Exam Prep Advice and Past Papers

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Are you feeling anxious about the workload you might get this year? Many Matric students are worried that they won’t be able to learn all their work in time.

I say nothing is impossible. You made it this far, right?

I remember when I was in Matric, I started studying from the beginning of the year. I know what you’re thinking… Where’s the fun in that? The truth is, the more you study, the easier your exams will be (including your final exam), and the more fun you can have after you have passed Matric!

I studied every single week and guess what? I passed every single subject, all four terms!

Here is my exam prep advice to get you started this year. It worked for me, so I hope it works for you too.

Create a study timetable and get into a routine (for the entire year)

Set up a study schedule for yourself. Use at least two days in the week for studying. If you have other commitments like sport, art or a casual job, work this into your study schedule as well.

If your timetable only has boring stuff in it, you will probably drop it all together. By including the things you like doing, you will stick to your routine.

Here is a mock-up study timetable to give you an idea of how you can plan your week:

  • Mondays – Art class (14:30 – 16:30)
  • Tuesdays - Study (15:00 - 18:00) 
  • Wednesday - Sport (14:30 – 17:00)
  • Thursday - Study (15:00 - 18:00)
  • Friday - Go out with friends (17:00 – 20:30)
  • Saturday - Working (casual job) (09:00 – 15:00)
  • Sunday - Rest/Family time

*Exam study timetable

Remember that the above study timetable and your timetable for exams will look completely different. During exams, sport and extracurricular activities fall away for a few weeks, so you will have extra time preparing for your exams.

Study every day, but leave room for breaks and relaxation. It will help you focus better and ease stress.

Use flow charts and diagrams to help remember some of your work

Most of us love to doodle, right? I used to draw tons of little stick figures or oddly shaped things. It kept me busy and somehow helped me focus. I also used this for studying.

Whenever I had to learn a process, sequence of events or a list of things, I drew it out in a flow chart or diagram.

Here is how you can create your own study flow charts:

  • Study the entire chapter or topic.
  • Draw a flow chart
  • Write down all the key points or keywords of what you have learned on the flow chart
  • On a new piece of paper, explain each key point or keyword you have on your flow chart.
  • Highlight the ones you cannot answer in full and study it again.
  • Next time you study the flowchart, try to explain all the topics by just looking at the keyword.

When you prepare for the exams, use your flow charts. The keywords will trigger your brain and you will be able to remember large chunks of information.

Here is an example of a flow chart that I used for Biology when I was in school. The keyword is ‘homeostasis’ and next to the keyword I wrote down what it is. After studying my chart for a while, I could answer what homeostasis was just by looking at the keyword:

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Use old exam papers when you study

Old exam papers are great for revision. I used past exam papers to prepare for all my exams.

It gives you an idea of what type of questions will be asked, and what you already know. It also gives you the opportunity to time yourself, and get used to the time given to complete a paper, so you don’t run out of time during your exams.

Download past exam papers  

Pay attention in class and take notes, you might learn a lot!

One of the things I picked up in Matric was when the teacher said, “This is important for the exam”, it really was. Whenever my teachers dropped a hint, I wrote it down immediately and made sure that I studied that section for the exams. 

Get yourself a notebook and use it in every class. Whenever the teacher starts mentioning the exams, take notes. They will most likely mention chapters, headings or page numbers of work that are important for the exams.

Bonus exam prep advice - Get the most out of your Matric year

I hope that my exam prep advice was helpful. Get your notebook ready, set up your study timetable and get studying!

Here are a few bonus tips on how you can get the most out of your Matric year and pass your exams:

  • Do a little work every day - Do your homework, make summaries and take notes.
  • Test yourself weekly - Use your study notes and test yourself. This can become part of your study routine.
  • Take breaks in-between your studies - It will refresh your brain and help you remember more.
  • Listen when your teachers speak in class. - They give many hints and tips on what to study for the exams.
  • Use past exam papers to study – You can get them for free!
  • Don’t wait until you feel motivated – It might seem difficult initially, but you will get into the habit quite quickly.  
  • Eat healthy and get enough sleep.
  • Make time to have fun with your friends and family.

 Remember, the more you study, the easier your exams will be. 

 Keep studying!

 Desi Signature5

the Distance Learning Diva

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