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Tutor Of The Month: Mark Bessinger

 

Mark is our May 2017 Tutor of the Month!

Mark matriculated in 2011 with outstanding results, including 2 distinctions. He is currently a 6th year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Pretoria, and after having been awarded a bursary, he plans to work for Eskom once he has completed his studies. He is one of our one of our highly recommended tutors, having worked with many learners. Mark has a passion for teaching and it is still something he considers as a possible career, having thoroughly enjoyed his experience in tutoring so far.

His advice for students is to “work hard and work smart while keeping a positive attitude”.

To get your own amazing tutor, click here.

Before You Break! Why Study Breaks Are Important

The Benefits of Study Breaks and How to Use Them Effectively

When faced with looming exams, it can often be a student’s first instinct to cram, pull all-nighters, or study for long periods of time uninterrupted. While this may work for a few students, studies find that studying without regular breaks can actually decrease academic performance and results. In addition, it can lead to anxiety, depression and insomnia! Research suggests that short mental breaks, doing something completely different, will actually help you to focus. Study breaks can improve retention and understanding over longer periods, as well as relax your mind.

Making study breaks successful

• Make a note of where you are stopping
• Set a time limit to your break, and stick to it
• Change your scenery
• Know yourself, and don’t start any activity that you could easily get lost in
• Get back to work as soon as your break ends, without stressing about how much there is left to do or procrastinating

What not to do in a study break

• Update your Facebook
• Phone or message a friend
• Anything to do with the subject you’re studying
• Start a new series
• The same thing you did in your last break!

What to do instead

• Exercise: take a walk, kick a ball around, or dance to your favourite song
• Meditate
• Nap for 10-20 minutes (any longer and you’ll just feel drowsy!)
• Make a (healthy) snack
• Read a book or magazine

How can BrightSparkz help?

Ask your tutor to help you plan your study timetable, as well as advice on what study methods you should use based on your Learning Styles Assessment. If you need extra lessons to help cement in some of the concepts you need to know for your exams, either contact your tutor, or get in touch with your BrightSparkz office to book extra lessons today (email Cape Town or Joburg). If you’re totally at a loss for how to study, book a Study Skills Crash Course with our Educoach! Click here to find out more.

Written By: Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Surviving the NBTs: What you need to know

What you need to know about the National Benchmark Tests

The National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) are South Africa’s version of the SAT’s. These tests determine your academic readiness to enter university. The NBTs are necessary because of the variety of school curricula in South Africa, as well as the differences in the level of education provided country-wide. These tests therefore provide an even playing field – a national benchmark against which to score students. University admission and placement are determined by the NBTs.

There are two types of NBTs, and which test/s you need to take is determined by the university course you are applying for (most universities have this information available on their websites). The Academic and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) Test needs to be written by all applicants. The AQL tests language and mathematical literacy skills, and may be taken in both English and Afrikaans. The Mathematics (MAT) Test tests only mathematical skills. Both tests are multiple choice, and you will have 3 hours to write each test.

The National Benchmark Tests test your ability to apply prior knowledge in a way designed to test problem-solving and lateral thinking. The results will indicate your likelihood of being able to succeed academically at tertiary level. These results are sent directly to the university/universities you have applied to. As a result, you will only need to write one set of tests, even for multiple applications. For more information on what is in the tests, click here.

When do I need to write?

This will be determined by the date that the course you are applying for needs the results by (this will be on the university’s website). The NBT test schedule provides the date that each test’s results will be sent to the various universities. This normally takes about a month, so make sure you plan ahead!

Where can I write?

There are a variety of venues in each province that host the tests, as well as in most countries neighbouring South Africa. For a full list, please see venues. If you live in a remote location, you will need to apply to the NBT Project to have a venue set up near you, or you can apply to be a remote writer.

What are the costs involved?

To write one NBT costs R80. To write both (must be written on the same day) will cost R160. You can pay on the EasyPay website, or you can visit an EasyPay Paypoint (like Pick N Pay, Shoprite or Checkers). You will need to register for the NBTs before you can pay.

How can BrightSparkz Tutors help?

