The exam season has come upon us; students, teachers and parents alike are feeling the heat.
Just last weekend, my daughter was lamenting about the amount of homework she had to complete, and how she was going to find the time to start on her revision.
Instead of looking at exams as something to dread and be anxious about, what can we do to help our kids be more positive and proactive? Here are some suggestions you can try at home!
1. Set a revision schedule and space it out
Doing up a revision schedule is the first essential step to better exam management. This should be done as soon as you get hold of the exam dates. Simply print out a blank monthly calendar and start jotting down the subjects and chapters that need to be covered.
Rather than cover one subject across an entire week, studies have shown that spreading out revision on a particular subject is a better strategy. For example, instead of studying Chinese for 10 hours in a day, we should plan for 1-hour sessions across 10 days. This is more effective as the gaps allow forgetting and, more importantly, information retrieval.
Plan for 1-hour sessions across a few days. This is more effective as the gaps allow forgetting and, more importantly, information retrieval.
2. Identify problem areas
In the midst of exam fever, we often forget that the main purpose of revision is to check for understanding and to identify the gaps in our children’s knowledge.
It is less effective to go through every Math chapter or every type of problem sum than to identify the weak areas with your child, and to focus the practice in those areas.
3. Use memory strategies like mind-mapping
If your child needs to memorise notes for a subject like Science, keep in mind that it helps to connect the facts to your visual, auditory and kinesthetic memory.
Techniques that draw on the different senses — such as mind maps — help us to remember things better as it involves reworking information into a visual form. The process also helps us to make new connections, which aids overall retention.
If mind-mapping is new to your child, you can refer to this website for some pointers.
4. Do practice papers
Doing past exam papers in a mock exam context can be helpful in building a sense of preparedness. It can also help your child get used to the exam setting, and highlight content areas or parts of a paper that need improvement.
If your child struggles with finishing papers on time, using a timer while doing each paper may help keep him or her on track.
5. Get them to teach you
Instead of playing teacher all the time, one interesting revision technique is to reverse the roles and get your child to teach you. The benefits of learning-by-teaching have been documented in many studies, so when he or she is trying to master a particular math or science concept, encourage your child to explain it to you, and ask follow-up questions so your child can defend his or her answer.
6. Prioritise sleep
Although the study chapters and practice papers can seem endless, it is good to remind ourselves that our children need sleep and rest, especially during the exam period.
Studies have shown that children who get sufficient sleep perform better on tests. So the next time you’re tempted to allow them that extra hour of studying late at night, remember that our bodies need rest in order to function well the next day!
7. Remember to encourage
Last but not least, let’s remember that year-end exam is but one hurdle among many that our children will meet in life. Put this in perspective for our kids and remind them to focus on the long-term goal of learning and growth, rather than short-term wins or grades.
Let them know too that their identity is not dependent on their results, and all they need to do is to put in their best effort.
One interesting revision technique is to reverse the roles and get your child to teach you.
Above all, let's value our children as unique individuals, with strengths and passions that are worth celebrating. This attitude will not just carry them through the exams, but also through the rest of their lives.
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