Why it pays to take Grade 11 as seriously as Matric

Throughout one’s school career Grade 12 – Matric – is viewed as the ultimate year, the year in which you have to account for what you learned in the decade before, and the year whose results will follow you for the rest of your life. But what learners and parents don’t realise, is that Grade 11 can arguably be considered as important, if not more so, than one’s final year, an education expert says.

“There are at least five reasons why Grade 11 learners should take this year very seriously, and put as much effort into it as they will next year,” says Dr Felicity Coughlan, Director of The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.

She says the penultimate school year is a significant one because it provides:


“The effort you put into Grade 11 can be considered as insurance should something go awry in the future,” says Dr Coughlan.

“There are an increasing number of institutions that make provisional offers based on your Grade 11 results, and many will still admit you even if your Grade 12 is a little less strong. But if your results in Grade 11 are weak, you have nothing to fall back on.”

2)      EXAM FOCUS

Teachers set Grade 11 exams to mimic the format and complexity of grade 12, says Dr Coughlan.

“That means that taking your Grade 11 exams seriously will help you understand how you are doing and how ready you will be for your final exams. It helps you to work out where you need to apply more focus.

“This year’s exams provide a measure of where you are, and should be treated as part of your preparation for your finals.”


Dr Coughlan says that Grade 11 allows some time for experimenting before crunch-time arrives.

“Learn new study methods and stress management methods, and experiment with things you have not done before, like study groups and mind maps. Finding a variety of study techniques and approaches that work for you will allow you to enter Grade 12 with a revision system that will make you perform at your best.”


If you keep good track of how long it takes you to master different kinds of work, that will allow you to draw up an accurate study plan next year.

“Knowing your pace of work means you will be able to revise with enough time allocated right from the start, so that you don’t run out of days before you run out of work to revise.”


Assessing their Grade 11 results and performance empower learners to make better decisions about their post-school direction, including about which options are available to them, what courses to apply for and where.

“Learners should start working out their ‘points’ for higher education entrance from Grade 10,” says Dr Coughlan.

“This means they should thoroughly research the courses they want to study and the results they need for their application to be accepted. In Grade 11, learners are then able to monitor how realistic their aspirations are and where they need to do more work, which will reduce uncertainty when applying.”

Matric does not start in your last year of school, Dr Coughlan says.

“Matric is not a year-long event, but rather a two-year long project. If you start applying your mind to your final exams right now and take the long view coupled with a strategy, you will be able to deliver your absolute best when you sit for your finals in a year and a half’s time, and significantly improve your chances of being able to follow your dream post-Matric.”

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