Using technology to study

Technology is a part of our everyday lives, and we use it to do a variety of things. In this blog post, we will discuss using technology to study. We consider technology to include:

  • Devices, such as smart phones or MP3 players
  • The Internet (including social media)
  • Computer programmes, such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Instant messaging (including WhatsApp and email)

Technology can be used in diverse and interesting ways and its use can be adapted to suit all of the different learning styles. This makes it an exciting addition to your study and exam revision routine. Before you start figuring out ways to include some of these tips in your own exam revision, please use caution in the following ways:

  • Ensure that you have your parents’ permission to use the Internet and/or family computer for this purpose (ask them to read this blog post about keeping you safe on the Internet).
  • Be picky about what you do include in your exam revision Not every tip that is suggested here is going to work for you. If you don’t have much time to experiment, rather pick one or two things for now and stick what you know works.
  • Ensure that the effort is worth the result. It’s no use spending four hours researching a topic that will count for only 2 marks in your exam…
  • Ensure that you stay focused while you are using the Internet or social media to study. It’s very easy to get distracted.

With that out of the way, here are some tips for using technology to study:

Create presentations for your study club

Using Microsoft PowerPoint, plus images and videos from the Internet, create a presentation that will clarify a specific topic for your study club. Split the content up amongst yourselves and set a date for the presentations, then wow your club with your knowledge while teaching them something too.

Best for: Learners with a kinaesthetic learning style

Research a topic on your own

Not sure what your teacher meant when she tried to describe something to you in class. Try to find pictures or videos that explain it to you online. These can help to solidify a concept in your mind and form a mental picture of something. This is especially useful when difficult processes are being described. For example, if you are learning about how electricity is generated and then distributed on the electricity grid, an explanatory video may help to clarify things for you.

Best for: Learners with a visual learning style

Learn ahead

Take charge of your own learning and research a topic before you cover it in class. This is a great way to get an overview of the content. It may also raise a few questions, which you can ask your teacher to explain in class. If you’re not sure what’s coming up, you can either ask your teacher to tell you, flip ahead in your textbook, look through your Ace it! study guide or download the curriculum document from the Department of Education’s website.

Best for: Learners with a kinaesthetic learning style

Create study notes that work for you

If you are tempted to write out everything you know, consider typing it out into a program like Microsoft Word. Your hand will hurt less and it will go quicker. You’ll also be able to save multiple versions so you can edit the notes down, find patterns and eventually trim the notes so that they are more manageable.

Best for: Learners with a visual learning style

Use apps on your phone to record yourself discussing the content. You can then play these back to yourself while you are at gym or travelling to school.

Best for: Learners with an auditory learning style

Learn how to use apps and software that will enable you to create interesting images and/or videos focused on the content (for example, try

Best for: Learners with a kinaesthetic learning style

Get connected

Use WhatsApp and social media to create a study club. You could also collaborate with your study club using Google Drive, if you think this will work.

Best for: Learners with a visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning style

Go paperless

You can use the calendar and scheduling apps on your smart phone, or even Google or Yahoo! calendar products to create your study timetable and to store your notes. If you are used to using a pen-and-paper diary, then by all means continue. However, if you like having everything available on your phone or computer, then this is a good option for you.

Best for: Learners with a visual learning style


Know your EMS from NS

It can feel a little overwhelming when your child enters high school. It becomes especially difficult when they have to choose the subjects they’ll be taking from Grade 10 to Grade 12. Just what is Economic and Management Sciences anyway? Here’s a quick round up of the high school subjects in the South African school system.

Economic and Management Sciences
(taken from Grade 8 to Grade 9)

EMS, as it’s known, is a subject that has elements of basic accounting, entrepreneurship, business and economics. The subject aims to encourage a sense of entrepreneurship in learners, as well as to give them a very basic understanding of common accounting documents that they are likely to come across in their lives. The subject also touches on overarching economic principles, such as supply and demand and GDP.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Economic and Management Sciences is available for Grade 8 and Grade 9, and also in Afrikaans

Social Sciences
(taken from Grade 8 to Grade 9)

A mixture of Geography and History, this is a basic introduction to South African and world history, and South African and world Geography. The subject promotes a sense of responsible citizenry and critical reading.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style

Natural Sciences
(taken from Grade 8 to Grade 9)



