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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)

Holiday Tutoring: Helping your child rest, without regressing

School holidays are on the horizon, and there is no doubt that children’s minds are already filled with the many fun activities they’re planning to spend all their free time on – one of which we can be sure, is not extra tutoring. Though it may appear to parents as if their children are like sponges and can soak up any amount of extra information over the break, the reality is that the holidays are there for a reason. They are intended to give their young minds a rest. However, the operative word here is rest – not a complete brain shutdown.

Studies have shown that learners, particularly young children, actually display a dip in their academic abilities after extended periods of relaxation, such as long holidays. Upon returning to school, learners are expected to continue on the same, if not a higher level, however, teachers speak of a noticeable backslide in all subjects, as well as in reading and handwriting levels – all being at an even poorer level than prior to the break.

This is due to the fact that young minds need to be continuously stimulated. Children will find something to do with their holidays, but the question is: are these activities actually going to benefit them, or simply allow for academic regress?

How holiday tutoring helps to avoid the regress and make progress:

 

  1. It keeps a general structure

Most people, although we sometimes resent it, need structure in their lives, and children even more so. Without it, a certain level of anxiety can begin to set in – nothing is as it usually is and there is a level of unpredictability that a large percentage of learners (as well as their parents) don’t deal with well. Learners go from a strict and organized schedule of classes, tests, and homework, to weeks of PlayStation games, sleeping in, and countless hours to fill.

Holiday tutoring allows both parent and child to feel as though the academic realm of life is still under control. This also then allows for the other 70% of the holiday time to actually be enjoyed as resting time, as opposed to subconscious stressing time – knowing that the break will at some point end and that they are not at all ready for the new workload that awaits them.

Having your child sit down with a tutor at regular intervals throughout the holiday (even for as little as 1 lesson per week) will provide just enough structure to help your child keep their focus on academics, as well as ease the transition back into the new term.

  1. It allows time to go back to the basics

All subjects, particularly Maths and Science have their basic building blocks, and as I can recall from my own Maths struggles at school, as soon as you’ve missed a set of basics, it is near impossible to make sense of anything that comes after that. Whether your child has missed a few too many days at school, or has just had absolutely no understanding up to this point, the holiday is a great time to use to catch up on concepts missed, and fill the understanding gaps. Once learners start the new term, there will be even more new work to get to grips with.

  1. It gives learners the time they actually need

Without the pressure of class tests and assignments constantly creeping up on them, the break allows learners to feel as though they actually have the time to spend fully grasping various concepts. Additionally, because children are generally more relaxed in the holidays, they are able to retain more information and are afforded the time to actually process it before too quickly moving right onto something new, as is most often the case at school.

  1. It allows you to pick the best time, not just what is left of the time

Extra lessons by nature are forced to take place after school hours when very often a learner is already so drained that all they want to do is something mindless such as kicking a ball outside or staring into a television screen. Yet, after a full academic day, parents and tutors expect them to take in an extra load of information – a lot of which is often entirely lost. Of course, there is not much that can be done about this, but that’s what makes the holidays such an ideal time for tutoring. Learners can have lessons in the morning when their minds are still fresh and are able to process and retain information, particularly new information, more effectively.

  1. It helps to alleviate test and exam anxiety

Most people have some degree of test anxiety, which is most often due to the fact that they never feel completely ready for what they’re about to be tested on. Tests make up a large part of a learner’s grade and it is therefore essential that they are able to perform in this area. A holiday tutor can use the time to not only help your child better prepare for future tests and exams, but also improve on study skills as whole – teaching a learner how to more effectively study and prepare throughout the year, even when not accompanied by a tutor.

  1. It lightens a parent’s load

While children seem to spend more time on holiday than they do at school, parents most often still need to be at work. So when their child is sent home with holiday homework and assignments, it can be a challenge finding time to help them get these done. Thank goodness for tutors, who can not only be the ones making sure that the holiday work is completed, but also that your child actually understands the content of the work and is still learning from it.

