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Studying tips: How to excel during exams

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Studying for exams is never fun, but you can make the process easier for yourself whilst scoring the grades you are after. We have selected six studying tips that could come in handy.

1. Strategise

Work strategically, set yourself clear goals, and work towards these. Organize your studying schedule, stick to it by minimizing procrastination, and manage your time by using the following time management tips.

2. Study here and there

Scientists claim that one's memory is to a large extent coloured by circumstances like studying location. They say that changing your study location, for instance from the library to a coffee shop or home, increases the likelihood of remembering what you've learned.

3. Switch in between subjects

Immersion into one subject for hours on end, followed by immersing yourself into the next subject for long stretches of time, is not an effective study method. Researchers advise you to switch between subjects to keep the brain wide awake whilst keeping boredom at bay.

4. Take breaks

When you get tired, rest your brain. There is no point of studying when your brain is tired and stressed. Take regular breaks from your books by having a nap or going for a walk. A tired mind is after all a slow mind.

5. Practice makes master

Prepare by practising on old exams, if these are available. This will help you to get used to the format of the questions and the time frame.

6. Exam breakfast

You will perform much better during your exams when you have fuelled your body (and brain), so don't skip breakfast. Opt for brain food and drink lots of water. Being well-hydrated is essential for your brain to work


- Follow the author @miriammannak



Exam time: Brain food for students

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You are what you eat, and this is particularly valid when it;s exam time. Whilst your scores largely depend on how well you have studied, the correct nutrition can certainly help your brain's performance.

1) Fatty fish

Your brain is mainly made up of fatty membranes. Eating the rights fats such as omega-3 fatty acids is crucial. Think salmon, tuna, sardines and other fatty fish, either tinned or fresh

2) Nuts

Vegetarians in need of omega-3's can pig out on nuts and seeds. Walnuts are the best. Apart from omega-3's, they contain protein and vitamin B6. On a budget? Sunflower seeds in addition contain thiamine for memory and tryptophan which your brain converts to serotonin (a feel good hormone which helps prevent depression and insomnia).

2) Protein

Your body needs protein to function optimally. Great sources include meat, poultry and fish as well as almonds, walnuts, tofu, cheese, beans, seeds and eggs. Women need ±46 grams of protein and men 56 grams. That equals to a 200-250 gram chicken breast.

3) Fruit

Fruit high in vitamin C, fibre, and water will help your memory whilst keeping your immune system in check. Think oranges, naartjies, blueberries and pawpaw.

4) Green leafy veggies

Green leafy veggies such as spinach are cheap, easy to add to sandwiches, salads and other meals and are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6. These are all essential to keep your brain healthy and happy.

5) Green tea

Green tea gives you a caffeine and energy kick whilst providing you with all sorts of anti-oxidants that are good for your body. It is a good alternative for coffee, and often cheaper too.

6) Eggs

Eggs, apart from being a good source of protein, contain cholin. Your brain needs this to maintain its motor function.


College of Law adopting a cautious approach to LLB reform

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Prof R Songca, Executive Dean (centre, pink shirt) with some of the students that attended the Polokwane leg of the 2014 Student Indaba

Management and staff at Unisa’s College of Law are keeping a wary eye on proposed changes to the South African LLB. College of Law Executive Dean, Professor R Songca revealed this on April 30th during the latest Student Indaba organised in Polokwane.

Extensive and divided debates on the effectiveness of the LLB degree are currently taking place at institutions of higher learning across South Africa. Professor Songca told students attending the Indaba that although the college is waiting on the outcome of discussions at the Council for Higher Education “we cannot just wake up one morning and say we are doing away with LLB for undergraduates.” She went on to say that while the conversation on the future of the LLB is not easy “it has serious implications for our people, youth and for our nation.”

Surrounded by the nodding heads of colleagues accompanying her, Professor Songca added that the College had consulted members of the profession and would soon improve on its practical legal training course as well as the moot court and street law projects.

It was also announced that EUP1501 will be replaced with a new module named ‘Social dimensions of justice” from 2015 onwards. The new module will be rolled out to all law qualifications and offered fully online through myUnisa.


It is a matter of time (management)

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Students lead busy lives, with assignments, research, exams, part-time work, and other responsibilities constantly fighting over the time they have available. Do you feel the same? The tips below can help you take control of your life.