While no past or sample papers are available for the NBTs, and specific course material is not available, extra tutoring lessons in maths and languages can help you! If you want lessons specifically for this reason, please let your BrightSparkz client consultant know, so that they can find the best tutor for your needs. Find a tutor here.

If you live in a remote location, and need to write a remote test, BrightSparkz can also help you to find an invigilator to oversee your NBTs. Find an invigilator here.

 

Written By: Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

Matric Rewrites (Supplementary Exams)

All is not lost…

If you’re a 2016 Matriculant looking to be accepted into a tertiary institution or hoping to become employed, passing Matric and receiving your certificate is one of the essentials. However, due to various circumstances, Matric exams may have been an overwhelming struggle for you, resulting in you not meeting the minimum requirements to pass Grade 12 and step into your planned future.

But all is not lost – you may qualify for a supplementary examination (i.e. a Matric rewrite), allowing you a second chance to pass your failed subject/s.

 

Do I qualify?

According to the Department of Education you qualify for a supplementary exam:

  • If you did not pass Grade 12 but need to pass 2 subjects to obtain your NSC. You can register a maximum of 2 subjects for your supplementary exam. However, the candidate needs to have written these subjects during their final year exam.
  • If the candidate is medically unfit or other special reasons for the candidate’s absence, he or she may register for the supplementary examination.
  • If there is a death in the immediate family of the candidate, or other special reasons for the candidate’s absence, he or she may register for the supplementary examination.
  • If the candidate provides evidence that they qualify for admission to a higher education institution but do not satisfy the higher education faculty requirements or for an occupation, as well as candidates who are one requirement short in meeting the minimum admission requirements for higher certificate, diploma and bachelor degree programs, can register for supplementary exams. However, a candidate is only allowed to register for a maximum of 2 subjects.
  • In a case where an irregularity is being investigated, provisional enrolment for supplementary examination may be granted to the candidate concerned, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  • A candidate who was unable to write or complete one or more of the National Senior Certificate examination question papers for reasons other than illness or injury may apply to write the supplementary examination, provided that a written report is submitted by the principal of the school to the Head of the assessment body.

If you meet the above criteria, and would like to register for a rewrite, please contact the Department of Education, via your school. The closing date for applications is the 19 January 2017. But avoid any further stress and register as soon as possible, after receiving your results.

The supplementary examinations usually take place in February and March, however, the 2016 dates have not yet been finalised so keep an eye on the media releases posted on the Department of Education website, as well as updates posted via our BrightSparkzSA Twitter page.

 

2016 NCS EXAMINATION RESULTS WILL BE BROADCAST LIVE

04 JANUARY 2017  I  18H00  I  SABC 1  I  eNCA  I

Individual results available at schools and www.education.gov.za

05 JANUARY 2017

If you’d like to receive an instant E-mail or SMS as soon as your results are released, sign up via the eNCA website – the official partners of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) for 2016 Matric results.

 

*For more information on qualifying rewrite conditions, dates, pricing etc. visit: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/NationalSeniorCertificate(NSC)Examinations/Releaseof2016NSCResults.aspx

*For answers to other frequently asked questions about rewrites, visit: http://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/NationalSeniorCertificate(NSC)Examinations/tabid/338/Default.aspx

 

How do I prepare?

  • Past Exam Papers

Past exam papers are some of the best form of revision. Get access to a number of papers for various subjects via YOU Online or directly from the Department of Education’s examinations page.

  • Tutoring

This is also an excellent time to consider tutoring. Our tutors will assist you with those difficult sections of work you just can’t seem to grasp on your own, and will help ensure you cover all the material needed before your rewrite. By getting support systems in place well in advance, you will improve your chances of improving your marks and passing your failed subject/s.

Get in touch with us via our rewrite page and we’ll set you up with a tutor who will be there with you every step of the way.

We want to see you succeed, and assist you in achieving the marks that you not only need, but are capable of.

