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Blanking Out During An Exam

What to do when you blank out in an examination

Blanking out in an exam, whether it happens once or every time you face a test situation, is an unnerving and frustrating experience.

Usually exam stress and blanking out is caused by anxiety. There is a great deal of pressure to perform well in exams and a lot of fear that if you don’t it will affect your future negatively, especially if it is school-leaving exams. Even for younger learners, they may fear disappointing their parents or even being punished if they do not produce good results.

What you can do before an exam to reduce the chances of blanking out or freezing:

  1. Prepare well

Study the content you need to study for the exam. Pay attention in class and listen for any clues the teacher may give such as tips on the sorts of questions which are often asked. Ask your teacher if there are any areas to concentrate on or spend time preparing. Do the work. Practise and do examples and past papers where possible.

If you are struggling in a particular subject, engage the services of a hand-picked tutor who will assist you to catch up or help you close any gaps in your knowledge and give you other perspectives.

If you fear that you are studying incorrectly or that you don’t know how to study correctly, consider investing in a study skills crash course which will greatly build your confidence and reduce your stress.

2. Prepare emotionally

In addition to academic preparation, it may be helpful to prepare emotionally, particularly for subjects that you do not feel very confident in. Picture yourself going into the examination, being calm, reading through the paper and tackling the questions you know. Realize that if you do your absolute best, that is all anyone can ask of you. Realize that even if you don’t do as well as you would like, it is not a matter of life and death. Think of possible contingency plans if you do not do as well as you wanted to – this will help you to feel that you still have some control.

3. Prepare an exam strategy

The Study Skills Crash Course will help you with this. In general, some good tips are: read the paper carefully, answer the questions you know beforehand, and if you have time at the end, read over your answers.

4. Physical preparation

Make sure you get enough rest, do some physical exercise, eat good food which stimulates concentration (like fish), and cut down on junk food and sugar.

5. Organize examination concessions assistance

If you qualify for examination concessions due to some barrier to learning or learning disability, ensure that you apply for this well before exams. Ensure that you have the necessary help during your exams by booking a trained and qualified concessions facilitator beforehand to avoid disappointment.

What to do during an exam if you blank out:

Even if you have prepared well beforehand and you know your work, you may still suddenly blank out in the examination room. Try the following:

  • If you are being assisted by a facilitator, alert them to the fact that you have gone blank and allow them to direct you.
  • If you are alone, remember that this is not a life-threatening situation (even if it feels like it), and that you will get through this. Turn your paper over, close your eyes, and breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Do this several times until your breathing returns to normal. If you need to do this several times during the the exam and you fear running out of time, remember that this is preferable to being unable to do anything at all on the exam paper!
  • If need be, leave the question you were working on (leave some blank space if necessary), and continue with a question you feel more confident about.
  • Read through your exam paper and mark all the questions you feel more confident about. Aim to answer those first. It is not strictly necessary to answer questions in the order they are asked in the exam paper, but you MUST ensure that all questions are numbered strictly according to the numbers on the exam paper. If your paper is a mess and not numbered correctly, the examiner will be unable to mark it and you will lose marks unnecessarily.

After the exam:

  • Do not waste time beating yourself up about blanking out in the exam! Exam post-mortems serve no good purpose unless they help you to identify what caused you to blank out and to remedy the situation. Let it go otherwise.
  • Remember that an exam situation is a stressful situation by its very nature. Most people are not overjoyed at the thought of writing exams. If you are affected to the extent that you cannot function in any exam no matter how much you prepare, you will need to learn adequate coping mechanisms like consulting a qualified Edu-coach or investigating whether you qualify for a concession.

Action of some sort is the best way to move you forward and gain control of the situation. Identify what needs to be done and do that. Exams do not control you. Your future consists of more than writing exams!

Written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

Do I need a TUTOR or an AU PAIR?

What is the difference between a tutor and an au pair?

With the hectic pace of today’s life, many parents find that they need assistance with their children to some degree. You may find that there is too much day left at the end of your energy. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at the end of a busy day. Especially if this is when your children need attention or help with their schoolwork! You may not feel equipped to help with schoolwork, especially with children in high school. You have heard the words tutor and au pair, but aren’t sure which one would best suit your specific needs and schedule.

