2021 Matric Exams reveal a deepening divide and insufficient exam specific preparation

Take a moment to ponder the following:

“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.” – Anonymous

The Answer Series (often referred to as ‘TAS’) has been empowering high school learners since 1975. We have but one goal in mind: To impart the gift of confidence with our best-selling study guides, and hereby making a significant contribution to fueling the spirit of education in SA!

In this year’s episode of Subject Scoop, TAS CEO and Podcast Host, George Eadie, chatted to three subject specialists in Maths (Jenny Campbell), Life Sciences (Mariechen Vermeulen) and Economics (Nazlie Mohamed) about what they experienced during Matric marking at the end of 2021. They also had a closer look at what learners are really struggling with, and how you, as a teacher, can help them on a practical level.

Exam writing techniques absent from learners who had an interrupted learning experience

“There is a big disparity in education”, according to Nazlie Mohamed. Most educators are already aware of the topic of inequality, but Covid-19 made this ‘divide’ even more apparent. Resourced schools were able to adapt seamlessly to the challenges they were presented with during Covid, whereas less resourced schools unfortunately did not have that advantage.

Consequently, the result is that the majority of the class of 2021 did not have the required examination skills honed by the end of Matric. This is due to the dramatic loss in teaching and teacher-learner contact time as well as the absence of exams in grade 10 and 11.

Mariechen and Jenny agrees that there has been a lot of discrepancy and that exam writing techniques are absent from learners who had an interrupted learning experience.

According to Mariechen, the Life Sciences past papers could potentially have given learners an idea of what type of questions to expect in the 2021 Life Sciences Matric Examination. However, even so, the losses that came with Covid definitely had an extreme impact on overall learner preparedness and performance.

And in Jenny’s own words: “The majority of learners require face-to-face contact; they feed of each other. But now they’ve missed two years of strong teaching, and in the absence of this much needed consistency, the basics are not solid.”

Tips for teachers navigating towards the 2022 Matric Exams

2022’s Matriculants are the true Covid babies – they were in grade 10 when Covid hit. Educators therefore need to do everything in their power to support these learners and help them to hone the Matric skills needed, because they are at a disadvantage. Here are some tips that you, as a teacher, may find useful to prepare your 2022 Matrics for the end-of-year exams:

  1. Make use of extra resources for example, our e-books and Maths videos are freely available for teachers.
  2. Go back to the basics and ensure that learners have a solid foundation.
  3. Use diagnostic reports to guide you: Identify the questions learners really performed poorly in and why.
  4. Focus on the understanding and application of knowledge: Marry content with application, wherever possible.
  5. Practice critical thinking with your learners, with case studies and class discussions about topics that are not necessarily covered in the textbook.
  6. As inspiration for yourself and your learners, try to incorporate trends and current news in your subject.
  7. Wherever possible, avoid giving answers to your kids and seek opportunities to foster reasoning and explain techniques instead.
  8. And always remember the famous words of Nelson Mandela:

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Tune in and have a listen to the full episode on your favourite podcast platform here 🎙️🎧