'I got my tips in the prelims' - top IEB matriculant

One of the top achievers in matric at St John’s College in Johannesburg says he was able to ace his exams by focusing on what the prelims were testing.
Matthew Whyte One of the top achievers in matric at St John’s College in Johannesburg says he was able to ace his exams by focusing on what the prelims were testing.
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One of the top achievers in matric at St John’s College in Johannesburg says he was able to ace his exams by focusing on what the prelims were testing.

Matthew Whyte‚ 18‚ from Featherbrooke Estate in the West Rand achieved nine distinctions in the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) results released on Wednesday.

Whyte admitted that he did not study extensively long beforehand.

“I must be honest. I’m not the most diligent in terms of studying well in advance. I started studying for my first exam on October 11. I started studying two weeks in advance‚ going through all of my subjects.

“The best thing was that from my preliminary exams‚ I made a lot of notes for subjects. Prelims gave me a very good taste of what the finals would be like. When it came to studying for the finals‚ I didn’t have much to do‚” Whyte said.

He also emphasised the role that his teachers played in his success.

“Teachers not only help you understand the content but they also help create the interest [on the subject]. For me‚ my maths teacher… was very good at creating the interest in the classroom. That is the most important thing. You are engaging the subject. She got us to engage and got the class to have an interest in what we were doing. My teachers at St John’s have played a vital role in my studies. They all have a passion for what they do‚” he said.

But it was not just the teachers that made the difference; his family was also very supportive and cut his chores to enable him to focus on his studies.

“I still had to do a few chores but not too much. Cleaning the pool was one of them. But during exams I was given a lot of leeway to study.”

Whyte said his favourite subjects were mathematics‚ physics‚ chemistry and information technology. “I’m a scientific kind of person. Any subject that involves mathematics grabs my attention.”

But he said biology did not give him the same thrill as mathematics. “I’m quite a perfectionist when it comes to writing exams. For me‚ biology had quite a few time constraints. That was not my favourite subject - or maybe I should say I enjoyed it the least.”

Whyte is planning to remain at St John’s to do A-levels‚ which is essentially a British matric. This will allow him to enrol in any of the UK universities.

After obtaining this qualification‚ Whyte wants to study either computer science or electrical engineering.

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