pretend you are in fact writing an exam within the allotted time in a structured exam hall.

“This will give you a good framework from which to proceed with your learning, because you’ll be able to see whether you need to work faster, get a feel for the different formats of questions, and also insight into which work requires additional attention. After completing the paper, you and your study partners can go over the questions together, which is an additional learning opportunity.”

4. Keep the end goal in mind

“Things are tough right now, and the circumstances are not ideal for performing at your best. However, by keeping the future in mind and connecting that to your daily efforts, you’ll be able to keep the momentum while building on the small victories of each day,” says Payne

Always remember what you are working towards. By doing your best every day, you’ll be able to finish your year to the best of your ability, which will open up opportunities for the future.

Start considering your options for next year, and remember that universities and private higher education institutions are aware of the continuing difficulties facing this year’s matrics.

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