Ask An Expert: Helping Upper Primary Kids With SA1 Prep

SA1 preparation

It’s exam crunch time, where every minute counts, and the quality of your child’s revision could have a make-or-break impact on his or her grades.

“At the upper primary level, your child will be required to manage and tackle content from the previous years of primary school,” says Phua Kaiying, an academic director at The Learning Lab.

This is why upper primary revision should include a comprehensive review of important concepts covered in the previous years.

The main objectives of revision at this stage are to help your child:

  • read critically and analyse task requirements
  • develop an understanding of what examiners look out for in the exams
  • apply the most appropriate techniques to identify and analyse question requirements

What’s the best way to carry out upper primary revision? Read on as Kaiying answers some common questions by parents.

Between topical exercises and school exam papers, which is better for SA1 prep?

Both topical exercises and sample or school exam papers are equally important—I believe that your child should place more priority depending on what he or she needs, and the key weaknesses or concerns that he or she has.

I would recommend that both you and your child take some time to consolidate the list of topics that need to be reviewed. Your child may start with topical exercises, before moving to sample or practice papers closer to the examinations.

Benefits Of Topical Exercises

While preparing for any examination, it is essential for your child to have a strong understanding of the topics that will be tested in the exam. Hence, topical revision comes into play as it:

  • helps to strengthen your child’s foundation of the topics that are being reviewed
  • allows for more topic-specific and component-specific practice

Benefits Of Practice Papers

About two weeks before the examination, your child may like to attempt full practice papers. These mock papers can help your child to:

  • work on time management
  • familiarise himself or herself with the exam formats

Ensure that your child has time to complete practice papers for each subject before the examination for a better gauge of how he or she is coping with each subject. This can help to build up your child’s confidence in scoring for his or her actual paper.

Based on your experience as a local educator, what are some essential revision activities?

In order to do well for any examination, sufficient time and effort must be put in. Here are three ways your child can prepare for the SA1:

a. Make Effective Notes

I have found that students who take time to compile summary notes for each subject, in the form of lists or mind maps, are able to revise the materials in a more systematic and clear manner.

I would also recommend that students write down the key points of what they revise, as the act of writing helps them to better remember what they read.

b. Review Past Corrections

Reviewing past mistakes and ensuring the same mistakes are not made is important as well. It helps your child to understand why he or she has gotten the questions wrong. It may also highlight areas of a subject that your child may not be particularly well-versed in.

c. Engage In Timed Practice

Last but not least, it is important for your child to include timed practice during revision sessions. This means that he or she should complete an entire practice paper within the allocated examination time. Such timed practices are effective in helping your child to gain a better idea of how to use his or her time efficiently during the actual paper.

At The Learning Lab, our teachers have also shared some tips and tricks with students, to help them score well for exams. For instance:

  • English: Students are encouraged to add in dialogue and emotions when working on a composition to make the story more descriptive.
  • Math: Students may stumble upon a question format that they have not seen before. Instead of giving up on that question, one suggestion for our students is to assign one unit to the unknown element, and try to solve the problem from there.
  • Science: Our students are taught to differentiate between process-skill words such as “state,” “name,” and “list” to give more accurate answers.

How can I get my kids to study independently?

Use the power of your relationship with your child to inspire a passion for learning.

a. Empower Your Child To Learn Independently

Children should be taught how to find out the answers to their questions. As a parent, you can show them how to utilise tools and resources to help them learn better. These tools and resources could include their lesson notes, their past work, a dictionary, speaking with their teacher, and so on.

If your child approaches you with a question, you can encourage your child to come up with solutions, by saying “Try to solve it yourself, you can do it.” or “Think about possible ways to solve this question. If you try and you’re still stuck, I will help you”.

Empowering children to find possible solutions to the challenges they encounter will help to inculcate the good habit of being responsible for one’s learning.

b. Encourage Your Child To Organise His Or Her Time Effectively

Help your child to practise good time management by using planners and timetables.

Any final tips for parents?

Look out for symptoms of stress such as insomnia, a lack of appetite, or a change in energy levels during the exam revision period. Reassure your child and consider sharing your own experiences to let your child know he or she is not alone.

During the examination period, it is important for your child to have time for rest and play. Taking breaks is necessary to reinvigorate your child so that he or she has the stamina to last through the exam season.