To help you decide, here is an overview of the main differences between a tutor and an au pair:

What is a Tutor?

A tutor is an individual who assists with specific academic support. Tutors are typically well educated, and usually studying at tertiary institutions. Tutors are also sometimes working individuals who enjoy sharing knowledge with younger learners in their spare time. At the very least, tutors would have successfully completed Grade 12 with great results.

Childcare tutor vs au pair

A tutor can also be described as follows:

  • A tutor should also be able to teach or convey information in a meaningful way. Just achieving brilliant academic results is not enough. They should have superior or expert knowledge in the subjects they tutor.  
  • A good tutor will also be easy to relate to, preferably with a calm and patient demeanour, especially if they are tutoring younger learners. They should have good communication skills and be easy to understand.
  • An understanding of learning styles and methods is beneficial to a tutor. This allows them to tutor different individuals in ways that are meaningful to them, and assist with study skills that a learner can relate to for the subject they tutor. BrightSparkz Tutors provides a learning styles assessment to all new clients. 
  • A tutor is a successful individual who has ambition and they often have drive and determination to achieve their goals. As such, they make good mentors to the learners they tutor, as they provide inspiration, motivation and encouragement.
  • Usually the tutor will come to your home at times suitable to you, so there is no driving around like you would when transporting your children to extra lessons. A private tutor will spend an hour or two of focused time with the learner where knowledge is passed over, and usually a tutoring relationship is one-on-one. The tutor will prepare lessons according to the school syllabus. Assisting the learner to achieve better academic results is their major focus.

How a tutor can help you:

  • If your children require assistance to improve their grades, and you do not need childcare services other than academic support, at home tutoring is a great option for you. BrightSparkz Tutors offers hand-picked tutors who have been screened and interviewed and are able to deliver a high-quality service to you. A specialist maths tutor, science tutor or Afrikaans tutor may be just what your child needs to move to the next level of academic achievement.
  • Perhaps your child has always struggled to learn Afrikaans? We offer an excellent Afrikaans Boot Camp which will teach your child in a fun way, and improve their confidence levels enormously!
  • Does your child have special needs or some barrier to learning? Do they qualify for a reader or scribe? We can help! We offer trained concessions facilitators as one of our services.

What is an Au Pair?

An au pair should be considered if you require childcare services other than academic support. The duties carried out by au pairs may differ widely depending on requirements. In general au pairs will transport children to and from school, arrange their lunch and / or snacks, supervise homework and help with projects. Au pairs may also transport children to and from extra mural activities. They may also care for children until their parents arrive home from work, and assist with bath and dinner routines.

Childcare au pair vs tutor

Some other relevant information pertaining to au pairs may include:

  • An au pair may tutor as well as supervise homework. Not all au pairs have tertiary education, or are academically inclined, so may not be equipped to fill the role of a tutor. (It is recommended to have subject-specific tutoring once or twice per week for academic improvement to occur).
  • Often an au pair may have too many other duties to perform to focus solely on academics. They may be busy with more than one child simultaneously. Au pairs often need childcare experience. This is not necessary for a tutor. 
  • You may need an au pair if:
    • Childcare duties are your primary concern
    • You need assistance with more than one child at the same time daily
    • Your child/children need supervision for several hours a day
    • Transport to and from extramural activities is one of your requirements.

Should you need someone to perform childcare duties in addition to delivering specialist, focused education services, you may wish to use the services of both an au pair and a tutor. If you’re still not sure if a tutor or an au pair would be the best fit for you, get in touch with us! One of our consultants will gladly assist.

If you would like to get your own amazing tutor, get in touch with us! BrightSparkz Tutors does not provide au pairs. 

Written by: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

Why tutoring is the best part-time job

Looking for a part-time job? Be a Tutor!

