The education landscape in Singapore has been undergoing many changes as of late. One major change is the removal of mid-year examinations for some levels and come 2023, for all levels. With the doing away of the mid-year benchmark that indicated to students how they were faring early, students and parents are probably approaching the year-end examinations with heightened worry. To help you in planning and executing your year-end exam revision plan, we spoke to the experts at The Learning Lab. Here’s what they have to say:
If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
You’ve probably heard of this saying and it is indeed true. Hong Jiayi, Academic Director at The Learning Lab (TLL) for JEM and Choa Chu Kang, recommends you have a proper plan in place. While it may be too late in the year for your child to be setting broad goals, it’s never too late to think of how you can maximise whatever time you have left.
You can split your plan into two parts
- Targeting what your child needs to work on
- Deciding how they are going to go about it
Exam Preparation Tip 1: Target Specific Areas of Improvement
Jiayi points out that it may not be very efficient to aim to revise the entire year’s work in a short span of time. In reality, there will be some areas that need more work than others. The year-end examination is just around the corner so your child needs to work smart. You can begin by asking them three fundamental questions:
- What are the components or topics for each subject and how did you fare in them?
- Where did you score the lowest marks in?
When you review their performance in each component, you can identify the specific areas that your child should spend additional time revising to bridge their learning gaps. Then, it’s time for the big question:
- How can you resolve the challenges faced in these components?
“Get your child to make a list of key topics or components that they will be tested on, and also to identify the skills and content-based questions. Identify these areas of weakness and weed them out: If they are weak in content areas, they should revise those areas. Revising doesn’t have to be all bore and chore. You can draw up charts and mind maps or do speed quizzes to help your child retain memory in fun ways,” Jiayi advises.
“However, if they are struggling with answering in a way that addresses the question, they can be coached to say their answers aloud using answering techniques. Start with simple questions to help them build their confidence and see how the answering technique is in play before moving on to more complex questions.” Jiayi continues.
If you’re looking for a learning environment that primes your child for success, look no further than The Learning Lab (TLL). From preschool to junior college, their research-backed programs will equip your child with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to tackle every academic challenge head-on. TLL also helps students to bridge knowledge gaps and to be exam-ready with targeted exercises that are available online via the TLL 360 portal, as additional resources.
Exam Preparation Tip 2: Work on Time Management
Content and answering techniques are important. However, they will only bring your child so far in an examination. “Many students underestimate the importance of managing their time during an examination and more importantly, that it’s something that needs to be practised,” Jiayi states.
“Many students know to skip difficult questions and come back to it later, but few practise it and end up feeling stressed out when they spend too much time on one question and do not allocate enough time to complete the rest of the paper,” Jiayi elaborates.
TLL designs MOE-aligned and challenging practice papers to attempt throughout the term, arming students with the tools and confidence to complete difficult exam papers in a timely manner through consistent and timed practice papers.
Jiayi provides some useful tips your child should use to strategically attempt papers:
- Scan the paper and plan your time
- Allocate more time for questions with higher marks
- Set aside time for checking
- Start by attempting the easy questions to secure marks and boost morale
- Check the time regularly to stay on schedule during the exam
Remember, all of these should be practised regularly during revision so they become good practices that your child automatically does during examinations.
Exam Preparation Tip 3: Keep Your Child Motivated
As the exam preparation period can get trying and stressful, it’s important to keep your child motivated. We asked TLL’s Jiayi for some tips on how to do so and this is what she had to say:
“Vary your child’s study routine between subjects. Switching things up is a great trick to prevent them from getting stuck in a rut or burning out from concentrating intensely on a single subject for days and hours leading up to an exam. Children study differently for different subjects so use this variety to their advantage and to keep their brains nimble, alert, and responsive to the challenges ahead.”
In addition, empowering your child to make his or her own decisions can also help with motivation levels. Give your child some liberty to decide. For example, when drawing up a study schedule, do it with, instead of for, your child. Give him or her choices such as:
We have to revise English and Maths today (set clear boundaries). Which one would you like to start off with? (provide limited choice)
You’d be surprised to know how a simple choice like this goes a long way in motivating your child!
Parents, you are not alone in this exam preparation journey. You can look to TLL as a reliable partner. Through their expert guidance, feedback and encouragement, teachers design a safe environment that gives students the confidence to learn. TLL’s structured programmes are designed to help your child achieve both learning excellence and performance excellence. In this last lap to the examination, teachers will hone critical examination strategies and techniques in your child so they can walk into the exam hall armed with confidence.
How to Support Not Police Your Child’s Exam Preparation
It’s easy for tempers to escalate when frustration creeps in for both you and your child during this intense and stressful period. “Do remember that as parents, you play an instrumental role in teaching your child how to manage stress effectively while boosting their confidence to take on challenges. If you don’t support your child emotionally, they may have unhealthy reactions to stress and this can lead to dire consequences,” Jiayi shares. Thus, stress management tips are just as important as revision tips. Here are 3 simple tips Jia Yi has provided to help you support your child this exam period:
- Be Mindful of Your Tone
Breathe, count to ten or go for a walk but whatever you do, don’t raise or show your frustration. Your child needs a safe emotional space that you can create by expressing support and understanding. Be stern but remain calm. Also, allow your child to communicate their feelings so you can build a healthy and trusting relationship!
- Focus on the Learning, Not the Outcome
If your child becomes a better learner, the academic outcome will naturally improve so it’s more important to focus on learning and relieve your child of the unnecessary pressure of stellar academic performance. You can do this by reminding him or her that you honour effort, and that learning is far more valuable than the results. Instead of “You scored 70 marks for this paper!”, you can say “I noticed you were really focused for the past 30 minutes!” Do not forget to celebrate the small wins.
Did you know that a study showed that while 66% of students in other countries were worried about their grades, the number rises to 86% in Singapore? Don’t let your child contribute to that statistic by stressing over achieving perfect grades. Ultimately, striving for perfection takes away the joy of learning and joy is a much more powerful motivator than the fear of failure.
- Encourage Clever Ways to Study for Exams
The age old saying applies – studying smart is better than hard. There are many ways to do this and there is no one size fits all approach. Here are some possibilities:
- Using flashcards
- Making mindmaps
- Shapes, tables or charts
Let your child explore and find a way that works best for him or her. Don’t insist that they follow what works for you as it may not necessarily work for them. You can also seek out TLL for structured programmes designed to help your child. TLL experts believe that your child deserves to learn in a way that suits his or her learning aptitudes.
“Here’s another pro tip – studying in short bursts with frequent breaks helps to ease the tension and allows your child’s brain to rest and better absorb information,” Jiayi shares.
“Remember, through your compassion, patience and guidance, your son or daughter will develop the skills needed to manage stress to become an independent learner. Exams are a team effort, play your part and support your child as he or she does the same,” Jiayi concludes.
Read more about how you can help your child deal with stress productively here.
Mums and Dads, it’s not too late to start exam preparation right now. Remember, TLL is here to help your child every step of the way. TLL alleviates stress in students’ academic journey by ensuring that they are always a step ahead and well-prepared to tackle any challenges that may come their way. TLL is here to help your child through the final stretch in all the areas that matter from lesson content to exam skills to planning out study routines.
To stay ahead, one must plan ahead. Secure a spot in The Learning Lab’s 2023 classes and enjoy exclusive fee waivers when you enrol during Priority Registration today.