Exams provide students with an opportunity to test themselves and evaluate their learnings. It is something for the kids to aim for and helps them develop and hone skills needed in their education and workplace. When assessments are just around the corner, everyone is all over the place, buried under a pile of notes, busy solving previous years’ papers, revising from borrowed notes and textbooks, frantically calling teachers and friends etc. These anxious and nervous learners are our future, and if we take the time to understand their needs, they can actually enjoy studying for assessments.
School in Singapore focus on a fair evaluation system, and with a few preparation tips from the teachers and parents, they can become more confident and prepared before exams.
1. Give the students attainable goals
SMART goals help school children improve and make progress. SMART refers to:
A – achievable
R- relevant and
It equips students to track their progress and gauge their achievements by breaking down the big goals into achievable steps. SMART goals encourage students to enhance their skills step by step. Additionally, these goals are ideal for planning short, medium and long-term objectives – and are universally applicable through the academic year, term or even an individual class.
As teachers, you need to have answers to specific questions when preparing the bilingual curriculum for your child:
- What are the students’ learning requirements? (Relevant)
- What do I want the children to achieve in this class/term/year? (Specific and Time-bound)
- Is this goal appropriate for the class’s intellect and capability level? What support will the kids require? (Achievable)
- How will we know if the kids are making progress? (Measurable)
2. Focus on the process and not the results
While evaluations are vital, it is not about mugging up and getting good grades. A few years from now, the children will only remember the concepts understood, especially those that form a foundation for other elaborate concepts. A better understanding is needed than having a report card with outstanding grades. Applying concepts in real-life scenarios is very important to prepare students for exams. Therefore, we should not stress on mere memorisation and mugging up before an exam. Instead, we must ensure that children understand what they have studied and are revising.
3. Never compare students and make them understand the concept of healthy competition
There are better ways to get children to perform better than pitting or putting one student against another. The best schools in Singapore are the ones that understand the individual learner’s capabilities and potential and then set goals accordingly. When you make children compete with friends, siblings or classmates, it pressures them to do better, which is not healthy. It does not mean you let them slack off before exams. You need to appreciate them as long as they put in the effort. Understanding the competition and knowing they have given their best shot is another excellent tip for preparing students for exams.
4. Ensure a balanced diet and adequate sleep for your kid
Just because exams are a few days away does not mean kids don’t eat well and stay up all night. The entire schedule needs to be smooth to perform well in exams. The truth is that these drastic steps make no difference. Both teachers and parents must propagate the importance of a good night’s sleep and a balanced diet. Numerous studies have shown that sleep deprivation harms students’ academic performance.
5. Provide a favourable environment
Provide an environment that is conducive to good exam preparation. It does not mean that you keep the students at home, stop them from participating in co-curricular activities and take away play time from them. On the contrary, every child needs a breather from time to time, and these activities are a great way to give them a healthy outlet. Extracurricular activities refresh children, rejuvenate their minds and increase their productivity. Instead of scolding them and ordering them to study, try and get involved in their studies. You may need adequate subject knowledge but can equip them with an environment needed for studying.
6. Use checklists to help your students prepare
You must help students take ownership of their education and give them the tools necessary to track their progress. For instance, a goals checklist is a great way for young learners to help them focus on and track their goals effectively. They can track their progress and course corrections accordingly. Many learning plan templates are available for older students to track their progress and take responsibility.
7. Adequate preparation and mock tests
Students need to have an in-depth understanding of what they have learnt and the exam format, sections and timing allotted to each section. They should even be aware of how they will be assessed. Ensure you provide students with a lot of practice material – including exam-style activities in the class, setting time-bound practice tests, giving them mock exams etc. Ensure they follow the structure and timings of the actual exams in these tests to not be surprised during the assessment. Practice exams in class or at home highlight the areas of weakness and allow them to apply strategies to the exam.
8. Check in on students now and then
Lastly, check on the students from time to time. It is always a good idea to have a one-on-one with students to understand their pain points and give them the extra time and attention required for specific subjects. These will help educators measure individual progress as well as the whole class’s progress. You’ll be able to get clarity about what the students are confident with and where they need to work harder. It is a great way to deal with students who are shy and may not raise their hands in class to ask questions. Parents should check in with their children from time to time and gauge any difficulties they face.