This subject is foundational Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The subject touches on life and living, environmental biology, electricity, work and power and more. It provides a good knowledge base for Life Sciences and Physical Sciences taken from Grade 10. Even if your learner doesn’t want to take science beyond Grade 9, this subject is valuable for understanding their world and their bodies.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style

Ace it! Natural Sciences is available for Grade 8 and Grade 9, and also in Afrikaans

(taken from Grade 8 to Grade 9)






This subject can be considered as a cross between woodwork and home economics. However, it’s much more that that. The subject aims to teach learners how design can solve everyday problems. Basic physics is incorporated as well as design skills (which relates to the design of actual products, as well as the design of presentations and proposals). This is a useful subject and learners with a kinaesthetic learning style will enjoy its hands-on approach.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Technology is available for Grade 8 and Grade 9, and also in Afrikaans

(compulsory in Grade 8 and 9; optional from Grade 10)



No introduction needed. The techniques may be slightly different, the textbooks updated but Maths is pretty much as it was when you did it in high school.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Mathematics is available for Grade 8 to Grade 12, and also in Afrikaans

Mathematical Literacy
(optional from Grade 10)

If your child decides not to take Mathematics from Grade 10, they will do Mathematical Literacy. This subject aims to give learners useful Maths and basic accounting skills that they will use throughout their lives. Important concepts covered include financial literacy (we could all use a bit more of that).

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Mathematical Literacy is available for Grade 10 to Grade 12, and also in Afrikaans

Home Language
(compulsory throughout high school)

Currently, the only Home Languages available at high school level are English and Afrikaans. Learners focus on literature, speaking, writing and listening skills.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style, auditory learning style

First Additional Language
(compulsory throughout high school)

The language that your child takes for the FAL will depend on the school. The skills covered are pretty similar to HL but adapted to suit the level of a second-language speaker.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style, auditory learning style

Ace it! English FAL is available from Grade 8 to 12

Ace it! Afrikaans FAL is available from Grade 8 to 12

Ace it! IsiZulu FAL is available from Grade 10 to 12

Life Sciences
(optional from Grade 10)











This subject was previously known as Biology.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style

Ace it! Life Sciences is available from Grade 10 to 12, and also in Afrikaans

Physical Sciences
(optional from Grade 10)











This subject includes Physics and Chemistry.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style, kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Physical Sciences is available from Grade 10 to 12, and also in Afrikaans

(optional from Grade 10)











This subject is taught in a very practical way. Learners get plenty of opportunity to learn about and use the common Accounting ledgers. The theoretical side focuses on ethics and general accounting principles.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Accounting is available from Grade 10 to 12, and also in Afrikaans

Business Studies
(optional from Grade 10)











Along with Accounting, Business Studies is a natural extension of EMS. It looks at overarching economic concepts and how businesses operate within those constraints. The subject aims to promote entrepreneurship.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: kinaesthetic learning style

Ace it! Business Studies is available from Grade 10 to 12, and also in Afrikaans

(optional from Grade 10)











As one of our most important industries, it’s no surprise that Tourism is a popular subject at high school level. Touching on many professions under the hospitality industry banner, this subject is quite theoretical. This subject plays nicely with Geography.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style, auditory learning style

Ace it! Tourism is available from Grade 10 to 12, and also in Afrikaans

(optional from Grade 10)











This subject is so much more than learning how to read a map. It touches on issues of population, settlement and environmental issues too. Updated to include advances in GPS and the latest environmental issues, this subject is a good option for your child for a wide variety of future career paths.

Learning style most likely to enjoy it: visual learning style

Ace it! Geography is available from Grade 10 to 12, and also in Afrikaans

Mind mapping

Of all of the different learning styles, the visual learning style is the best suited to traditional exam revision methods, such as mind mapping. Visual learners will respond well to these colourful summaries of the content. This is not to say that auditory learners and kinaesthetic learners shouldn’t use mind maps; they can actually be pretty effective for you too.

A bad mind map is useless and ineffective. It’s important to know how to develop them properly, or they’ll just be a waste of time and paper.

Here are some tips to help you learn how to mind map so that you don’t waste time or paper.

Firstly, gather your tools. You will need:

  • Sheets of plain paper (A3 if you can get it, otherwise A4 will do)
  • Black marker
  • Black pen
  • Different colour pens OR highlighters OR pencil crayons
  • Sticky notes

The most important thing to remember about mind mapping is that it is a way to see the main ideas/components of a section at a glance, and how those ideas are connected.

