The clock is ticking for an estimated 1.1 million Matrics from the Class of 2020, who will sit for their final exams in two months' time after arguably the most challenging year they would have faced during their school careers.
With uncertainty still lingering about much of what is to come, these students now have to ensure they get in the right frame of mind to perform to the best of their ability despite the unprecedented circumstances and novel logistical arrangements they will face, an education expert says.
"Learners must now take stock of where they are academically, and determine what ground still needs to be covered so that they are fully prepared," says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education institution.
"On top of this, they need to work through any concerns around the rest of the year, exam logistics, and their future plans so that they can put aside those issues causing anxiety and focus solely on their revision," he says.
Ntshinga says while this year's Matrics face additional stressors on top of the regular challenges associated with Matric finals, they should know that there are more additional resources than ever before to ensure they complete their final year of school as well as possible.
"Now is the time to assess your performance to date – possibly based on your preliminary exams if your school wrote them – and see how much ground you still need to cover before exams start. And very importantly, learners need to draw up a comprehensive study schedule and stick to it. Don't just get up every morning and wing it. You have to keep track every day to ensure you stay on schedule, and if you are not, you need to adapt your approach."
Ntshinga says Matrics need to come to terms with the fact that things will feel strange in the exam room, so that they are fully prepared and not distracted by the logistics, such as writing while wearing a mask.
"Taking control now for your own performance is the most powerful approach to take. And remember that there are many people and organisations out there from where you can obtain additional support if you need it. By claiming your focus, you can and will make a positive difference to your results," he says.
It is also worth remembering that the way learning happens now is the way it is likely to be for some time still.
"Even when going into higher education next year, there is likely to still be restrictions and safety precautions in place, so don't waste precious energy fretting about the unusual nature of things, and rather embrace the situation and hone your independent learning skills."
Ntshinga says learners can access additional help and resources quite easily in the following places:
WEBSITES OF PROVINCIAL AND NATIONAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENTS
"There are some excellent resources available in the public sector, including study and revision advice, past papers, exam dates and concept lists for specific subjects. Remember that it doesn't matter where you live, you can access the advice on the websites of other provincial departments as well."
HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
"Institutions such as The IIE's Varsity College, Rosebank College and IIE MSA have gone all out to ensure they provide additional assistance to Matrics, such as through bootcamps, subject revision, past paper provision and so forth. Contact an institution near you to hear about any additional Matric support they provide, or follow them on social media to receive regular updates and support."
GENERAL ONLINE RESOURCES
"There is a wealth of advice freely available on the internet that can help you with your studies. Just be sure to access information from a reputable and credible source."
Ntshinga says that while everyone must remain vigilant about the virus by maintaining the necessary social distancing and safety protocols, learners must push on with positivity and work toward the future.
"Everyone is aware of the unique challenges facing this year's Matrics, so it is important not to panic but rather to exert control within your sphere of influence – your own mindset. Even though the current circumstances are difficult, there is a wealth of support available, and even if you are not yet on track, you have enough time if you start right now to make a success of your final year."