Prelims form part of the portfolio or SBA (School-based Assessments) mark worth 25% of your final year average. This may sound like a small portion, but a fail in one of your preliminary exams could be the difference between qualifying for that university degree and just about missing it. You’ve probably heard this a million times from your teachers and parents, so we’ll spare you the lecture. What we will do, is give you a few practical steps to take before taking your prelims.

Set goals

After four years of high school, you’re probably aware of your strengths, capabilities and weaknesses. Set targets for your prelim results based on this knowledge as well as your current portfolio marks. That way, your goals are realistic and attainable, but also in line with your targets for the year.

Develop a healthy routine

Healthy eating, exercise and sleep are all essential parts of a good routine that will yield positive results in the long run. Getting enough rest and eating well will ensure that you’re physically prepared for the mentally demanding exam season, and exercise is a good way to deal with that niggling stress and anxiety that are so common around this time.

Plan, prepare, plan some more

The key to preventing stress and anxiety during the exam period is to start studying well in advance. Daily or weekly revision of your notes throughout the term can make all the difference since you won’t be seeing certain concepts for the first time just before the exam. Also use this time to create an efficient filing system, colour coded notes and/or flashcards to help you understand important and complex topics. Don’t be tempted to cram the night before as this just leads to panic and stress as well as the risk of ‘blanking out’ during the exam.

Get help

Prelims are a kind of preview of what you can expect during finals, and so you should use them to soak up as much information as possible. Ask questions in the revision classes your teachers will have, go to extra lessons if you can, and speak to your peers about work that you may find difficult. There are also a lot of online sites and forums that you can use to help you with certain tricky topics.

Adjust your attitude

Believe it or not, your attitude towards these exams plays a huge role in determining how well you’ll do. Do your best to surround yourself with positive thoughts and affirmations, knowing that you will be fine as long as you put in the work. There may be certain circumstances outside of your control that can affect you mentally and emotionally, but you owe it to yourself to focus on the things you do have power over - like your grades.

Use past papers

Using past examination papers in your study routine really helps prepare you for the different types of questions that may show up in your exam. Timing yourself while doing the past papers is extremely helpful as you will be able to measure your progress and ability to complete work in the allocated time. This website contains past papers and study material that you may find useful when prepping for prelims.

Preliminary exams are an important part of your matric year because they aren’t just a preview of your finals, but they also contribute a significant chunk of your final mark. It is possible to cruise through the exams with an attitude fix, a great routine and making sure you’re not caught unprepared.

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