Start by reading through the section you want to summarise, and making a note of the main ideas.


Draw your mind map with these ideas in mind.

Now, read through the section again. For each of the main ideas, you should identify related ideas.

Using a black pen, jot these down on your mind map.

Now, set aside your textbook or notes and focus on what you know or remember about the content. Using different colours, make notes for yourself, write examples that illustrate the point, draw doodles that help to explain things and connect different ideas. You can also use sticky notes to add more examples or to test yourself.


Your mind map is now complete! If you are a visual learner, you can simply use your mind maps as visual reminders of the content. If you are an auditory learner or a kinaesthetic learner, use your mind map to explain the content to a friend or helpful parent or sibling.


How to ensure your child is using the Internet safely

Your first instinct as a parent is to protect your child from harm. While restricting your child’s screen time (and, most especially, their time on the Internet) makes perfect sense when your child is in pre-primary or primary school, it may not be that easy when they’re in high school.

For one thing, your child needs the Internet to do research. They may also be in a school that encourages the use of technology, including chat groups, social media, email and Internet research in class and at home.

The use of the Internet – including social media – can be a powerful educational tool for your child, especially if they have auditory learning style or a kinaesthetic learning style. In previous blog posts, we have included study tips that require the use of the Internet and, in a future blog post, we will give your child more information on how to use technology for this purpose.

But, first, let’s discuss how you can protect your child and ensure that they grow up to be responsible consumers of online media.

Don’t overestimate your child’s maturity

You have spent many years considering every aspect of your child’s upbringing and education. You worry about their table manners, their willingness to serve their community, their sportsmanship on the field… So why do so many parents neglect to teach their children basic Internet etiquette?

The Internet is a permanent feature in modern life. It’s your responsibility to teach your child some simple rules to ensure that they use it to their advantage in a responsible way. Just like you wouldn’t expect a one-year-old child to understand table manners, you cannot expect a 13-year-old to understand how to use the Internet responsibly without guidance.

Here are some points to discuss with your child:

  • Remember that what you post online becomes public, and is permanent. Think ahead and never post something that could compromise your reputation.
  • Never divulge personal details to anyone online. Personal details include your name, your address, your school, your parents’ names, your pets’ names, your birthday, any banking information or passwords and even what you look like.
  • Don’t use passwords that are too easy to figure out (i.e. passwords that use birthdays, parents’ names, surnames, pets’ names, etc.).

  • Ensure that all of your social media accounts are set to “Private” and that you carefully screen any friend or follow requests.
  • Never – under any circumstances – send a picture or video to anyone of any part of your body: naked or clothed.
  • Report abusive behaviour immediately. Online bullying is a serious problem and is just as, if not more, damaging than playground bullying.
  • On that note, don’t send nasty messages or post malicious rumours or half-truths about anyone online. This is unacceptable behaviour and can have tragic consequences.
  • Remember that what you see on social media is not an accurate reflection of someone’s life – it’s a carefully curated snapshot. Try not to compare yourself to the people you admire online. It’s much more important to live a full and happy life in the real world than to worry about your online persona!

It’s important for this to be an on-going conversation in your family. Allow your children to teach you about new and exciting technologies, apps and social media sites so that you are engaging with these and up-to-date with the latest trends. Build trust so that your child does not feel the need to hide anything from you. If you want to, you can insist that all Internet browsing is done in the family’s study, kitchen or lounge (in other words, no browsing allowed in bedrooms with closed doors).

Lastly, open an account on every platform that your child frequents (even if yours lies dormant) and insist that your child connect, friend, follow or link up with you on those platforms. However (and this is the hard part), resist the urge to snoop too much or too often.

Set all the settings

You have probably activated parental control on your television. Likewise, ensure that all of the Internet browsers at home (on every device) have safety settings activated. Go through the privacy and security settings with your child to check that their email accounts, social media accounts and cloud accounts have the appropriate settings activated.

Make sure that your WIFI at home is protected with a password and that you know how to change it. This can be an effective way to restrict Internet usage, if necessary.

Lastly, ensure that the devices and laptops owned and used by the adults in the house have all of these settings activated too. Resist the urge to allow your Internet browser to save your password for you, or for sites requiring log in details to ‘remember’ you. Make a habit of logging out of your accounts once you are done, and encourage your child to do the same.

