Top achievers' advice for acing matric
Tips on making your final year a success
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As matric celebrations die down and the Class of 2016 start their last year of school, taking a little time to bed down a solid routine can mean the difference between failure and success, an education expert says.

“These past weeks have seen many celebrations and accolades afforded to the top matriculants of 2015. When considering what made them get to the top, there is one thing that really stands out – routine,” says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education institution.

“Almost without exception, these high achievers, regardless of their backgrounds, credited being organised and focused on their goals as being key to their success,” she says.

Payne says both this year’s matrics as well as students preparing to enter higher education for the first time can make their lives much easier, and their studies more successful, if they set in place a solid structure to support them in the coming year.

“Now is the ideal time for them to make resolutions about committing to their future success and structuring their learning,” she says.

Payne says the following steps will assist learners and students to do their very best in the coming year:

  1. The first step to being organised is identifying your goals for the year, she says.

 “These goals should be realistic and achievable. It’s a good idea to write down your goals and display them where you can see them every day. This reminder of your goals will become your mantra for the year. Never lose focus of your goals, as they will drive and motivate you through the tough times.”

   2. Ensure you have a dedicated study area with good lighting.

 “A desk or table in a quiet room or corner is preferable if possible. You will require some stationery as well. A variety of pens, highlighters and notepads will be sufficient. Studying on your bed or on the couch is not conducive for a productive study session. You will slouch, your notes will be difficult to manage and you will inevitably become lethargic and sleepy.

 “If you do not have access to a dedicated space, investigate the options at your institution as well as public libraries. Search for and identify a space that works for you, and schedule your study times around opening and closing times.”

  1. Realistically consider your weekly schedule.

 “If you have certain days when you are committed to part-time work, sport, a cultural activity or a regular event such as a weekly dinner with a friend, then work these into your schedule,” says Payne.

 “Do not eliminate all outside interests and events as this will make you bored and demotivated. It’s important to maintain life-balance and schedule outside interests into your learning plan. However be picky about what you allow into your valuable schedule and what not. Nightly visits to the pub, for instance, will not help you at all.”

  1. Begin early in the academic year with your schedule and maintain the pace.

 “Each day after class, make summaries of what was covered in class. These will become the core of your study notes closer to the exams. Preparing for each class beforehand can contribute significantly to being successful. That way you’re able to ask your teacher or lecturer pertinent questions and further embed the knowledge in your memory.

 “Make it a routine. Don’t think about whether you will or won’t do it. Like brushing your teeth, daily revision is something that just will be done – no ifs, buts or maybes.”

  1. Keep a logical filing system for your study notes. Consider creating individual files/folders for each subject. Whether these are electronic or physical files it is important to maintain order and structure. 

“Start your year as you hope to finish, and keep focused. This is a very important year, and you will have plenty of time to relax at the end of it. Many of the top matric achievers have spoken about their determination and sacrifice, which if you follow in their footsteps, will make this the year that sets you up for a bright future.

“These star matrics gave up weekends, holidays and evenings to achieve their goals and in many instances reap the rewards of bursaries for their chosen field of study. 

“Know that your discipline and dedication will pay off at the end of the year, when your excellent results enable you to choose your preferred course of study and career path.”

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