If you are interested in getting a part-time job, there are so many options available to you – it’s often daunting trying to choose! Part-time jobs may require different skills sets, and range from less skilled jobs (washing dishes or flipping burgers), to the highly-skilled spectrum where formal education and experience is required, like business consulting or coaching.

Tutoring as a part-time job falls under the spectrum of skilled work. You need to be well educated yourself and have achieved good results to be able to help others as an academic tutor. Tutoring offers you many benefits as a part-time job – here are just some of them:

Being a tutor helps you develop your character and life skills

You will learn patience and empathy as a tutor, or develop these traits further. Some learners will grasp concepts more quickly than others, and all learners learn in different ways.

You will also learn or improve on your own time management and goal-setting skills as you assist your learners to do the same.

Tutoring grows your own knowledge base – you learn when teaching others

As much as you are teaching others, you will learn from them. This might not be in an academic sense, but in many other ways. Tutoring will “cement” your own knowledge as you teach key concepts, which may make the experience more enjoyable for you as well.Tutor value best part-time job

Being a tutor allows you to share the knowledge and wisdom you’ve gained so far in life

People who are a few steps behind you on the ladder of life will benefit greatly from the life lessons and academic achievements that you have already passed through. Learners may see you as a mentor and adviser. You can use your own experience to give them tips and advice on studying, managing stress, a study-fun balance and more!

Tutoring allows you to help others and make a difference in their lives

You will gain a great deal of personal satisfaction from being a positive force in the life of a learner and possibly a role model too. When your learner improves their marks, and gains a more positive attitude, you will feel like you’ve achieved something great. You surely have, as the impact you have made affects the academic future and ultimately, the life options of the learner. Make a difference as a tutor part-time job

Being a tutor improves your relationship-building skills and gains you friendships

You will be dealing with a variety of clients and learners, some of whom you may naturally relate to better than others! This will develop your communication and negotiation skills, both of which are important life skills to have.

You may end up having lifelong friends among the clients and learners that you tutor.

Tutoring will give you valuable experience to add to your CV

Being a tutor, like a teacher, is an honorable job which impacts the lives of others. You are required to demonstrate not only academic skills, but also responsibility, reliability, planning and commitment, which are all very valuable skills to potential employers in any field.

You will also be able to get valuable references from your clients if you deliver a great service, as well as from your tutoring company.Improve learners lives tutor part-time job

Being a tutor gives you flexibility

You can choose the days and times that fit into your schedule more so than most other part-time jobs, making this a job that fits into your schedule and doesn’t encroach on your study and leisure time as much as other part-time jobs, like being a waiter or cashier.

Tutor at a great hourly rate

Tutoring is a great way to earn income, at a much higher hourly rate than minimum wage. An hour of tutoring a week will allow you to earn the same amount as several hours’ in another part-time job. If you need a little extra income in your budget, tutoring regularly will give that to you without sacrificing a huge amount of time.

 

If you want a part-time job, and would love to experience all the benefits of tutoring, apply now to BrightSparkz Tutors and join the team!

 

Written by: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer

5 Helpful Responses To Your Child’s Report Card

How to respond to your child’s report

Report card

It’s that time of year – the much anticipated (or dreaded) school report card will be coming home soon. As a parent, it’s often difficult to know how to respond to poor results, and how you do may impact your child more than you realize. Here are 5 helpful responses to your child’s report card: 

1. Talk to your child’s teacher 

If your child performed poorly in a certain subject, and you aren’t sure why, contact their teacher to ascertain whether this is due to not understanding the concepts, or some other aspect. You could also ask for an idea of how their peers performed, and where they rank on this scale. 

Social issues, learning problems or even something as simple as needing glasses could be affecting your child’s grades, and their teacher should be able to provide insight into this. 

2. Talk to your child Talk to your child about their report

Maybe they hate the subject, or don’t understand the teacher. Maybe they are being bullied, or don’t like their school or classmates. You will gain far more from talking to your child to understand what is going on in their lives and minds. Above all, do not disregard their feelings. Talk to them about how you could work together to improve their grades. 

 

3. Re-evaluate your own expectations 

If your child has one B on an otherwise straight-A report card, this may not be the issue you think it is. Are you being too hard on your child? You want the best for them, and for their future, which is why you push them, but be sure you don’t push them to the point of burnout. 

