5 Tips to Plan and Prepare Well for the Exams

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5 Tips to Plan and Prepare Well for the Exams

Download your free printable 2-page study plan

By June Yong | 16 August 2021

The exams are just around the corner. Many children (and their parents) are beginning to feel the stress and weight of studying for the exams – particularly if they are sitting for major exams like PSLE or O levels.

How can we help our children be better prepared for their papers? One simple way is to create a study plan.

What is a study plan?

A study plan is a visual schedule that has study times and exam dates jotted down in one place. This schedule should include dates of final exams so that it is easy to keep track.

You should work with your child to develop a schedule around one to two months prior to the exams so that there is sufficient time to plan and revise for each subject.

Here is your free 2-page study plan printable (complete with conversation prompts and fun ideas to relax as a family!)

Click on the graphic for an instant download!
Printable study plan

Why do you need a study plan?

Creating a study plan allows you to see how much time you have, and helps to ensure that you are setting aside enough time to study for tests.

  1. Understand your child’s learning style
    Be aware that different children need different approaches. For instance, my daughter enjoys setting her own tasks and checking them off. However, she also feels stressed if she puts too much down and is unable to meet her goals. So for her, we would try to be more realistic and include some buffer so that she is able to finish what she has set out to do.

    Having a schedule gives your children a framework for better time management.

  2. Draw out a realistic schedule together
    It is a good idea to plan your revision schedule together. This should include everything from study times, to breaks and even play time. If your child is still in lower primary, you may want to keep this simple, with just the key subjects and revision tasks. For example, revising spelling words, or doing some pages of an assessment book.

    If your child is in upper primary or older, allow them to fill in the time slots with some guidance from you. Ask them what topics or subjects should take priority, and allot the time accordingly.

    Having a schedule gives your children a framework for better time management, which is an important life skill. A study plan can also build the skills of independence and responsibility in your children as they begin to take charge of their own goals and learning. (In other words, say goodbye to frequent nagging!)

    Just as an adult needs work-life balance in order to feel purposeful and refreshed, so a child needs school-life balance.

  3. Schedule time for other activities
    Be mindful that your child also needs rest and leisure time in order to maintain optimal health – both physically and mentally. Just as an adult needs work-life balance in order to feel purposeful and refreshed, so a child needs school-life balance.

    So even as you plan the study schedule, remember to factor in a few relaxing activities, such as a nature walk, a game of badminton, or family movie night.

    Explain to them the purpose of having a plan and sticking to it, and be available to get them organised and started on the various tasks.

  4. Instil a sense of accountability
    There is little use in having the perfect study plan without your child actually following it. But who should ensure this? The parent or the child? To answer this, you will need to consider the study habits of your child. Are they motivated and independent enough to follow through with the plan? Do they feel like it’s being forced upon them or do they feel like they own the responsibility?

    If this is your child’s first time preparing for a big exam, it’s natural for them to need a bit of hand-holding. Explain to them the purpose of having a plan and sticking to it, and be available to get them organised and started on the various tasks.

    For younger children, you can use stickers to stick on their schedule once they complete the task. And add on small rewards such as their favourite snack if they manage to stick to the plan for three days in a row.

    We are so used to using carrots and sticks to motivate them that we sometimes forget that we are our children’s greatest motivators.

  5. Remember to have connection-breaks
    As much as we want our kids to take responsibility for their own learning and keep up with their work, we also need to remember that they need us to be with them, and not always be nagging at them.

    We are so used to using carrots and sticks to motivate them that we sometimes forget that we are our children’s greatest motivators.

So do make time for your child, try to understand how they are feeling, and be around regularly in the weeks leading up to the exams.

When children know that they are loved and appreciated for who they are, and that we are their cheerleaders (not micro-managers!), they will begin to take ownership of their learning journey.

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