Is the academic work at UCT a lot harder than school?
The answer to this question varies greatly between faculties, courses and students. Although dependent on what syllabus you did at school, if you completed the National Senior Certificate (NSC) or Independent Examinations Board (IEB), you can probably expect your marks to drop fairly significantly as you come to university - the work will typically be more challenging and often require more application (as opposed to rote-learning). However, this is not always true, and within certain faculties and courses this may in fact not be the case - this is also determined by the student and the student’s personal interests/strengths. If one statement could be made with confidence, it is that, even if you achieve similar marks at university compared to those at school, it would require far more work to do so.
The work completed at NSC or IEB schools definitely lays the foundation necessary for your first year at UCT. However, you will find that the structure of university is very different to school and how well you do will largely depend on your commitment to your studies. The lectures involve 45 minute sessions where, unlike school, you will not have time in the class to chat or be catching up on yesterday’s work as the lecturers move quickly from one topic to the next. For this reason it is important that you stay on top of your work and try to read ahead so you have some understanding of what is being said in lectures. The tutorials are also put in place for your own benefit as they help you to gage what the lecturers deem to be important from each section and ensure that you actively practise what is being taught. For this reason it would be to your advantage to perform your best in tutorials and use them as an opportunity to do some ‘homework’ because the amount of work you put in is entirely up to you. You won’t have lecturers running after you to check if you are keeping up so you have to be disciplined and ensure you put in enough hours of work each week. Just attending lectures is not going to be enough if you want to pass safely.