Advice Column, Education, Study Tips

Exam tips for first-timers

  • CAMI
  • Category Advice Column, Education, Study Tips

If your child is in Grade 4, she may have been exposed to class and term tests since the start of the year. But the idea of writing examinations for the first time can be daunting. Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to help her prepare. 

Get organised

The first thing to focus on is creating a dedicated study space. There should be no distractions, and everything your child may need – coloured pens, paper, note cards – should be on hand.   

It is also important to work out a studying schedule. It may seem unnecessary for such young children, but it is important that they learn to plan and manage their time early on. Print out the schedule and put it up in the study area – give her stickers to help count down and tick off milestones as she achieves them. 

When drawing up the schedule, keep in mind that studying large chunks of information can be overwhelming. To digest it more easily, encourage your child to break the work into bite-sized pieces. 25 minutes of studying followed by a five-minute break works well for younger children.

Consider her learning style

Children learn in diverse ways, and now would be a good time to determine your child’s learning style.

  • Auditory learners learn best by hearing information and processing it by repeating it aloud. These children usually talk non-stop, know all the words to songs and prefer movies to books. They often find that reciting key points out loud is a helpful way to process and store information.

Exam tip: Speed up the learning process by recording information, then let your child listen to it while following it in her book.

  • Visual learners notice everything, prefer reading and absorb information best by seeing it. They like books and puzzles and will write things down to remember them. If your child is a visual learner, she will likely learn best using notes and summaries.

Exam tip: Try flash cards to help her memorise key points. 

  • Kinaesthetic learners grasp things best by touching or experiencing it and prefer participating in activities and performing tasks. They are often regarded as a hyperactive, are usually good at sports, and prefer sitting on the floor or bed while studying instead of at a desk.

Exam tip: Let her sit on a gym ball instead of a chair while studying.

Prepare using actual exams 

It is important to make sure that your child understands the exam format of each subject. So, look at old tests or exams (ask her teacher or look online) and explain what is required in each section, look at the mark allocation for each question, and discuss ways to approach the exam paper on the day itself. Marks are often lost because children don’t know how to answer specific questions, or because they don’t give enough information. 

Teaching your child to pack everything she needs for the exam the night before is also a good habit to foster. This will reduce the risk of her leaving important items behind. It will also minimise the morning rush – and the stress that often accompanies it. 

Finally, reassure your child. Ask her to simply do her best and let her know that you will support her no matter what the results turn out to be. Providing positive feedback for her efforts, celebrating her successes and encouraging her to keep trying will help her face upcoming exams with confidence.


By Danielle Barfoot

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