1) Check list

Make a list of things that need to be done today (daily), this week and this month. Having your deadlines in front of you will help you tackle them. Cross items off as you go along. Seeing deadline after deadline being ticked off, is an excellent productivity driver.

2) Prioritise

Not sure how you will meet all your obligations today? Then prioritise. What is important NOW? What could wait until tomorrow? If nothing can wait, then be prepared to burn the midnight hour. It happens to the best of us. Prioritising also means that you'll have to be prepared to say 'no' to your friends occasionally.

3) Stop procrastinating

What takes away from what you need to do? Are you spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter? Playing online games too often? Perhaps it is time to implement a 'procrastination allowance', by giving yourself 15 minutes every even hour to check your social media channels. Use an egg timer, switch off the notifications on your phone.

4) Reward yourself

When you have met a deadline, reward yourself. Take an extra 30 minutes for social media, have a nap, or do whatever floats your boat. Don’t do it in excess as you don't want your reward to steal away from the time you are trying to save.

5) Sleep

Feeling like a zombie because you didn't get enough sleep it detrimental to your time-management attempts. A good night sleep will help you focus and deal with your deadlines and obligations more efficiently.  - Follow the author on @miriammannak

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 April 2014 08:41

Alumnus interview: Justice Edwin Cameron

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Justice Edwin Cameron's latest book, "Justice : A Personal Account", was published in February 2014. He made time to speak to Matshelane Mamabolo for about his experience as a student at Unisa where he obtained his LLB (cum laude).

1. Tell us about yourself?

I am a judge in South Africa's highest court, the Constitutional Court. It is an interesting and challenging position, one that brings some stress and occasional headaches, but, more importantly, much fulfilment. I am also living with HIV, on successful ARV treatment, a campaigner for prevention and treatment, and against stigma and prejudice, a proudly and openly gay man, a godparent to many children, and a devoted cyclist.

2. Describe your most enjoyable moment as a Unisa student?

The best moments for me were the student groups. We met both formally and informally to discuss our study material, and to share the difficulties we, as part-time students, were experiencing in mastering our Unisa courses. I made friendships through my Unisa studies that endure to this day.

3. Describe your least enjoyable moment as a Unisa student?

Sometimes I found studying by correspondence isolating - which could be dismal and disheartening. Also, at that time the law faculty examined by requiring detailed rote-learning of the study guides. I hope that has changed.

4. How has your experience as a student at Unisa subsequently helped to set you apart?

I think I learnt determination and focus and the ability to sit long hours alone, concentrating and pushing towards a goal.

5. Your best advice for current students?

Our country craves skilled, critical-thinking, sceptical, committed, focused, well-educated people. Unisa is still one of the finest institutions in our country that is helping to provide broader access to tertiary education. So I say, work hard, take heart that others have made it before you, despite hardships, and across the same obstacles. So look forward to the time when you will be improving our country with your Unisa qualification.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 16:50

Accidents happen and bad luck strikes: get insured

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One of the downsides of being a student comes in the disguise of a tight budget. As a result, insurance is often not treated as a priority. However, being protected against health problems, the implications of traffic accidents and other issues is crucial.


Getting a medical aid is a non-negotiable. That you are healthy now doesn't mean you will never need to see a doctor. Besides, accidents happen, they happen all the time, and they happen to everyone. Even the smallest fracture as a result of a traffic collision could cost you, when uninsured, tens of thousands of rands in surgery and specialist costs. Various medical aid companies have low-cost plans for students, including Momentum and One Plan.


Do you own a car? Do yourself a favour and get insurance, even if it is just Third Party Liability insurance. This covers you when causing damage to someone else's vehicle. More comprehensive insurance covers you against issues such as fire damage, hail storms, hijacking, and intentional damage.


Have you ever asked yourself how you would replace your material possessions, such as text books, laptop, camera and phone, in case your house burns down? What about when someone breaks into your home? Household content insurance protects you from having to fork out thousands of rands to make up for the loss. You can also insure just your most valuable belongings including your phone, camera, laptop and other equipment.


Insurance doesn't come for free. However, our motto is: rather pay a couple of hundred of rands you do have, instead of having to pay tens of thousands of rands you don't have. For budgeting tips, see our previous story .

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 09:56
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