  1. It is a time to re-evaluate and set new goals

Tutors are great motivators of inspiring and encouraging their learners to constantly achieve better results. Why not make the most of the accountability relationship your child develops with a tutor and allow them to spend time together in the holidays, not only for the sake of working on school material, but to help them set academic goals for the new term, allowing them to start the new term feeling inspired and driven to achieve them.

  1. It teaches learners to step-up

Holiday tutoring is not mandatory. Therefore, learners who are spending that little bit of extra academic time during the holidays are learning the value of taking charge of their situation, as opposed to being a victim of their academic struggles, or still improving on their average marks and pushing for distinctions. Holiday tutoring instills discipline and teaches the value of doing what others don’t, in order to achieve what others won’t. There is no doubt that learners will see the positive outcomes of their hard-work when returning to school with a greater confidence and understanding.

Myth Busters!

Many parents may assume that it is only necessary to make use of a tutor if their child is struggling, and some even wait until the child has already failed before it feels acceptable to seek the help of a tutor. However, tutoring can be beneficial to every kind of child – whether they are a failing student desperate to pass, or an average one chasing distinctions.

“Research suggests that 30 minutes, 3 – 5 times a week is a very effective way of helping children catch up, maintain or even excel in their academic abilities, especially if they are given one-to-one input, and is the best way to ensure they get the most out of their education”.

 

While an intense boot-camp style tutoring schedule will inevitably burn your child out before the new term has even begun, there are many benefits to having a tutor help your child keep up with a moderate level of academic stimulation throughout the holiday. It will set them up for the best Term 2 possible – and help them actually achieve those marks you’ve been praying about.

How BrightSparkz can help:

  • Private tutoring

BrightSparkz Tutors offers one-on-one, subject specific tutoring that takes place in the comfort of your own home or a venue of your choice. Tutors aim to identify the gaps in knowledge, while simultaneously facilitating learning through lots of practice, revision of theory, and interactive discussion of the subject matter.

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are selected carefully based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent knowledge of the subjects they tutor, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential.

  • BrightSparkz App

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths and Science App tailored to South African learners from Grade 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB learners. The platform provides top quality resources, breaks up these curriculum into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons.

  • Study Skills Workshops

BrightSparkz Tutors has partnered with an outstanding, specialist Educational Psychologist with a tutoring and teaching background in order to provide yet another value added service that our learners can benefit from, in order to make the most of their tutoring, and go into the exam period feeling like everything is manageable. For more information on when and where our holiday workshops will take place, please contact us on edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

 

If a holiday tutor sounds like just what you need, BrightSparkz Tutors are ready to help. Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right onto looking for the most suitable tutor for your learner’s needs.

 

Written by Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

So You Think You Failed a Matric Subject: What Next?

Passing Matric is essential; it is the culmination of twelve years of education, and a basic requirement to access tertiary education. Many employers are reluctant to hire those without a Matric certificate, and if you have failed your Matric, things may seem pretty bleak.

Fortunately, you may qualify for a supplementary examination (i.e. a Matric re-write), allowing you to have a second go at the subjects you failed. According to the Department of Basic Education website, you may qualify for a supplementary exam if you:

  • Were medically unfit on the day of the exam;
  • Do not meet admission requirements for Higher Education;
  • Experienced personal problems such as a death in the family; or
  • Failed a maximum of two subjects

If you meet these criteria, and want to register for a re-write, then contact the Department of Education, via your school.  The deadline to register for a supplementary exam is usually mid-January, but it is best to register as soon as possible after you receive your results. The supplementary examinations usually take place in February and March. The 2016 dates have not yet been finalised so keep an eye on the media releases posted on the Department of Education website once the Matric results are released.

This is also an excellent time to consider tutoring, to assist you with those difficult sections of work and to help you cover all the material needed before you write your exam. By getting support systems in place well in advance of your Matric re-write, you will improve your chances of improving your marks and passing your subject. It is important to know, however, that it is also up to you to pass, so start observing good study habits: make up a timetable; give yourself a good, clean, well-lit study area, away from the hustle and bustle of the house.

Get in touch with us soon (don’t wait until the last minute) and we’ll get you set 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 want to get!

