Are assessment books necessary?

Are assessment books necessary?

Are you hooked on assessment books for your child? Find out when these review tools are necessary for your kids' education!

If you are a parent of a primary school going kid, chances are you have walked into Popular bookshop at least once (or many times more) to purchase a set of assessment books for your child. Majority of Singaporean parents have quite an obsession for assessment books.

I am no different. In fact, I am probably addicted to assessment books so much so that I can unknowingly buy the same books twice! But after two years of buying assessment books, I not only don't see a great leap in my son's results, I also had to throw away tons of undone assessment books at the end of each year. And so, I begin to wonder if it is necessary to buy assessment books?

My humble opinion on this is that it depends very much on our own expectations. What exactly do we want to derive from the assessment books. Depending on what we want, it can be unnecessary and necessary.

Assessment books are unnecessary when:

1. Your immediate aim is for your child to ace the school's paper

Each school sets its own school exam papers and has its own style of setting a question. Sometimes, a question can be so unique that it does not appear in any assessment books. Hence, it is rather pointless for your child to bulldoze his way through the assessment books especially when the questions are not tested on the school papers. It would actually be wiser if he revises the school's past year papers and materials instead.

2. Your child has no time for assessment books

This is self explanatory. What's the use of piling up assessment books when your child barely has the time for it? You may ask why wouldn't he have the time? Well, for a start, he is already spending more than half a day at school burning his brain cells. When he gets home, he has to complete his school homework, revise for upcoming tests and of course, he needs his downtime.

It is even worse if your child has enrichment classes to go to, music lessons to practise, tuition homework to do etc. It would be cruel to add more assessment work onto his already tight schedule.

3. You don't have the time to mark and go through his mistakes

Yes, parents have a part to play too. I find that it is less effective if we simply throw the assessment books at our kids but we don't  go through their mistakes with them. He can finish the entire assessment books but not learn where his mistakes are and worse of all, repeat the same mistakes in his exams. Assessment books are not magical formula that guarantee results, it is about how we use them to help our kids.

4. Your child does not need the extra practice

Believe it or not some kids just don't need more practice. They learn and  retain perfectly on their own. For such kids, it may be meaningless and boring for them to repeatedly do assessment books. Instead, it may be better to free the child and use that money and time for general knowledge books that focus on other areas that the schools don't teach.

But when are assessment books necessary? Read on the next page!

Assessment books are necessary when:

1. Your child needs the extra practise

Sometimes, the student needs to practise in order to grasp the concepts. For subjects like Mathematics, English grammar etc, it's all about getting practice on paper. If your child is the type who gets better with more practice, then it would make sense to buy assessment books especially if the school doesn't give enough practice.

2. Your child is bored at school and needs the extra challenge

For students who are high achievers, they may sometimes find the pace at school too slow and are hungry for some intellectual stimulation. You could use challenging assessment books to help fill this void.

3. You want your child gain the extra knowledge

It is not a bad thing for a student to work on assessment books. Through doing them, they gain added knowledge that their schools don't teach. For instance, vocabulary assessment books, as the child works on it, he learns more new words; words that he may never learn in school. Those added knowledge could be helpful to him in the PSLE exams, if not, good for general knowledge.

4. Your child does not have tuition

If you are one of those who refuse to send your kid for tuition but you also want him to keep up with his peers, then, assessment books are an inexpensive and convenient choice in place of tuition. But unless your child can self study, you still need to sit with him and go through the contents in the assessment books. Otherwise, there may be little results.


As you can see, whether it is necessary for us to get assessment books depends on the child and parent. It is about what you want to achieve  from assessment books. Don't adopt the herd mentality and buy them just because everyone else is doing it. Don't buy and expect a miraculous improvement in your child grades. Assessment books can be merely a stack of papers if we don't know how to use them to suit our children's needs. Buy the books only if it helps to attain the goals you want for your child.

As for me, I have learnt that I buy assessment purely on impulse. I buy them without having a clue on how I can use the books. I buy because they are like a security blanket to me.  I also buy without giving any consideration if my son has the time to do them. Hence I always end up with a pile of mint condition books which I have no choice but to discard.

This year, I am resolute not to buy any more than one assessment book per subject. I will buy assessment books only if my child needs the extra practice (since I've pulled him out of tuition). I hope by the end of 2016, I would not be crouching next to my shelf and throwing out yet another pile of undone assessment books. And I hope you won't too! Fingers crossed!

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Written by

Homeschool SG

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