This article was mainly written for parents of younger children still at school who are about to take exams, but it can also apply to older children as well.
Revising for exams can be stressful time for both younger and older children. Also for parents anxious that their children will do well. It is important therefore to prepare early. The earlier your child starts to review for the exam the easier it will be for them to absorb the information. Cramming in information a few days before the test can just create more stress which can hinder performance during the exam.
Why past test papers matter
First talk to your Child's teacher and ask him or her what kind of questions they will be asked in the exam. You can receive valuable information this way that can help your child to prepare and focus on the reading materials that matter. Also ask the teacher what areas will be emphasized in the test.
As early as possible try to obtain past test papers for previous examinations. You should try and obtain past exam papers for a number of reasons.
1. It will enable your child to see how the questions are structured and how the answers are marked. Whether the test paper involve multiple choice or written answers
2. If the test papers involve written questions rather then multiple choice some answers will carry more marks then others. The more marks that are rewarded for each question usually the more points that have to be provided for that question. It is important your child dedicates the right amount of time and written material to each answer.
3. Obtaining past exam papers will enable you to test your child against the clock. It is vital your child manages his or her time effectively during the exam. Getting every question correct but partially completing a test paper can still result in a fail. Using past test papers enables you to carry out practice timed assessments to establish how they should manage their time during the exam and how much time they should dedicate to each question.
This leads onto revision.
Reviewing for an exam
When revising or writing down revision notes it is important to give priority to reading materials that are most relevant to the exam. Obtaining past exam papers will have made that process a lot easier.
Don't let your child get bogged down writing too many notes from books. In fact its best to avoid writing linear notes altogether. These can be monotonous, boring and difficult to recall.
The most effective notes are those that utilize colour, drawings and highlight the key topics and make it easy to locate the information that matters.
Mind mapping involves the use of images, symbols and words to represent ideas and knowledge in a visual form where the central theme or topic is located at the centre of the mind map and subtopics are arranged around a central image or keyword.
Only the most important information is presented. This can make it a lot easier to review important information just before a test by quickly locating the key points that matter. It can also save a lot of time then writing linear notes which can be more of a hindrance then a help when trying to find key information before an exam.
The child should create mind maps for each topic of the subject they are revising for. They should start off creating a mind map of knowledge they can recall from memory. This is knowledge they have gained from books, notes, classroom activities and discussions. Also knowledge of the subject they may have gained from outside the classroom. Building upon existing knowledge will help them make associations between the new knowledge and the old. The Mind works best through association and imagery which is why mind maps are so powerful.
As they revise for the test their mind map should become more detailed with keywords, pictures, and phrases representing key ideas and points.
They should keep reviewing their mind maps and try and recall as much as they can using the images and keywords to jog their memory. This will assist recall, re-enforce knowledge gained and help preserve the knowledge in long term memory.
Reviewing before the exam.
A few days or so before the exam, encourage them to review their mind maps. Ask them to recall as much as possible for each key area. This will reveal any gaps in their knowledge that can be studied before the exam.
A day before the exam they should get plenty of sleep and make sure they understand the requirements for the test such as what can be brought into the exam room. Drink plenty of water as dehydration can cause tiredness and diminish concentration.
If you have prepared well, have studied the relevant material and have created mind maps to absorb the information and enable efficient exam review this should greatly increase the chances of passing the exam considerably.
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