Desi’s Matric Survival Guide


Quote of the weeks


Congratulations on making it to Matric! You’ve reached the last stretch of your schooling journey. I remember feeling excited and nervous when I was in Matric, and that’s why I created ‘Desi’s Matric Survival Guide’. It helped me make it through my Matric year without stressing too much – so I’m certain it will help you too!

Here we go!

 Step 1: Figure Out Your Learning Style

Did you know that we all learn differently? What helps one person remember important concepts from their textbooks, doesn’t always help another person. To help myself study, I read up on learning styles. It helped me figure out what type of student I am, and how I learn.

The learning styles are visual (seeing), auditory (listening) and kinaesthetic (doing or hands-on). Finding out which one you are, will make studying so much easier. I’ve written down a short description and some practical study tips for each learning style:

Visual (Seeing)


You learn best by observing things (seeing things). You remember things better when they are in bold colours, mind-maps or even demonstrated in pictures.

Study Tips

  • Underline/ highlight important sections of your notes/ textbook in different, bright colours
  • Draw pictures instead of writing words
  • Use mind maps to remember important concepts
  • Pay attention when the teacher writes on the board – visualise (form a picture of) the important ideas your teacher is writing down 

Auditory (Listening)


You remeber best by listening. You generally remember what the teacher says in class, conversations, and even when music is added to words, like song lyrics.

Study Tips

  • Listen attentively in class
  • Record yourself with your phone when you study – i.e. read your work out loud, record it on your phone, and listen to it later
  • Make up rhymes, or make up songs to remember main points/ideas
  • Talk about your work with friends - see how many things you can remember!

Kinaesthetic (Doing or hand-on)


You learn best when you are moving, doing something, or practically acting out important things you need to remember.

Study Tips

  • Play with something like a stress ball while studying
  • Walk around in your room/or study area. You may want to repeat important information while doing this, or listen to a recording of yourself reading your study material.
  • Act out main points or a series of ideas– try physically doing what you are reading.
  • If you have subjects that are more technical, learn all the terms and other important information while practically doing it

Once you’ve figure out how you study there are a few more things you can do to help you study and survive your Matric year:

Step 2: Follow My (Desi’s) Top 10 Matric Survival Tips

I always say that what you do every day influences the goal you want to achieve – I even made that my quote of the week! So, if you want to pass Matric, you need to do a few things every day to reach your goal. Plus, following these tips will help you stress less and enjoy your Matric year!

I’ve divided my Top 10 Tips into three main sections: Healthy Lifestyle, Daily Routine, and Exam Time.

Healthy Lifestyle

1.       Healthy eating

Eat regular and balanced meals. It makes a huge difference in how much energy you have and how well your brain functions. Stay away from fast food, sugary drinks and snacks as much as you can. These foods actually steal your energy! Try to include protein, vegetables and fruit into your diet – these food groups add nutrients to your body which are essential for brain function and consistent energy levels (all very important for remembering information!).

2.       Regular exercise

Go for a walk around your neighbourhood, or find some indoor exercises you can do at home. I like to run on the spot for a few minutes, do some push-ups and sit-ups. This gets the blood flowing, clears your mind, alleviates stress and helps you focus. You may not know this, but fitness experts claim that exercise gives you more energy in the long term!

3.      Get enough sleep

Our bodies and our brains need rest. Experts recommend 6 – 8 hours’ sleep a night. I always try to sleep for at least 8! Experts also say that sleep helps our brains form long term memories, which means that it will help you remember what you’ve studied.

After an intense study session, I always dream about what I’d studied that day! Amazing how the brains work!

Daily Routine

4.      Don’t miss school

Seriously, unless you have a really good reason, you shouldn’t miss school. Attend your classes, ask your teachers questions, and participate in class discussions. This really helps you to gain a good understanding of the important ideas/points you’ll need to know for exams- and, believe it or not, it is also a form of studying.

5.       Do something everyday

Spend some time after school to go through the work that was discussed that day. Read through the parts in your textbook you covered that day, and afterward try to remember the most important facts. By doing something every day you will get a lot of studying done before exam time, which makes your workload seem manageable and your exams a lot less stressful.

Also remember that eating healthy food, exercising and getting enough sleep are also things you need to do every day – all of these factors influence your exam performance and how stressed you are.

6.       Do all homework and projects

If you’ve been assigned homework or a project – do it! Some will count for your final marks and some won’t. It doesn’t matter; every bit of work you do will help you better understand subject material as well as remember that information for your exams.

Exam Time

7.       Prioritise and plan

Before you begin studying, you need to determine what you need to do first. You should list your exams in the order of importance - i.e. the first exam will be the most important. Then you need determine which are the most important ideas/points in your study material you should focus on – learn the important things first! Many times your teachers will point out which parts of your subject material you need to focus on (That’s another good reason not to miss classes!).

8.       Set up a study timetable that you follow in exam time

After you’ve determine what is most important you can set up your study timetable! You will have some time before exams and in between exams to study. Set up a timetable for each day and follow it!

Here’s an example:

07h00 – wake up and have breakfast

07h00 – get dressed

08h00 – get everything ready to study – pens, papers, your textbook and notes.

08h30 – begin studying for Maths  

09h15 – take a break

09h30 – continue studying for Maths

If you are in an exam period that allows you the entire day to study, schedule your time to around dinner time and then schedule time with family and relaxation.

You can set up a schedule similar to this one during school terms. Your schedule will then start after school until bedtime.

9.       Work through old exam papers

The Department of Education posts old Matric papers on their website. You can download and print them so that you can practice answering the questions, get use to the type of questions that may be asked and see which concepts you need to pay more attention to.

Follow this link: 

Old Exam Papers - Department of Basic Education

10.   Don’t let worry about the test/exam you’ve just written interfere with preparing for your next one

This is so important. Sometimes we worry so much about what we’ve done and can no longer change that we aren’t able to do the next thing (Hint: This is something that is true for after-school studies and many other parts of life too).

Once you’ve written your test or exam, take a little bit of time to assess how your test/ exam went, where you can improve, and how you will improve. Take this knowledge and apply to the next time you have to write that subject.

E.g. If you wrote English and you struggled with the grammar part, write down exactly which parts of grammar you struggled with and pay extra attention to those parts before your next English test or exam.

After you’ve done that, forget about it, and move your focus on to the next test or exam you are writing.

Bonus Tip:

Remember to schedule time for socialising and relaxing! You need to unwind without forgetting about your other responsibilities! The sooner you begin studying the easier it will be. Little bits each day make a huge difference!


Lastly, enjoy the last year of your school career!

Desi Signature3

the Distance Learning Diva


Disclaimer:  Martin and Desi are fictional characters created by College SA for educational purposes.