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A glossary of terms

If you're unsure of any of the terms we use at Siyavula, here's a list of common words and their explanations.

By Deborah Torrington
on May 06 2020
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Glossary of terms
Glossary of terms

Photo by zhengtao tang on Unsplash


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Learners earn between 10 and 100 atoms when they get a question correct, with harder questions earning more atoms. Atoms are also earned for mastering a section (1000 atoms) or chapter (4000 atoms). Atoms are thus a combined measure of both quantity and quality of practice. Learners can also earn a once-off 500 atoms for completing their profile.


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Mastery is Siyavula’s internal measure of how well a learner is currently doing. As learners get questions correct they grow in mastery (by earning stars) and are exposed to more challenging questions. Mastery will be shown for both sections and chapters. For teachers, mastery is reported as a percentage, but learners will see their mastery as a number of stars earned at the section or chapter level. Depending on the size of the section/chapter and the maximum difficulty of the questions within that section/chapter, mastery could be out of two, three, or four stars.


These are the major headings from CAPS and should mostly match the chapters used in most CAPS-aligned textbooks, including our own. Chapters are further divided into appropriate sections.


We've divided chapters into sections, in order to offer a more fine-grained selection of questions. Depending on the size of the chapter, and our current coverage of the chapter, there is sometimes only one section in the chapter.


There are four main dashboards on Siyavula:

  • Learners have a Practice Dashboard for each subject and grade (e.g. Grade 10 Maths) from which they can choose which section(s) to practise and where they can see how many stars they’ve earned for the various sections and chapters that make up the content for the grade.
  • Learners in Grade 11 and 12 also have an Exam Prep Dashboard where they can choose to practise adapted versions of past exam papers either by paper and question or by topic.
  • Teachers have a Teacher Dashboard from which they can quickly access settings, information, and reports for each of their classes.
  • From their Teacher Dashboard, teachers can also access a Practice Dashboard for each class. This allows teachers to drill down for a more detailed view for how their learners are doing (see below for more details).


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Teachers have access to various reports for their classes to see what and how their learners have been doing. All reports can be downloaded so that you can incorporate them into your own spreadsheets. Available reports include:

  • Summary Reports: give an overview of the number of questions completed and average mastery for every learner and chapter. Summary Reports are available at both the class and individual levels.
  • Assignment Reports: give the completion and performance for each learner and question on an assignment. Assignment Reports are available at both the class and individual levels.
  • Leaderboards: allow you to rank the learners in a given class by either how many questions they’ve completed or atoms they’ve earned.
  • The Practice Dashboard: this is an older (but still useful report) which allows fine-grained content filters across grades and gives graphs and tables appropriate for the selected content, as well as more detailed information when a specific learner is selected. This dashboard also includes ranked performance data for every question that learners in the class have attempted from selected content, and the ability to view each question for diagnostic purposes.


Our assignment-setting feature allows the teacher to select specific question types for all learners in their class. Questions are browsed by - and can be set across - grades, chapters, and sections. All learners will receive unique versions of each question that you assign. Reports are available to both learners and teachers to show how well each question was answered. Assignments can be used for homework, and for both formative and summative assessments.



Practice refers to the ‘default’ mode of practising available to learners via their Practice Dashboards. Learners choose one or more sections to work on and then they receive questions based on their current level of mastery. Typically, learners will start with easier questions and then as they prove themselves to the system they’ll get more challenging questions, in addition to a few questions they’ve already seen. This keeps learners working at an appropriate level of challenge, but also facilitates some revision. The aim of the Practice mode is for a learner to work through and master content (earn stars) at their own pace. As with all modes of working on Siyavula, learners can try a question again to get a new version of the same question.

Exam Prep


Grade 11 and 12 learners can choose to practise adapted versions of past exam papers using our Exam Prep product, either by paper and question or by topic. Unlike when doing questions through Practice, learners will see mark allocations for each question and check marks in the solution indicating specifically where marks are allocated (similar to an exam memo). There are also no mastery stars and instead learners receive an average percentage that they can improve. Questions are not tailored to the current level of the learner and learners may be exposed to questions of all difficulty levels.

Question Bank


Teachers can browse all our Mathematics or Physical Sciences questions even if they do not have classes set up. Questions can be browsed by grade, chapter, and section for a given subject, with the ability to see different versions of each question to get a sense of how each question varies around the core concept being tested. There is also a quick link to actually do the question and see the solution. The Question Bank is a great tool for:

  • Projecting questions to the class that you may have chosen in advance; and
  • A place to get inspiration when creating worksheets or setting tests and exams.

It may also be helpful to browse the Question Bank before asking your learners to practice a certain section, or when setting them a particular question, atom, or mastery target.

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