Create a list of ‘approved’ sites

Work with your child to create and bookmark a list of ‘approved’ websites. These can include educational sites, YouTube channels and certain social media sites. If you or your child come across or hear about a new website and would like to add it to the list, check it out together and then make a decision.

The point is to teach your child how to be a discerning consumer of online media and information. There is a lot of information on the Internet and it’s not always clear what is true and what isn’t. Encourage your child to think critically about information and its source.

Here is a list to get you started:

YouTube channels worth checking out:

  • Study with Jess
  • CGP Grey
  • MinutePhysics
  • SciShow
  • Numberphile

(A note on Wikipedia: Even though there is evidence to suggest that the information on Wikipedia is reliable because it is crowd-sourced and, therefore, constantly updated and corrected, many teachers are opposed to learners using it as a source for their assignments and will mark them down if it’s cited in their bibliographies. However, your child can still use it to quickly check concepts and facts. They can use the sources cited in the footnotes to point them towards more ‘acceptable’ sources for assignments.)

Technology is more than the web – don’t forget about apps!

There are many applications (apps) available for both Apple and Android devices. Some apps are useful, most are harmless, but some are downright scary. Your child’s device should be linked to your credit card or email account so they should not be downloading apps without your knowledge.

There are many apps on the market that can be very useful for your child (and you), for example planning and scheduling apps like todoist ( and Trello ( Encourage your child to do their research before downloading a paid-for app. Also encourage your child to ‘declutter’ their devices often to avoid sluggish operating systems and a screen full of apps that aren’t being used. Again, caution your child against divulging private information when using apps.

Every family is different. Some are more comfortable with the idea of the Internet as a source of information, while others are still concerned about their children using it unsupervised. The rules and limits you set are up to you and your family. Bear in mind that you have an opportunity to shape your child’s approach to the Internet and their online presence, and that is something that should not be taken lightly.

Tips for visual learners

This is the first post in a three-part series, where we explore study techniques for the three main learning styles. If you aren’t sure what your unique learning style is, click here to find out.

So you’ve done the quiz (or read the previous blog post about different learning styles) and you’ve figured out that you have a visual learning style.

To recap: People with a visual learning style learn best when they can see what they are trying to learn. If your notes are colourful and you like to doodle in the margins, then you’re probably a visual learner.

Here are some study techniques that you could try. These techniques help visual learners to make sense of content and concepts by forming ‘pictures’ that your mind can then file away, ready to be whipped out when you need it most: in a test or exam.

Take notes in class

This might sound obvious but it’s an old school way to make sure that you remember what you’ve learnt in class. Too many people try to simply listen to what the teacher is saying, and then find that they can’t remember anything as soon as the class is over!

As a visual learner, you may also find your thoughts drifting if you try to listen without taking any notes… Taking notes is a skill: Don’t think that trying to write down every word that the teacher is saying is going to help you either. You’ll lose track and end up missing something if you try to do that.

There are five main note-taking techniques that you can use during a class:

  1. The Cornell Method: Divide your page into two columns. In the right-hand column, write down the concepts being taught. In the left-hand column, write down questions or cues relating to the content. This forces you to engage with the subject matter.
  2. Outlining method: Use bullet points or indenting to show the main themes, and then the sub-themes under each main theme.
  3. Flow method: This is a freestyle method where you simply take notes in whatever format feels best to you at the time. You can use arrows, stars and pictures in this method to connect ideas and concepts.

Here are two excellent YouTube videos about note-taking skills. The first explains the three main methods, and how to use them, and the second shows you how to make your notes colourful and exciting to look at and use (perfect for visual learners!):

TIP: If your teacher doesn’t approve of note-taking during class (we all have a teacher who says “You don’t need to write, it’s all in the hand out”), try speaking to him or her about it after class one day. Show your teacher the kind of notes that you would like to take, and explain that you think that you’ll be able to grasp the content much better if you’re allowed to write notes during the class. If your teacher is still unsure, then try to write as many notes as possible in the time between classes or straight after school.

Mind maps

There’s nothing new about mind maps. It’s a study technique that’s been around for ages, and you’ve probably seen them before. Perhaps a teacher or adult has even tried to teach you how they create mind maps. Whether you’re a mind map expert or a mind map novice, this much is true: Mind maps are a visual learner’s best friends.

The trick with mind maps is to only include the most important information (so don’t try to include everything in your History textbook). Mind maps should be as colourful (or not) as you want them to be. Use highlighters, different colour pens, wax crayons, pencil crayons and sticky notes to really make them stand out. You can also use pictures to really solidify concepts or ideas in your mind – either draw them yourself, or cut-and-paste pictures and articles from newspapers, magazines and the Internet.

