Preparing for matric exams can be incredibly stressful, add in a global pandemic and you’ve got a whole new kettle of fish! 2020 has been nothing short of wild, and the current matric cohort is going to need smart support and ideas to keep a cool head as they tackle their studies and journey through this final stage of school life.
The goood news is that, despite the uncertainty, you can still take charge of your own life. “There is no doubt that healthy, emotional well-being is important for positive functioning in life, including academic success,” says Counselling Psychologist, Lauren Martin, panelist at an upcoming SACAP (South African College of Applied Psychology) webinar on matric sucess. “However, healthy, emotional well-being does not mean we live a life free of experiencing discomforts or unpleasant emotions. Rather, we learn that academic success can be achieved while experiencing challenging states and circumstances. So, yes the world has flipped upside down. But you can still take control of your future, and matrics can start right now to prepare themselves emotionally, physically and mentally to get through their exams.”
Being in the right frame of mind is important, but study hacks can also help you get through matric exams. The trick is not to look for a silver bullet. Rather, the experts recommend a mixed bag of study hacks including exercise, study strategies, healthy eating, as well as emotional well-being as tools to boost performance. Here 4 study hacks to get you through Matric finals:
1. Put together a study plan
Esmarie Cilliers, a Registered Counsellor in private practice with a special interest in Developmental Psychology and Personal Growth points out: “Studying for success is not a question of luck or talent alone. Researchers agree that students who have a strategy or a plan for how they are going to study, achieve the best outcomes. Students who follow a plan and scientific study methods learn more easily, retain information for longer periods of time, and save themselves hours of study time which enables them to have more balance in their lives.”
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2. Embrace the challenge
This is indeed a challenging time but it’s also the perfect time to seize the day and learn from the challenges. The psychological adaptions we have all had to make in response to Covid-19 provide a phenomenal life lesson in resilience. During this time, Matrics can embrace their growing independence and choose to view this incredibly challenging time as an opportunity to improve self-discipline, time management and study skills.
3. Make healthy choices
Of course, mental toughness and emotional resilience do not stand on their own. We’re much more likely to find the courage and spirit we need if we are also caring for ourselves physically. Sufficient sleep, supportive nutrition and being physically active every day too often fall by the wayside when study pressures mount.
“How we eat directly affects our energy levels and concentration,” explains Nathalie Mat, a clinical dietitian with a special interest in child and adolescent nutrition. Fuelling your brain well will help you excel and eating balanced meals and snacks with a variety of foods results in good blood sugar control, which will in turn help you focus for longer. “Quick fixes like coffee and energy drinks may promise a mental boost but are not ideal sources of nutrition and do not fuel our brains, says Mat. “High caffeine intake can affect sleep which further decreases concentration and learning.”
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4. Stay active
One of the easiest traps to fall into over an extended study period is sitting still for hours on end. While some may think long hours at a desk is evidence of discipline and virtue, it is actually counter-productive to learning. Our blood carries the nutrients, hormones and oxygen that supply our brain and body. With slow circulation and low volumes flowing throughout the body while we sit for extended periods, our brain and body do not function optimally.
Engaging in a physical activity is the best way to keep your brain sharp and stay energised for long study sessions. Even going for a quick 10-minute walk is enough to boost brain activity and creativity. Physical activity increases our heart rate, creating an environment where more blood is flowing to the brain and more oxygen and nutrients are reaching the brain. This results in a brain and body that can function at a much more optimal level.
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