Written by Conor Engelbrecht, Maths & Science Tutor

Help Reduce Your Child’s Exam Stress

This time of year is busy on all fronts, and if you have children of school-going age life gets just that little bit more hectic as you help them navigate their their exam and study workload.

Here are 5 tips to help you and your child cope with exam stress during this busy season:

  1. Encourage routine – this includes study time, mealtimes, bed times, as well as making some time for fun and exercise!
  1. Have healthy snacks readily available – Chocolate, energy drinks, and coffee all result in fatigue and spikes and dips in blood sugar levels and concentration. Instead, have a supply of healthy snack options like fruit, nuts, popcorn and ensure they drink lots of water!
  1. Create a study space – Teen bedrooms are not the neatest of places! Try and find an alternative study space (as uncluttered and distraction-free as possible) which can be turned into a “study-zone”.
  1. Provide support – this goes beyond just offering academic support. Emotional support and encouragement goes a long way to boost confidence and positive feelings. Offer to make a cup of tea from time to time, or PVR their favourite show for later 🙂
  1. Planning ahead – Have a calendar on the wall with all upcoming exam dates. Don’t rush to get to school on the morning of the exam – pack the night before, and leave enough time margin to get to school early.

All that’s left is to make sure you keep a smile on your face 🙂

Good luck!

From us on the BrightSparkz Team 🙂

Is There a Secret to Raising Smart Kids?

A recent article by Carol S. Dweck suggests there may be! Her article, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” outlines the difference between two mind-sets, namely, a fixed mind-set and a growth mind-set. On the basis of extensive research and studies, she argues that a growth mind-set is the secret to being smart!

What is the growth mind-set? – The growth mind-set focuses on “process” and hard work rather than on talent or intelligence. The growth mind-set places greater importance on learning through effort, hard work and overcoming challenges, and not running from them.

Many people assume that superior intelligence, capability or talent is the key to success. While this definitely helps, it is not necessarily the key, or the only key, to success. Research conducted over more than three decades shows that an overemphasis on intelligence or talent alone may cause feelings of vulnerability and a fear of challenges. Such feelings may stem from the notion that intelligence and talent are innate qualities and therefore pre-determine one’s capabilities and standards for learning and achieving. This is not true.

Tutors, parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in learners through praise for persistence, dedication, and hard work rather than for being clever. Simply telling a learner they are smart can instil a sense of laziness (or a fixed mind-set) because learners feel they are clever enough not to have to work or put in any effort. Such learners may thrive in earlier grades under the impression that not working while still maintaining good grades, means they are smart or gifted. Unfortunately, this ease seldom extends to higher grades and these learner’s results may later plummet. Rather than telling your learner how smart they are, praise them for their effort and what they did right. Tell learners success stories that emphasise and inspire hard work and an appreciation for learning.

Further research indicates that a growth mind-set better equips learners to deal with failure or bad grades. Learners who do not maintain a growth mind-set and have coasted by thinking they are too smart to make an effort, may attribute failure or a decline in grades to a lack of ability or intelligence rather than a simple lack of effort. Learners with a growth mind-set are more inclined to see a challenge or an issue as a problem to be solved instead of an obstacle they don’t have the capability or intelligence to overcome.

Tutors, teachers and parents should encourage learners to see the brain as a learning machine. If we see the brain as a machine that is constantly learning (which it is), then we are more likely to believe that we can expand our knowledge and skill-set through hard work and effort.

We at BrightSparkz Tutors agree that the brain is a learning machine and our tutors pride themselves on helping your learners to overcome any difficulty they may be experiencing through fun, dedication and enjoyment in learning!

If you want to learn more about the growth mind-set, visit http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/ to view the entire article.

Are You Rewriting Your Matric Exams

Are you unhappy with your matric results? Are you stressing about college and university acceptance? You do have options!

If you have failed only one or two subjects, then writing the supplementary examinations is an option for you. Matric rewrites are a popular choice for many learners because you are able to rewrite only those subjects you are unhappy with or need to improve in order to gain varsity acceptance.

