Dear Class of 2021
I truly admire all of you. At least one whole year of online learning during a global pandemic, and you guys are still standing. But, as much as I hate to even write it, you guys are not done yet. Now comes the most stressful time of the year. As a member of the Class of 2019, I have come with some advice. I will try my best not to make this one of those painfully optimistic and sticky, clichéd advisory columns; please bear with me.
Om Te Beklemtoon Is Truly Your Best Friend
For those of you writing Afrikaans First Additional Language and fear the poetry section, Om Te Beklemtoon will definitely come in handy. At least one question will ask you what [insert vague poetic device here] does for the poem.
To add, the Afrikaans First Additional Language Paper 1 is much easier than your teachers make it out to be. A couple of past papers will definitely put you on the right track.
2. Size Does Matter When It Comes to English Home Language Paper 1
The English love words. You can see this with North and South, the novel born of hell’s fire. 450 pages for, like, three events? Please. Satiate this desire by writing as much as you can for your comprehension and poetry answers. More is better and negative marking is not applied. If you can afford the time, write whatever you can link to the questions; this is especially important for your poetry answers.
I apologise, but I honestly cannot help you here. How I even passed is a surprise to me. I can only recommend what every math teacher recommends; past papers. If you cannot find past papers, visit the Saint Stithians school home page for the greatest anthology of both IEB and NSC past papers.
4. Intellectual Procrastination for Foreign Second Additional Language Students (French and German, specifically)
Vocab is definitely the winning factor in your essays, especially if you are a French student and need to check that Je ne sais quoi section of the rubric. This is where films really come in handy. Suppose you have time to squeeze in a movie or episode into your study break or before going to bed. In that case, I recommend watching a movie in the language you are studying with the subtitles of said language; This is what I like to call Intellectual Procrastination. It will help expand your vocabulary and introduce you to idioms or sayings that you can just insert into your essays for extra marks.
Here are some of my recommendations:
French films on Netflix: Jour J, Je Ne Suis Pas un Homme Facile
French series on Netflix: Lupin, Hook-Up Plan, Dix Pour Cent
German Series and Films: How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast), Der Geilste Tag, Fack Ju Goethe, Türkisch für Anfänger, Prey
5. All-Nighters as a Last Resort
I would like to tell you to get enough sunshine, hydrate regularly, eat five fruits and vegetables and get at least 8 hours of sleep every day. If this is possible, please do. However, not only would me saying this make me a hypocrite, but it also sets unrealistic expectations. If you are unable to, do not worry. But, I do not recommend any all-nighters. At this point in time, you are stressed enough, and you need at least six hours where your brain can rest. Sleep and at least two meals a day are vital in propelling yourself forward during this difficult time.
6. Do Not Talk About Exams Before or After the Exam
Everyone hates that one person who interrogates you after the exam. While they ask you what you got for Section Three, Question Five, all you want to do is take a nap or eat some junk food. The bane of exam season, however, are the people frantically posing questions, or answering these questions, minutes before the exam hall doors open. Please, avoid these people at all costs. Nothing is more overwhelming than hearing some person (who got 40% for their last math prelim) explaining circle geometry (incorrectly) to a small crowd half an hour before the exam begins. Everyone loses. Also, I recommend not studying anymore on the day of your exam, especially if it is in the morning. This can lead to confusion, which can induce more stress and panic. Avoid people talking about the exam before and after and do not study the day of.
7. Focus on What You Are Lacking, Rather Than What You Are Already Doing
In essence, zero in on what you need to improve. If you have amazing essay skills, but you are unable to memorise dates, rather focus on learning those dates. But this goes further than just study priorities. If you are good at a subject, but need time to study, do not get a tutor. Instead, make sure you have set hours to revise said subject. Exam stress confuses students and blurs the lines between want and need. Focus on identifying that which you need and attempt to achieve that.
I wish you all the best of luck for your exams. Although these exams are important, they are only important for getting into university. Then again, not everyone even needs to go to university. This is just a brief momentary lapse in the grand scheme of things. Nobody cares about who was head-boy and who got how many distinctions. I hope this eases some of the stress (it should, unless you peaked in high school. Then, I’m sorry for you).
This horrible year is almost over.
written by Ashley Allard
cover art from MTV's Daria (1997)