 

Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer (containing inserts from the DoE website)

Tutoring Learners with Dyslexia

In order to really help learners’ with dyslexia, you need to understand what exactly dyslexia is. Dyslexia is a learning disability that causes an individual to struggle with reading and writing. It can also affect other areas of a person’s life such as with memory skills, focusing and organization. When you understand how to teach a learner with dyslexia, you can help to improve their self-awareness as well as their cognitive skills by using teaching methods that include a multi-sensory approach. This can help them, not only in the classroom, but in other areas of their lives as well. Learners with dyslexia differ significantly in their ability to give oral presentations, partake in discussions, write letters, numbers, and paragraphs, spelling and have difficulty working in noisy or disorderly settings.

The following tips may help to improve your tutoring as well as their performance:

If you are helping the learner with a project – Outline the task before you start.  Think it through and figure out what steps to take, what is needed and how much time it will take to complete. Break a big project up into smaller and less intimidating sections.  Prioritise the work, not only by what is due, but also by what requires more or less time.

During a lesson:

  • Provide step-by-step instructions
  • Arrange work from the easiest to the hardest. Early success keeps learners motivated to work!
  • Present new or difficult information in small parts and complete each section in steps
  • A regular review of previous lessons can help learners connect new and old information
  • Don’t fall into the ‘no homework’ trap.  Instead, use any free time to do revision or begin work that is due later
  • Oftentimes, asking the learner to repeat directions and information in their own words can help them understand what is required of them. This is also a vital part for recalling information at a later stage when you are not necessarily there to assist
  • Combine verbal and visual information. Studies show that dyslexic learners are more likely to understand and retain visual information than information that is verbal or written
  • Use visual prompts. Put symbols or bullets next to questions or activities that are worth more marks. This helps learners to spend the right amount of time on each question
  • For learners who have difficulty with handwriting, the response mode should be changed to include a variety of answering methods such as underlining, selecting from multiple choices, sorting, or marking
  • Reduce the amount of copying. Instead, ask the learner to repeat what has been read or heard in his or her own words
  • Have learners turn lined paper vertically for math. This helps to keep numbers in the appropriate columns

Lastly, patience and encouragement is key! Build up a level of communication between you and your learner to improve your understanding of one another. Communication and understanding will provide much-needed encouragement, increase work performance and to get the most out of your lessons together.

Do you have any thoughts or tips to share when tutoring a learner with Dyslexia?

Written By Kristin Naude – Brightsparkz Tutor – Maths Literacy, English and Business Studies Tutor

BrightSparkz Tutors – Simple Tips To Help Beat Your Exams

It can be difficult to concentrate and study, especially when our brains take in about 11 million bits of information per second! If you struggle to concentrate and stay focused on your studies, the following tips can be helpful:

Study Tips:

  • Keep two to-do lists: One to-do list for everything you need to do. Keep this list away when you are studying. The second to-do list should only contain the three items you are going to complete next; nothing goes on this list unless something else comes off!
  • Make a study timetable: Ask your BrightSparkz tutor to help you set up a timetable that fits in with your specific schedule and needs.
  • Find a suitable study environment and stay away from your cellphone!
  • Set study goals: What do you want to achieve? Now do it!
  • Reward yourself: Set a goal for how much work you will learn in a specified amount of time. When you have achieved this goal, reward yourself with something you enjoy.
  • Learn to say no: Even though seeing your friends is more enjoyable, a holiday spent with your friends while knowing you achieved good results is even better!
  • Post-Its: Stick them around your room to remind you of your priorities or even use them to remember those important points for a test!

Foods that help you concentrate:

  • Nuts with dark chocolate: Nuts and seeds are natural vitamin E antioxidants and lessen cognitive decline as we age. Dark chocolate also contains caffeine to enhance focus.
  • Avocadoes and whole grains: This helps with blood flow, which helps when you are stuck studying for extended periods.
  • Fish: Many refer to it as brain food
  • Blueberries: Are very nutritious and studies show that they can help improve learning and muscle function.
  • Water: Your body becomes tired and dehydrated when you do not drink enough water. This makes you lose focus and to become tired. Keep a bottle of water next to you when you study.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

 

Do you have any good tips you would like to add?  Feel free to add your comment!

Good luck and have fun

The need for home tutors in South Africa

According to the 2014 Global Information Technology Report, under the sub-category, ‘skills’, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education comes in last place. South Africa fares behind the likes of Haiti, Lesotho, Chad, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya. Worse still, according to the World Economic Forum report, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education places it last out of 148 countries.

