As our children move from Grade 3 (Foundation Phase) into Grade 4 (Primary Phase), they are confronted with an increase in content subjects and homework. Sandy Williams, Acting Principal at Chelsea Preparatory School, shares some valuable tips to help them cope when preparing for tests or exams.

Time Management is very important.  Some schools provide daily revision guidelines, if not, a month before exams, work out a daily programme to cover all work, leaving the last week for revision.

Although there are various learning styles, it is extremely beneficial for learners to show written evidence of learning.  They need to learn how to summarize information for easy recall during a test. The following are tried and tested ways that help children to remember information:

1. Keywords written with bullet points, will help them to recall the content of the paragraph.

2. Spidergrams

3. Mind Maps – using simple pictures and colour to track important information from the text.

4. Mnemonics is a method for remembering information using the first letters of keywords, making humorous sentences, verses or rhymes. E.g. To remember the order of the colours of the rainbow: Really Odd Yaks Go Bananas In Vereeniging – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

5. Flow diagrams – can be used to memorise information that happens in sequence.

6. Carry cards – similar to playing cards; can be used to record information in the form of keywords, formulas, definitions etc.; placed on bedroom walls or mirrors to exercise the memory by seeing the information often.

7. Mathematics – requires practising activities repeatedly.  Include the working out process, as in a test, marks are given for the process not just the answer.

Important tips for studying

  • Find a quiet place to study, at an uncluttered desk. Not a good idea to sit on a bed and ‘read over’ notes.
  • Breathing deeply periodically allows for a good flow of oxygen into our lungs and brains.
  • Healthy eating and intake of water are essential.  Increased caffeine is not recommended and can leave a student unable to sleep the night before a test.
  • Work for thirty minutes, then have a five to ten minute break.  Exercise in moderation is good.

When writing the test…

  • Skim through the whole test to determine level of difficulty of various questions.
  • Marks allocated to each question are a good indicator of how much information is required.
  • Keep calm if some questions appear difficult.
  • Highlight key words in questions and make sure you understand what the question is asking.
  • Work neatly (within reason).  It’s hard to receive marks if writing is illegible.
  • Cross out mistakes neatly.  Erasing takes longer.
  • Complete the easy questions first.
  • If a question is very difficult, leave it out and return to it later (mark with a star, so it’s not forgotten.)
  • Check, check, check!
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