Grade 11s who are serious about bringing their best game to their matric finals next year should, like performance athletes, start their preparation now so that they enter the home straight in pole position when 2020 arrives, an education expert says.
“The temptation will be there to put off thinking about Grade 12 until next year, but Grade 11s have the most powerful weapon in their arsenal right now – that of time,” says Natasha Madhav, senior head of programme: faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education.
“As a Grade 11 learner, you need to understand how competitive the landscape will be after school, and that it is not in your best interest to wait until exam prep starts next year to start exercising your academic muscles. You have to train, prepare and lay the groundwork now, so that you can build on your performance next year, rather than try and get the basics in place while the clock is ticking,” she says.
Madhav says learners must also approach each assessment this year as if it is going to be the deciding one, and learn from and correct their approach when problems are identified.
“Doing well now could also pay off pre-emptively, as many higher education institutions will allow provisional placement based on your Grade 11 marks, which will dramatically lift the pressure next year,” she says.
Draft a two year planning overview
Senior learners should look at their last two years of school holistically, rather than as two distinct years, Madhav says.
“Take some time to draft a two-year global overview of key dates that will arise this year and next,” she advises, adding that this calendar will include actual or estimated dates for all assignments, tests and exams.
“You may think you have a lot of time ahead of you, but when drafting this calendar, you’ll quickly see the reality of how demanding and time-intensive these next two years will be. The good news accompanying the realisation of the challenge ahead, is that you can now accurately determine how much time you’ll have to prepare for each assessment, and not be tempted to procrastinate.”
Use any ‘downtime’ wisely to make life easier down the line
While there won’t be much free time going around in the run-up to matric, Grade 11s should use any time they do have on their hands wisely.
“So we are not saying you should be sitting in front of your books 24/7,” says Madhav. “But when you do have time to spare, say during the holidays or weekends, do a little bit every day to strengthen your actual ability to handle the workload which will progressively increase not only this year and next, but also when you enter higher education.”
Madhav says learners can use the time they have to watch YouTube videos of cool study hacks, different ways of learning and revising, learning to touch type or even doing some volunteer or internship work.
“These are all fun activities which, when compounded, can make a notable difference to your academic performance as well as the strength of your study or work applications in relation to those of your peers.
“Now is a great time to make a commitment to lifelong learning, and vowing to yourself to do something every day that makes you stronger, wiser and more resilient. These are skills that you need to craft and hone on an ongoing basis, as you can’t summon them out of the blue when needed.”
Understand your subject choices and their impact on post-school options
Madhav advises Grade 11s to take some time to look closely at what they intend to do after school, and particularly to investigate their options broadly and thoroughly, and then ensure that the subjects will allow them to pursue their chosen path.
“There are a number of reasons why you should consider where you are now compared to where you were when you first decided on your current subjects, as well as where you are going to go in future,” says Madhav.
“Maybe when you made your choice you did so based on the idea that you might go into communication or design. Perhaps now you are more inclined to pursue a career in accounting or law. Whatever it is, ensure that your subject choices are still aligned to your current vision for your future, and the entry requirements at your higher education institution of choice.”
She says where students see they are going to fall short of entry requirements based on their subject selection, they could consider taking an additional subject, or should circumstances allow, change subjects – although this should not be done without serious consideration of consequences and discussion with the school.
But apart from ensuring you are on the right path, the exercise of considering how your subjects support further study has the added benefit of reminding you of how your subjects will enable you to realise your dreams after school.
“This is likely to provide you with fresh motivation to tackle even those ones you’ve been finding dreary or challenging,” says Madhav, “and help you not only understand your work, but also get to grips with it in such a way that you can apply what you’ve learned.”
Madhav says that next year, when learners enter their final year of school, it will no longer only be about the amount of time they spend in front of their books, but also about the quality of that time.
“You are in a position right now to influence the quality of that time, and effectively the trajectory of your post-school education and career. So use this time wisely to get in the right frame of mind so that you will be able to perform to the very best of your ability next year and beyond.”