What is your strategy for helping your child prepare for the biggest exam of his or her primary school life?
Three months before the PSLE in 2013, KiasuParents member GreenA began giving her daughter sets of past-year papers to complete, in order to assess her ability. “After reviewing her work, I realised that she had major weaknesses,” said GreenA.
First, her daughter was “careless with her maths.” She made errors while doing simple calculations, copied numbers wrongly, and was prone to omitting zeroes and decimal points. In her haste, she would also misinterpret questions and supply answers that were not required.
For English, GreenA said her daughter “knew a lot of words, but was not sure of their spelling.” And although her daughter was an avid reader, she did not pay attention to grammar structures. In answering open-ended questions in the sample papers, she struggled to find clues that were buried in the text.
Science was the one subject where her daughter could “understand the concepts well,” but yet she lost marks in open-ended questions by not using required keywords in the answers.
“Since I only found these problems in June, the next three months were spent in a big hurry,” said GreenA. “Looking back, I really should have started everything at the beginning of the Primary 6 year.”
GreenA has since shared her story on the KiasuParents forum along with a sample study plan, in the hope of helping other parents and students to get organised. We’ve reproduced a portion of her advice below with minor edits, and you can read her original posts on this thread.
From June to August
“After students complete their SA1 exams in May, it’s time to give them past-year papers. This is to get students familiar with the exam format, question types, and also time management. This is also the time to let students attempt the more difficult questions.
When they have finished five to six sets of papers, parents should analyse the papers.
For Maths, list all the errors made, and find the reasons for the mistakes. Are they because of miscalculations, errors in copying numbers, not reading the question carefully, or not answering all questions? Identify your child’s top three error types, discuss them with your child, and ask how they can be avoided. By doing this regularly, you can help your child to reduce careless errors.
For Science, students need to learn the art of including keywords in their answers. I recommend the advanced science guide, PSLE Science A* Achievers’ Guided Topical Challenge, by Educational Publishing House. I found this book at Popular Bookstore, and the concepts are more advanced than what is taught in the standard curriculum. It also focuses on answering open-ended questions with the proper keywords—my daughter benefitted greatly from this book and she got an A* for her PSLE Science. To seriously work on this book, please start early. The book is thick and covers many topics, some of which are hard. A child may need a parent with some science background to help.
For English, pupils are most likely to lose points in the open-ended reading comprehension section. They can get the PSLE English booklet and read the answers for such questions carefully.”
After The Prelims, Before The PSLE
“After the preliminary exams, there are about three weeks left for final revision. This is the time to get back to basics: No more difficult questions. You may also need to use discretion when giving your child past-year papers to work on. Many of these papers are far too difficult.
I would recommend a set of books, called Gear Up For PSLE, also by Educational Publishing House. It is available for all subjects. This series of books is not very difficult, save for the odd tricky question. My daughter worked on these books during the last two weeks leading up to the PSLE, and she told me that the difficulty level is very similar to the actual PSLE papers. It got her ‘warmed up’ and feeling comfortable running up to the PSLE.”
Final tip: Whatever reference or assessment books you decide to use, do buy them early as books may get sold out.