This month, hundreds of thousands of young South Africans will write the 2017 National Senior Certificate examinations as the swan song to their school education.

For some, it comes as a relief and a release into exciting new beginnings; while others are filled with dread at the uncertainty that lies ahead.

There are those feeling like they’re standing on a knife-edge, perhaps because they are not sure they will pass or because they are not sure they will pass well enough to qualify for what they want to do next.

This final stage of the Matric year is so much more than a test of knowledge and intellectual ability; it is also a particular trial of emotional intelligence, courage and resilience.

Jogini Packery, Counselling Psychologist and Head of Student Services at SACAP (the South African College of Applied Psychology) has a few vital tips for Matrics to help them put the best foot forward during this change-of-life experience:

Plan for your success

“It’s important to have the clear intention to achieve your Matric goals, whether that’s a pass or a pass with university exemption; a ‘B’ in your favourite subject or as many distinctions as you can get. Define what you want to achieve through this experience as clearly as you can.”

Optimise on your strengths

“Once you have your goals defined, spend some time reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses before you draw up a study schedule that will help you achieve your goals. You want to have strategies in place that support your overall well-being so that physically, mentally and emotionally you’re as fit as can be to achieve your Matric goals.”

Schedule your downtime

“Your study plan should include far more than just your study hours. It needs to include some time for physical activity, for relaxation and for socialising. Identify your peak times of the day when you are most alert and productive. Schedule your toughest study tasks during your peak times. Allocate social media time, gaming, TV-watching, walks, sports and time spent with friends during your lower energy times and let relaxing every now and then refresh your mind and body.”

Commit to balance

“Yes, writing Matric exams are stressful and arduous, but you can still maintain your balance. Pay attention to eating well, getting regular exercise and staying connected to friends and family. Going over the top means tipping overboard – off balance and unable to put a best foot forward.

You want to do your best, and that’s only possible from a point of balance. Place a high value on looking after yourself while your sights are set on your goals.”

Develop your vision for your future

“Matric exams are not just a set of final school tests to pass through. The stakes feel high because you are having a vital life-stage experience. It is very exciting! The way that you respond to this challenge of matriculating can help to shape a future you really want. Thinking a lot about who you are, what you are good at and what you want from your life cuts through the uncertainty of what is ahead for you.”

Think about the ways that you can create change

“You are in the process of emerging as an adult into the fastest-changing world humans have ever known. The greatest demand on Earth at this time is change. Every person has the power to be a change-maker.”

For any matriculant who believes they have the power to create change and is interested in the field of psychology and counselling, SACAP offers a wide range of qualifications including (Higher Certificate, Diploma, BAppSocSci, BPsych, BsocSci Honours and BPsych Equivalent) and a one-of-a-kind approach to learning: academic rigour and applied skills.

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