Democratic Alliance education spokesperson Annette Lovemore said, the ministerial report exposes “gaping holes at every level of our education system.” The national education strategy is considered outdated; there is a major shortage of qualified teachers and, those who are qualified have been negatively affected by the curriculum changes over the last 10 years.

With a rise in unemployment, an increase in occupational requirements coupled with international competition and limited space for further study; a “quality education” is now, more than ever, “a crucial necessity for creating more globally competitive young adults, much-needed jobs and entrepreneurs,” says Lovemore.

So how do we as South Africans, or better yet, as students, move past and succeed in a country whose educational system and standards appear almost dismal?

I have been tutoring for 3 years and I cannot help but notice the dwindling amount of importance and enthusiasm some learners place on their education. Some of my learners receive exam notes that are so poorly printed even I cannot make out the words. If teachers (certainly not all) do not care enough to equip learners with the requirements to pass, how can we as parents or educators blame them?

Brightsparkz tutors employ only the best tutors to help fill any gaps and difficulties that your learner may be experiencing. By selecting the best tutor for the learner’s specific needs, BrightSparkz Tutors help them gain a greater level of enthusiasm for their education which is the first step in achieving academic success.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

Make the Most of your Education

According to southafrica.info, 18% of people over that age of 15 in our country are illiterate. Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly 9 million people are not functionally literate in South Africa. How can these statistics ever hope to be improved when currently one out of every three school attending children do not have work books?

Tony Blair was once quoted as saying that the three most important priorities of his government would be “education, education and education” – and yet so many of us fail to recognise its importance while still at school. Don’t worry – I’m not going to jump onto my high horse and start preaching about how school is the best days of your life, and that you should appreciate your education (although, really, you should) but as a tutor, I’m starting to realise more and more how important it is for young children to realise that there really is something to be grateful for.

According to the Huffington Post, college graduates earn 84% more than High School graduates.  Education pays – quite literally. So how can you make the most out of your education and the wonderful opportunity that has been afforded you – someone privileged enough to attend a good, if not great, school? I’ve made a list of my top 5 tips to get the most out of your education:

1)      Always do your homework.

This one is probably the most obvious – and it really is the most important. Homework is not an evil device invented by a sadistic terrorist with a long goatee and a top hat, designed specifically to torture you and keep you away from Gossip Girl reruns or MTV.  It’s there to help you practice what you learnt that day, and discover any problems that you might have BEFORE your exams.

 2)      Ask questions

If your teacher, or tutor, says something that you don’t understand, ask for another explanation. That’s what they are there for – and at the end of the day, it’s better to be slightly embarrassed in class, than awfully embarrassed when exam results come back.

 3)      Take subjects that you are passionate about

In South Africa, we only get the opportunity to choose our subjects for the last 3 years of school – and it is so important that you make the right choice for YOU. Have an honest discussion with your parents about where your interests lie, and then follow your passions. Not in grade 10 yet? Choose essay, speech and project topics (whenever possible) that suit things that you love. It’s much easier to write about something you know than having to do endless research about a topic that you find boring. If you choose something you love – it will always show in your marks.

 4)      Do an extramural activity

Most schools offer a huge variety of things that you can do after school – be it a sport, cultural activity or even a service to the school. Any one of these things will make you feel more passionate about school, and give you something to look forward to. It also looks great on university applications if you are a well-rounded pupil.

 5)      Admit when you don’t understand

There are so many avenues open to students these days that there is no need to struggle through your homework alone. If you don’t understand a section – or if a whole subject is Greek to you – admit it to yourself and your parents as soon as possible. Being weaker in a certain area is nothing to be embarrassed about – everyone has their own strengths and weakness. Do extra examples. Ask your parents for help. Get a tutor. Having one-on-one tuition with someone experienced in that subject will go along way in preparing you for your exams long before there is a mad panic and rush a week before the exam. It is never too early to start preparing for matric!

Did you know: The Wright brother’s first flight was a total distance of only 36.5 meters – which is shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 707!

Tut-or-loo,

Charlie Brown