What the IGCSE’s Taught Me
Our top achiever in the 2020 IGCSE’s recounts her experience and shares some advice with future candidates:
“A famous author once wrote “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” That author was Alan Alexander Milne, the creator of the “Bear of Very Little Brain”. A bear who would sit around all day, doing absolutely nothing but he enjoyed every second of it. So, if there was one thing I learned in the 2-year course that is IGCSE, it was that I needed to relax more, to take everything in my stride and to not worry so much about the little things. To take everything step-by-step, day-by-day, and before you know it, you’ll be running.
I remember in Year 9, when the concept of IGCSE was first introduced, everything became overwhelming. I found it tremendously difficult in the beginning. At first, I wasn’t able to grasp most of the concepts for certain subjects and I was very confused most of the time. I’d never say anything though because no-one in my class ever seemed like they were having trouble, so I assumed it was just me struggling. Thankfully I had my friends, parents and teachers to tell me otherwise. My previous idea of studying consisted of working all day at school, then coming home and doing the same thing. It took a lot to make me realise that this wasn’t going to work for me anymore.
So, by Year 10, I changed the way I studied. I stopped studying for long hours on end and began working for shorter periods of time with a little too many breaks. I found that I study better when I’m relaxed and not putting any pressure on myself. I study consistently through the year and study in moderation. In class, I told myself that I was going to start asking as many questions as it took for me to understand because understanding a concept makes remembering it easier. I’d try to make notes for my subjects in a separate book, to make them clear and orderly on paper hoping it would appear that way in head as well. I found the use of different highlighter colours made certain sections of information easier to recall during an exam because it had a colour associated to it. I tried my best in class to understand the concept first before I made notes on it so that when I did, all I had to do was solidify the ideas onto paper. My dad would make fun of my highlighters saying , “At school all I had was a pen, one that wrote if I was lucky.” But I’d like to think that it was the highlighters and the stacks of cue cards with equations that helped me retain the information better. I realised it was also very important to take care of myself first before my schoolwork, through staying healthy and remembering that school is not all there is to focus on. For me , staying relaxed, calm and enjoying my childhood would be my top priority. Getting all A’s was unexpected , my goal is simply to do the best I can.
“The forest through the trees” is something my parents would have me repeat to myself. It reminded me to look at the bigger picture and focus on the important things. Stressing about the small tests and assignments wasn’t going to do anything except burn me out before the race was even over.
My advice to other students would be: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe “ – Rifqah Price, Year 11 Blouberg International School South Africa