4. Reward your child Reward your child

Your child worked hard, and deserves praise for their achievements. Highlight areas where you are proud of their achievements, and celebrate with them in some small way – this could be taking them for an ice cream, or to see a movie, or just some quality time. Children want you to be proud of them, and will work hard for this, so make sure they know that you are. 

5. Arrange extra support 

BrightSparkz can help!

If your child is facing any kind of academic difficulties, they may need extra support. Contact BrightSparkz Tutors to arrange for a private, personalized tutor, or to arrange a session with our Edu-Coach to better understand why your child is struggling. Your child may need assistance in writing exams, such as a reader/scribe, or they may be lacking study skills that could be resulting in poor exam results. Whatever the reason, BrightSparkz offers a range of services that will help your child succeed. Contact us today! 

 

 

Written by: Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Contributor

Holiday Tutoring WILL Give Your Child the Edge!

School's out - how to make the holidays productiveAre your children daydreaming about the fast-approaching school holidays? Late nights, lazy mornings in bed, spending time with their friends, and most of all – freedom from homework! Perhaps you are looking forward to not fighting the traffic for a few weeks, not preparing school lunches or making sure uniforms are ironed and no after-school pick up drama? We imagine all of the above! We also know that holiday tutoring and how to get the right tutor are not the most popular or important things on your (or your child’s) mind right now, but we’re going to try to change that!

The school holidays give children a much-needed break from day-long learning and routine, and are a definite necessity in the life of every child. It allows them time to recharge, have fun and be a child! However, this can be a time to really take advantage of your child’s available time for their own good.

If your child is excelling at school, and there is no room for improvement, you are indeed fortunate and probably the envy of most parents of school-aged learners. However, for many children, a complete brain shutdown over the holidays is not as good an idea as parents may think. Studies have shown that learners, particularly young children, display a dip in their academic abilities after extended periods of relaxation, such as long holidays.

Once back at school, learners are expected to continue on the same, if not a higher level (due to them having had a break), but, teachers do notice a significant downward shift in all subjects, as well as in reading and handwriting levels – all at an even weaker level than prior to the break. Learners (and their parents) can expect it to take a week or two to get back into the swing of things again, and for academic performance to be restored.

Help your child avoid the post-holiday academic dip!

Young minds need to be continuously stimulated. Children will find something to do with their holidays, but the question is: Are these activities going to benefit them, or simply allow for academic regress? Holiday tutoring can ensure that your child avoids the post-holiday academic dip. 

 

Here’s how a Holiday Tutoring Program can give your child the edge:

  1. It keeps a general structure

Although we may sometimes resent it, we all need structure in our lives, and children even more so. Without it, a certain level of anxiety can begin to set in, as too much unpredictability is uncomfortable for most people. Learners go from a strict and organized schedule of classes, tests, homework, sport and extracurricular activities, to weeks of screens, games and mobile devices, sleeping in, and countless hours to fill.

A holiday tutor will ensures that the academic realm of life is still under control. It also allows for the other 80% of the holiday time to be enjoyed as resting time, knowing that someone constructive and stimulating has been accomplished. It leads to the satisfaction of “keeping on top of things” instead of subconscious stressing time – knowing that the break will soon end and that they are not at all ready for the new workload that awaits them.

Giving your child the opportunity of tutoring 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 basic building blocks. I recall from my own Maths struggles at school, as soon as you’ve missed a set of basics, it is nearly impossible to make sense of anything that comes after that!

Whether your child has missed a few days of school, or has had little understanding up to a point, holidays are a great time to catch up on concepts and fill in the gaps. Once the new term commences, there will then be even more new work to get to grips with.

3. It gives learners the time they need to process information

Without the pressure of class tests and assessments constantly creeping up on them, the break allows learners to feel as though they have the time to spend fully grasping various concepts.

Additionally, because children are generally more relaxed in the holidays, they retain more information and have time to process it before moving right onto something new, as is most often the case at school.