If you think that rewrites may be an option for you then check your local newspapers, the internet and schools for the application deadline dates as each one is different.  The rewrite exam timetable can be obtained from the Provincial Education Department head office or from your school. The examinations will be offered from May/June 2015. All learners who wish to rewrite should visit their school or nearest office of the Department of Education to register and make sure that they qualify for rewrites.

Should you have any queries, you can contact the office via www.education.gov.za or info@dbe.gov.za  or call 0800 202 933.

If you do not qualify for a particular department at a particular institution because your matric results are too low, there are a number of bridging courses that institutions offer which allow someone into his or her desired field. Visit the FirstStep.me higher education directory for various institutions. The best idea would be to contact the South African Department of Basic Education, as they should be able to provide a list of establishments whereby you can improve your matric with more specific details.

The best option for you depends on your results, your further education plans and the marks that you hope to achieve. Whichever option you decide, BrightSparkz Tutors is here to help! Brightsparkz Tutors sends only the most educated and best-suited tutors to you and can assist you in preparing for your rewrite exams. Our tutors are reliable, efficient and best of all, fun! We make learning easier, quicker and more enjoyable. Visit www.brightsparkz.co.za to book your exam rewrite tutor today!

So shed some stress as we shed some light

Tutor Tips: How to Sharpen Your Mind

Keeping the mind focused and attuned to what you are supposed to be focused on can be challenging! This is especially applicable for those of us who have busy schedules and who are in the middle of exams. Knowing the trivialities of distraction and procrastination; here is a list of ways to help you sharpen your mind:

  • Stay Active – Research shows that the more active you are; the better you are at retaining information and the less likely you are to suffer from memory loss as you get older. This doesn’t mean that you need to be at the gym every day. Instead, consider taking a daily walk or a different route to work or school in order to keep your mind and body active and engaged.
  • Break Things Up! – It is easier to memorize larger topics in parts. Once you are used to remembering smaller sections of information, you can start processing bigger chunks as you go along. This way you will get used to retaining more information each time.
  • Keep Things Organized – It’s difficult to remember things if your surroundings are disorganised. Take the time to organise your studies and study environment because the brain will then be able to sort what you study in a similar way as to how you organized it in the physical space
  • Visualize – Some studies suggest that it helps to visualize what it is you want to remember. The brain works by creating visuals of things. For example, when you read the word “dog” your brain doesn’t conjure up an image of the letters d-o-g, but rather the word invokes images of what a dog is. Rather than trying to get your brain to remember random symbols, attach the meaning of those symbols to visual cues and concepts that are easier to remember.
  • Use Associations – The brain works by building a large network of associations. That’s why there are certain words, phrases, and images that automatically make us link and remember certain things. If you want to remember someone’s name (especially in history), it’s good to build a memory association around it. That way all you have to do is remember the association, and the name should pop up along with it.
  • Use Mnemonics – This involves using phrases like Never Eat Silk Worms to remember the order of compass directions; N (North) E (East) S (SOUTH) and W (West). Mnemonics provide clues about what you’re trying to remember. If you have to remember a list of random items, it may be easier to establish a mnemonic in order to keep it organized and help you remember the first letter of each item on that list.
  • Rehearse and Rephrase – Rehearsing what you need to remember is a great way to commit it to memory. This will add repetition; and tutors, this is especially helpful for younger learners! Rephrase large sections of information into a short story or rhyme to help your learners remember information in a fun way.
  • Use Gestures – When you use or make gestures such as tapping, clapping, snapping, and others in conjunction with what you’re trying to remember, it commits this information to your muscle memory.
  • Say it Loud – Saying what you want to remember aloud helps you to remember things better and to recall it later. People have an aural memory when hearing what is spoken. This engages a different part of your brain, which can be beneficial to the process of recalling what it is you need.
  • Lastly, stay hydrated and feed your brain – Water, water, water! And remember the food you eat has a direct effect on your brain, which is why it’s essential to eat foods that contain the proper antioxidants for brain health.

 

Written by Kristin Naude of BrightSparkz Tutors – English and Maths Tutor