If you’re worried about running out of space, try to get hold of A3 sheets of paper. You can even use sticky-tape to make a bigger sheet of paper from four A4 sheets.

(We have a full post on creating mind maps coming up on the blog so look out for that.)

Look for pictures, demos or videos in the library and online

Are you excited when you turn a page of your textbook in the middle of a complicated section and see an annotated diagram because, finally, you’ll be able to understand what all those explanations are about? It’s pretty obvious that if you’re a visual learner you’ll need to actually see something before you fully understand it.

Unfortunately, you may not always have a picture, photograph or video in your textbook or learning materials to explain everything. And, even if there are pictures, they may not be clear enough for you to really get it.

This is where the Internet and your school’s library will come in handy. You’ll be able to find illustrations and photographs, and even videos in some cases, for almost anything.

So when your textbook describes a Blue Crane as a tall, ground-dwelling bird that is about 120 cm tall with a wingspan of about 200 cm, look it up! You’ll get a much better idea of what a Blue Crane is when you actually see a picture of it. Better yet, search for a video on YouTube, where you can see the Blue Crane walk and hear its call.

Just be careful while you’re online – be smart and stay safe. And only trust reputable websites because not everything on the Internet is true.

(We have a full post on study techniques using technology coming up on the blog so look out for that.)

How to use your Ace it! study guide

Hopefully this post has given you some good ideas about study techniques to use when you’re a visual learner. Don’t forget that the Ace it! study guides have all the content you need to know for your exams.

Here’s how a visual learner can use the Ace it! study guides to their best advantage:

  • Use highlighters to highlight key concepts.
  • Take notes in the margins.
  • Use sticky notes to mark off sections, or to write notes for yourself.
  • Ace it! study guides are logically organised and broken into sections. Translate each section into mind maps or charts to revise what you need to know.

If you’re an auditory learner, then look out for our next blog post.

What’s your learning style?

Some people love pineapple on their pizza, while others can’t stand the thought. Some people like hip-hop, while others prefer pop music. Boxers or briefs; bikinis or a one-piece; Marvel or DC Comics… why is it that we accept people’s differences in almost every aspect of life, and yet think that every high school kid learns and studies the same way?

We’re all wired differently, so it’s no surprise that we have different learning styles. Here’s a secret: if you can figure out your unique learning style, you’ll be able to learn better, study smarter and do better in your exams.

Your teachers might not have the time to adapt how they teach to suit every single person in the class but, if you know your own learning style, you can empower yourself to revise the content in a way that makes sense to you.

More efficient revision = Better grasp of the content = Easier studying sessions = Better exam results!

Take a look at the three main learning styles below, and try to figure out which describes you best. If you’re not sure which you are, try to work it out by deciding which study technique you prefer. If you still can’t work it out, there’s a handy quiz in every Ace it! study guide.

The auditory learning style

If you are an auditory learner, you probably learn best when you hear what you are trying to learn. You’re the kind of person who actually listens in class, and remembers what the teacher has said. You’re also the kind of person who talks to yourself (we’re not judging) and reads things out loud when you’re trying to understand them.

Recommended study technique: Reciting study materials.

The visual learning style

If you prefer using a map to following written instructions or if you have a pencil case full of highlighters, you’re probably a visual learner. In order to understand something, you need to see it or observe it. You prefer using colourful charts, pictures or diagrams to study. You also prefer to use visual aids when you’re giving a presentation.

Recommended study technique: Mind mapping and highlighting key facts.

The kinaesthetic learning style

Let’s break down the word ‘kinaesthetic’:  kinetic, as in movement and aesthetic, as in the senses. You need physical experiences to help you make sense of new information. You’re probably fidgety in class and wish that teachers would let you do, rather than just telling you. If you’re really interested in a subject, you can learn more about it in two hours of doing, fiddling, interacting, researching and exploring than a teacher can tell you in a week of classes.

Recommended study technique: Role-playing or model building.

Remember that you can be a combination of two or three of these learning styles and that it might change depending on the subject. So, you might prefer a visual study technique for most subjects but kinaesthetic study techniques for Technology or Physical Sciences. You just have to try to understand yourself better so that you can do better.

Once you know your learning style, you’ll be ready to ace your exams!