  1. It allows learning to happen at the BEST time

Extra lessons normally take place after a full day at school, when very often a learner is already so drained that all they want to do is something mindless such as kicking a ball or watching TV. There are unfortunately only so many hours in a day, especially during the term, which makes it difficult to schedule tutoring at any other time, but that’s what makes the holidays such an ideal time for tutoring! Learners can have lessons in the morning when minds are fresh and able to process and retain new information, much more effectively. 

  1. It helps to alleviate test and exam anxietyStudy Skills Crash Course

Most people have some degree of test-related anxiety, often due to feeling unprepared. Tests make up a large part of a learner’s grade, and it is therefore essential that they can perform in this area. A holiday tutor can use the time to not only help your child prepare for future tests and exams, but also to improve on study skills. BrightSparkz also offers a unique “Study Skills Crash Course”, designed specifically for our learners in order to highlight the most important tips and advice for each learner’s individual learning style. This one is not to be missed!

  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 all year round. When your child is sent home with holiday homework and assignments, it can be a challenge finding time to help them get this done.

Thank goodness for tutors, who can not only make sure that the holiday work is completed, but also that your child understands the content of the work. It’s a no-brainer! 

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

Tutors are great motivators who inspire and encourage their learners to constantly try to 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 and keep them motivated? This allows your child to start the new term feeling inspired and driven to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.

  1. It teaches learners to step-up to challenges

Holiday tutoring is not mandatory, so learners who spend a bit of extra time on their academics during the holidays are learning the value of taking charge and responsibility, as opposed to being a victim of their academic struggles. This is also an opportunity to improve on average marks and put in the time to push for that distinction. This is of great importance for Grade 11 and 12 learners who desire a place in a tertiary institution or course of choice.

Holiday tutoring instils discipline, and teaches the value of doing what others won’t, to achieve what others don’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, even before they see the fruits when they receive their first tests back!

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 seeking the help of a tutor. However, tutoring is extremely beneficial to every kind of child – whether they are a failing student desperate to pass, or an average one chasing distinctions.

“Research suggests that 1 hour, 2 – 3 times per week is an effective way of helping children catch up, maintain or even excel in their academics, especially if they are given one-on-one input. This is the best way to ensure they get the most out of their education”.

 How BrightSparkz can help you 

  • Private Tutoring

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

Contact us about our holiday tutors today!

Our tutors are unique individuals, who are hand-picked by our experienced team of consultants. based on their specific strengths in their chosen subjects.  They not only have excellent subject knowledge, but also a passion for tutoring and helping learners reach their potential! Get a tutor today!

 

  • BrightSparkz Mobile Maths & Science (Maths & Science App)

BrightSparkz Online is an award-winning online Maths & Science App tailored to South African learners from Grades 8 – 12. It covers all content for Maths, Natural Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, and is suitable for both CAPS and IEB syllabi. The platform provides top quality resources broken up into manageable sections, and is an excellent way to supplement your child’s one-on-one lessons as it’s something they have unlimited access to, once registered for just R499 for the year. Get your 7-day fee trial here!

  • Study Skills Crash Course!

BrightSparkz Tutors now has its own Educoach, Lauren, who runs a tailored one-on-one Study Skills Crash Course, comprising 2 x 1 hour sessions, and based on each learner’s individual learning styles. Lauren has over 10 years in the education industry, having taught a variety of subjects and grades to learners of varying capability. This is a hugely valuable service that we encourage all parents to sign their children up for – and holidays are the perfect time! For more information or to book, click here or contact edupsych@brightsparkz.co.za.

If a holiday tutor sounds like just what you need, BrightSparkz Tutors can help. Take advantage of our Holiday Tutoring Promotion (15% off any 5 or 10 Classic Lesson Package – T&C’s apply) – Just click here, provide us with your details, and we’ll get right back to you!

Written By: Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Blog Writer

How to Write an Essay

We all know the basics of how to write an essay and most of us are pretty confident in our abilities to write a decent essay. However, there are certain points that are easily forgotten and let’s not forget those annoying little mistakes that sneak their way in and take away marks. Our tutors have offered us a recap of effective essay writing and clarification on a few errors that are easily fixed.

