Looking for exam tips to help your child study better? The most obvious one is: Don’t wait until the last minute to revise for exams. Young Parents asked the experts for a guide to systematically study for primary school exams and here are their best tips.
Check out our Listings section here if your child needs more intensive help with primary school.
Exam tip #1: After learning each topic
Have your child start by reading the textbook and going through the teacher’s notes and handouts, and follow up by creating his own notes to summarise the lessons. Rewriting something in his own words makes him think about the subject and why he’s writing it down, says Gloria Goh, assistant director of training at Mindchamps.
An especially helpful strategy for auditory learners is to explain the material out loud to others. This makes him arrange the knowledge clearly in his mind and identify the areas and concepts that he needs more work in.
Mala Sundram, head of the language arts programmes at Julia Gabriel Centre, suggests creating mind maps to help consolidate recently learnt topics. It’s also important to do topical exercises, as they will help your kid identify and understand the topics that he has trouble with.
Exam tip #2: Every month
Help him set clear but achievable academic goals each month and create a realistic revision timetable to meet them. For example, he can aim to read one chapter of the textbook every night, or complete one set of practice problems every other night, in order to score a certain grade in an upcoming test.
But don’t forget to schedule regular breaks into the timetable, as well as set aside time for exercise so he can de-stress and release anxiety.
As Junior reviews his subjects, Mala recommends attempting questions that cover more than one topic so he can get used to consolidating his understanding of interrelated topics.
If he learns a new maths formula that builds upon one from the previous month, he can spend some time working on practice problems to understand how the two are linked.
Revise actively, Gloria says. Too much rote learning is boring, so get creative and make poems, cartoons or songs to turn learning into a fun activity. As you’re doing so, pick out the key points and write them down.
She also suggests doing past-year papers once every three months. Time him so that he can get used to thinking quickly, as well as writing quickly, neatly and legibly. Be sure to remind him to allocate sufficient time to check his work.
(Also read: How to help your child with exam stress)
Exam tip #3: Three weeks before the exam
Create a mock exam situation. Gloria suggests completing one set of past-year papers every two days. This will help him practise good time management and also get an idea of the different types of questions he can expect. Also remind him to be as accurate as possible when checking his work.
Have him spend more time on the topics or types of questions that he finds challenging. It’s okay to skip topics that he is already good at to improve in the ones that he struggles with. And, of course, he should never be afraid to ask you, a peer, his teacher or his tutor if he needs extra help.
Exam tip #4: One week before the exam
Focus on revising the practice exam papers that he has being doing, again paying attention to his areas of weakness. Make sure he understands and can answer the challenging questions.
List the key ideas, concepts and facts, then quiz him to see how many he can recall. After that, make a list of the ones that he forgot and see how many of those he can remember the second time around, Gloria suggests.
For subjects like maths, Mala adds, he can compile and review standard methods of answering questions. If a topic has information or formulas that require memorisation, ensure that he knows when and how to use them.
It’s also good for him to be clear on the breakdown of each subject’s exam – how many papers, the time limit, types of questions and marking guidelines.
(Also read: 11 exam tips to help your child score better)
Exam tip #5: The day before the exam
It’s fine to review the day before an exam, but don’t cram, Gloria says. Cramming isn’t effective because he’s trying to feed too much information to the brain and won’t be able to retain any new information in his long-term memory bank.
Help him stay calm if he gets anxious – there is no use in getting upset over something that hasn’t happened yet. Remind him gently to do his best in the exam, Mala says, and praise him for the hard work he’s shown.
Stationery such as pens, paper, a calculator (with fresh batteries!), a protractor; has he packed everything he needs? There’s nothing worse than realising he’s forgotten a critical tool.\
Finally, make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep so he’ll wake up feeling recharged. Gloria recommends eight to 10 hours of rest.
Exam tip #6: After the results are released
Focus on areas or subjects where he’s improved and praise him for his efforts, Mala says. If he didn’t score as well as he’d hoped, reassure him that you can work on these subjects together before the next examination.
Restore his confidence with encouragement and love, and don’t compare him to his peers. Remind him of his own strengths and talents, and move forward with these positives to ensure that he has a healthy outlook to take on the next academic year.
Need expert help? Check out these enrichment centres in Young Parents’ Listings:
At the British Council, your child learns English in an interactive and engaging way, thanks to teachers who are highly qualified and experienced. Click here to find out about its courses for preschool, primary and secondary students.
Julia Gabriel Centre
It pioneered EduDrama –process drama, combined with planned educational outcomes – which is at the heart of all Julia Gabriel programmes. Kids here boost their communication skills and learn to express their ideas through a variety of platforms, ranging from speech to movement, performance, debate and visual media. Find out more here.
The Reading & Writing programmes at Mindchamps help your child to love reading and master the craft of writing. They’re suitable for kids aged three to 10. Find out more here.
The Shichida Method
Well-known since its launch in 1958, the Shichida Method of brain training offers programmes for kids aged three months up to 10 years old. Read more about its classes here.
(Photos: 123RF.com and respective enrichment centres)