What is the difference between a discursive and argumentative essay?

Discursive Essays: Discuss different views of one particular topic. Every point FOR should have a point AGAINST. It is important not to communicate your own opinion in discursive essays so stay away from using the words “I” and “me”. Be as objective as possible.

Argumentative Essays: Are an argument either for or against something.

The Writing Structure

Introduction

The introduction is specifically for introducing the topic that your essay will discuss. At varsity level, your introduction should briefly state the aspects of the topic that you will be writing but it won’t hurt to start doing this in high school. For example, if you are writing an essay discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty, then you will introduce what the death penalty is. You will then state, very briefly, the aspects of the death penalty that you will be discussing.

In an argumentative essay – State what you are arguing in the introduction and give a brief explanation of how you will validate your argument.

In a discursive essay – State what you are discussing and the different views that relate to the topic.

Body

The body of the essay should be the bulk of your writing.

Argumentative Essay – The body of your essay should have one paragraph per point that you make. Then each point must be emphasised and tie back to the introduction.

Discursive Essay – For every point that you make FOR something, you need to make a point AGAINST. Try not to convey any feelings of bias. Use words and phrases such as: However, this said, contrary to, and so on.  You should have one point for and one point against for every paragraph. These two points need to relate to one another in some way and every paragraph needs to relate back to the main topic.

Conclusion

Your conclusion sums up everything that you have discussed in the body of your essay; you MUST NOT make any new points or arguments in your conclusion. Some essays may require you to voice your own opinion in the conclusion but only do this when required.

Other NB Things to Remember

  • Always write short and concise sentences rather than long and pretty ones! While high English may seem like a good idea, essays are most convincing when sentences are short and to the point. Rather make one long sentence into two shorter ones! If you can, then use a period instead of a comma. The same goes for wording; if you can use one word instead of three, then do so.
  • Do not use the word “however” too often. Rather mix it up with; “this said”, “in relation to the above”, “as aforementioned”, “while so and so said this, X and Y said this” and any other similar examples that you can come up with. Varsities are especially strict on this!
  • Do not use word contractions; rather write out the two words. Write, “Do not” instead of “don’t” and “is not” instead of “isn’t”.
  • Never start a sentence with the words, “but” or “and”.
  • Don’t use the same word twice in a paragraph to explain or refer to the same thing
  • Write in the active voice rather than the passive wherever possible.
  • Validate every “fact” that you make (where did you get it from, why is this true?)
  • Book titles are italicised and poem names are in inverted comma
  • Do not use two words together that mean the same thing – this is redundant. How many times have you heard someone say, “I need to enter my PIN number.” PIN is an acronym for personal identification number; so, in the statement quoted above, the word “number” is redundant. Some other examples include ATM machine, HPV virus and ACT test.
  • State what “it” is. Don’t assume the reader knows
  • Eliminate comma splices: When a sentence includes a comma separating two distinct thoughts, it is referred to as a comma splice. If the two parts of the sentence will each stand independently, use a period instead of a comma. If the parts are loosely associated and together from a complete thought, use a semicolon.
  • Do not confuse “who” and “whom”: “Who” and “whoever” are subjective pronouns; “whom” and “whomever” are in the objective case. This means that “who” (and the same for “whoever”) is always subject to a verb, and that “whom” (and the same for “whomever”) is always the object in a sentence. The two sentences below illustrate the easy usage in which “who” is clearly the subject and “whom” is clearly the object. In such simple cases, virtually everyone can determine the proper choice:

If you are still not 100% sure how to write an essay, our tutors are available to help you.

Happy writing 🙂

Top 10 Universities in South Africa

Which are the best universities in South Africa?

Many learners may feel unsure about where to enroll for their tertiary education. We have compiled a list of South Africa’s top 10 best Universities. We have assembled this list according to much research, Africa.com, student opinions, reviews and the reputable Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

According to www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, “The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.”

Additionally, Africa.com collected both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which of the many universities in South Africa make the top 10 list. A variety of criteria were considered including the following: a) undergraduate and graduate school reputation among higher education peers; b) student selectivity for entering undergraduate class; c) quality and quantity of faculty research, including depth of research facilities and engagement beyond immediate community, and d) international student ratio—the degree to which institution draws students from outside of its national boundaries.

While no one university is a perfect fit for everyone, I do hope that this list provides some helpful and important information when deciding where to study.

1.) University of Cape Town (UCT) University Of Cape Town

Established in 1829, UCT is South Africa’s oldest university and makes a frequent appearance on yearly varsity ‘best’ lists such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list. The university is considered the top research institution on the continent, with more “A” rated researchers than any other South African university. It is the highest ranked African university in both the QS World and the Times Higher Education world university rankings. According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, UCT places at number 124.

Other than offering the best sports management diploma in the world (as recently bestowed by the Edunivarsal International Scientific Committee), UCT is also considered one of the country’s most environmentally friendly universities. Over the past five years a number of sustainability projects were launched, including Green Campus Initiative, an effort focused on making UCT more environmentally-friendly.

Notable alumni include heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard and at least three Nobel Laureates, including biophysicist Sir Aaron Klug (also a WITS alum), the late Professor Alan MacLeod Cormack, and author JM Coetzee.

2.) University of the Witwaterstrand (WITS) Johannesburg

Wits is considered to be one of the top research universities on the continent and boasts 20 South African Research Chairs, seven research institutes and 20 research units. Just less than 900 academic staff members accommodate over 30,000 students, ten percent of whom are international students.

According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, WITS places between numbers 251 – 275.

WITS University has one of the largest fossil collections in the Southern Hemisphere, 14 museums, 2 art galleries, and 12 libraries.
Noteworthy alumni include former South African President Nelson Mandela (he studied law in the 1940s), political activist Helen Suzman, former judge Richard Goldstone, and businessman Patrice Motsepe. The university is also the alma mater of three other Nobel Prize Laureates; biophysicist Aaron Klug, biologist Sydney Brenner, and author Nadine Gordimer.

3.) Stellenbosch University, Western Cape Stellenbosch University

Located near beautiful wine regions; Stellenbosch University has been deemed one of the top research universities in the country. 28,000 students are taught by 915 lecturers and close to 10 percent of those admitted are international students. Providing accomplished tutors. According to the most recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, the University of Stellenbosch places between numbers 276 – 300

The University’s own iShack system was developed to improve the living situations of those living in informal settlements through the use of a basic solar energy system. The initiative was recently awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help upscale the project. With a strong emphasis of research throughout all departments, its Desmond Tutu TB Centre recently won an international prize for its research on childhood tuberculosis (TB) and its community-based approach to TB and HIV care.

4.) Rhodes University, Eastern Cape

Whist one of the smaller universities, comprising of only 7,000 students, Rhodes University is one of the most diverse, since roughly one quarter of its students are international. Due to its small student base, the student to teacher / tutor ratio is more favourable at one lecturer to about 15 students.

According to the official Rhodes University website, all of its degrees are internationally recognised and the university’s International Library of African Music (ILAM) is said to the “greatest repository of African music in the world”. Additionally, the university’s school of Journalism and Media Studies is thought to be one of the best in the country.
Notable Rhode students include virologist Max Theiler (who was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a yellow fever vaccine), author Wilbur Smith, and internationally recognised journalist Anand Naidoo.

5.) University of Pretoria, Pretoria University of Pretoria

Also considered one of the leading research universities in South Africa, UP offers more than 1,800 programmes at its main campus and hosts more than 50,000 students.

It has the highest research output in South Africa, a position it has held proudly since 1997 and in September last year, the university launched a new research initiative focused on the country’s future energy security, IRT on Energy. It’s also set to become the first university on the continent to offer simulated underground mining training at a Virtual Reality Centre. UP is also home to the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), one of the country’s foremost Business Schools, which offers internationally credited MBA programmes. The university was recently named the top business school in Africa on the UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings list.

6.) University of the Free State, Bloemfontein University of Free State

The University is comprised of three campuses spread across the city, and hosts more than 33,000 students, including more than 2,000 from abroad.

UFS prides itself on its 7 accredited Academic clusters, 107 NRF-accredited professors and 18 international research partnerships. The University has also paved the way in forward-thinking, from being the first university in the country to have a Department of Sign Language, and the only institution on the continent that offers a postgraduate programme in Disaster Management.

Noteworthy alumni include, Former South African president P.W. Botha, as well as cricketer Hansie Cronje and author Antjie Krog.

7.) University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Hosting over 42,000 students and 1,600 staff, this university is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 2,500 of its students are foreign, having come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), China and India.
Its medical school campus is home to CAPRISA, one of the largest and most effective HIV and AIDS research centres in South Africa. It also produced one of the highest university research outputs during 2010, ranking third overall, and thereby contributing close to 12 percent of the country’s research publications by major universities.
Notable alumni include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Chief Justice Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng, and businessman Sol Kerzner.

8.) University of Western Cape, Cape Town University of Western Cape

During the years of Apartheid, the University of the Western Cape was where many non-white political activists from across the country were able to get an education. Now, 50 years since its establishment, the university hosts 15,000 students of all nationalities and cultures.

Earlier this year, the university achieved the inaugural Green Campus of the Year award for its many environmentally-friendly enterprises, including its recycling projects and the use of solar powered golf carts for campus workers to get around. UWC is also dedicated to the research and development of free and open-source software. It is the only African member of the Open Courseware Consortium.

Political activist Allan Boesak, and Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, have both graduated from UWC.

9.) University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg has four campuses located across the city and caters to just more than 48,000 students, of which 2,000 are international. The university places great importance on research and has over 20 research centres and around 90 rated researchers. Research has improved greatly, most especially in areas of life sciences, physical sciences, literature, language and linguistics, as well as management science and business commerce.

10.) Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town

CPUT has just over 32,000 students enrolled on its two campuses, one in Cape Town CBD and the other in Bellville. CPUT is known for its take in creative, more specialist areas of study and for its practical, hands-on approach to education. This is a beneficial and worth-while consideration for those who are not strictly academically inclined.

Brightsparkz is proud to have tutors from UCT, WITS, Stellenbosch, and the universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg. We also have tutors from UWC, CPUT, and UKZN as well. Find out more about our tutors.

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. Rewriting your Matric is 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 in June each year. 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 rewriting your Matric. 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

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

Tutor Tips – How to Make the Most of Your Tutoring Session

How to Make the Most of Your Tutoring Sessions

As tutors, we are accustomed to the individual needs of each learner. We know that each learner understands and retains information in unique ways. As such, it is important to know how to make the most of each tutoring session. In this way, we are able to get the most use of the time provided, for the learner as well as ourselves.

Prior to the first tutoring session

• Arrange a meeting with the learner’s parent(s) to determine the goals of the learner and the parents
• Find out why the learner requires a tutor
• Become familiar with the learner’s interests
• Diagnose the learner’s difficulties (if any)

Having a lesson plan and goals can be vital for saving time and making the most of each tutoring session

• Set goals for the session based on the learner’s development
• Create an instructional lesson
• Provide resource materials and exercises
• Construct a review activity to check on goals achieved and previously taught work
• Construct a suitable set of exercises (homework) for the student to complete before the next tutoring session

When conducting the tutoring sesson

• Be on time!
• Create a positive environment for you and the learner
• Sit beside the learner and not across
• Start with a review of the objectives and go over information from previous sessions
• Discuss the lesson plan and then involve the learner as soon as possible
• When checking work, let the learner make the corrections with your guidance. Avoid answering for the learner wherever possible
• Listen carefully to the learner’s explanations and responses
• Keep your learner informed about his or her progress during the session and regularly make sure that the learner understands what you are teaching
• Making the lesson fun will improve learner involvement and promote learning
• End the tutoring session on a positive note!
If you have any further suggestions or would like to add some information on feel free to leave a comment below.

Written by Kristin Naude – BrightSparkz Maths and English Tutor