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The Day of the Exam: 15 Tips to Boost your Exam Performance

stressSo you have come all the way and tomorrow is finally the moment of truth, the day of the exam. At this stage you have studied almost all that you can study to be 100% ready for the big day. You have been planning, revising and studying and so there is little more you can do, right?

However hard you studied in the run up to exams, the most important work is yet to be done. Regardless of how much you have studied, it is possible that your exam performance may not reflect your hard work studying for hours on end. That is why we want to give you a few tips to maximise your performance on the day of the exam.

15 Tips for Succeeding on the Day of the Exam:

Exam Tip #1

Wake up early so that you do not need to rush through having breakfast and getting ready.

Exam Tip #2

Check the venue and time of the exam to make sure that you have not confused the day/time/venue.

Exam Tip #3

Have a balanced breakfast and eat nothing risky (probably not the best day to have a super-hot curry!). Bananas are always a good option.

Exam Tip #4

Before leaving home, check that you have everything that you will need – ID, stationery, map to the exam venue, etc.

Exam Tip #5

Head to the exam with plenty of time. A lot of unexpected events can happen on your way there and you do not want to be late!

Exam Tip #6

If there are people around who are panicking, avoid them. They are not doing you any favour!

Exam Tip #7

Go to the toilet before the exam starts. Exams can be quite long and there is no time to waste.

Exam Tip #8

Remember to write your name on the exam paper. You would not believe how many people have forgotten to do it!

Exam Tip #9

Read all the questions carefully before starting and quickly plan how much time to allocate to each.

Exam Tip #10

Start answering the questions that you feel most confident about. There is no need to answer the questions in order.

Exam Tip #11

If your brain freezes, just start writing anything and you will soon start remembering more details.

Exam Tip #12

Don’t spend more time than you planned on a particular section/question or you might run out of time to answer other questions and gain those extra marks! Also,  leave any questions that you are unsure about for the end.

Exam Tip #13

Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner if you are not clear on a question.

Exam Tip #14

Use every minute of the exam and if you have time left, review your answers before handing back the paper.

Exam Tip #15

Stay calm, you have done your homework. Do you BEST and LEAVE the rest to GOD!

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How to Encourage Your Child to Love Learning

So your child has grown older, and you’re ready to give them a head start in getting ready with math. Well, that’s great! This article will give you some tips and ideas on how to best instruct your child while not making them fall asleep.

  • Part 1 of 4: Offering encouragement

(1) Encourage your child. What do you think would make for a more enriching class-time experience, an excited and ambitious one or a defiant, uninspired one?

(2) Keep teaching the child at a consistent pace. Sit down with them daily or at least biweekly to fuse the concepts into their minds. Never forget to keep it fun!

(3) Begin teaching your child with an interactive activity. There’s so much of options. you can use flashcards or a simple sheet of problems. Give them a handful of small objects and let them use those to count out the answers to the problems. Make sure you also have them learn to use their fingers in case no objects are available.

  • Part 2 of 4: Teaching concepts

(1) Teach concepts, not just memorization. While memorization can certainly be helpful, it’s even more helpful to have the child learn exactly how mathematical functions work. This way, they can also begin to apply their knowledge in other ways. That will help them when they begin to move on to more complicated math.

  • Make multiple activities that show how the concept works.

(2) Always make sure that your child completely understands a concept before moving on. If you skimp out on anything, it will be confusing for them and they will not be able to work as well as they should be able to when you apply it in other ways.

  • Part 3 of 4: Making math real

(1) Enhance the learning experience by playing games with the things around you. For example, ask them to say how many more pictures on the wall there is in the living room than the dining room. Have them count them both, then subtract.

(2) Continue to incorporate the concepts you’ve taught into fun things in real life. For example, measuring fractions when baking cookies, asking how many cats are at the pet store or how many showings of their new favorite movie are playing that day.

  • Bring up problems when you’re out with your child. In the grocery store, for example, ask them how much money out of $10 you’d have left if you bought green beans for $1. This will also help make the connections in their mind to help them to become better at math.

(3) Play board games. Board games with two dice rolled instead of one can be a good application for learning basic addition. When they get older, games that use play money, like Monopoly, can help them learn more about adding and subtracting money.

  • Part 4 of 4: Keeping it up

(1) Reward your child. At the end of your time sitting down to work with them, reward them somehow. Whether you give them a small piece of candy or you just hug them and express how smart they are, it will give them confidence and help them strive to do better.

(2) Don’t quit! Teaching your child math isn’t something that happens overnight. Skills need to stack up in their minds like building blocks, and while schools are a primary educator in your child’s life, you are one of the most important!

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Instill a Love of Math

muslim_familyParents are bombarded with messages to read with their children, but it’s rare to hear about the importance of doing math with them. Here are some helpful tips on why and how to instill a love of math in your children.

Early Math Matters
We may take for granted that our children will inevitably learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, but early math lessons establish the base for the rest of their thinking lives. “Mathematics that kids are doing in kindergarten, first, second and third grades lays the foundation for the work they are going to do beyond that,” says Mdm Siti, main trainer at MathsExCEL. “They are learning beyond just counting and numbers.” That’s why it’s so important to help children love math while they are still young. Parents can build on those first preschool lessons by counting with their children, asking them to look for patterns and recognize shapes, then moving on to numbers.

The goal should be to make math “real” and meaningful by pointing it out in the world around you. That could include checking and comparing prices at the grocery store, driving down the street counting mailboxes, reading recipes, calculating coupons, or even measuring food or drink at the dinner table. When Mdm Siti child is little, she kept a small measuring tape in her pocketbook. While they were waiting for their order at a restaurant, the child would measure different items on the table.

Just as you encourage your early reader to look for familiar letters, ask your child to watch for math, regarding math as highly as you do reading. “Every parent knows that it’s a good idea to read to your child every night, but they should also realize the importance of talking about mathematical situations with children every day,” says Mdm Siti.

So What If It’s Hard?
What if you hated math as a child? Parents should try to set aside their distaste for math and encourage their children as much as possible. Young children are eager to learn. “It’s hard to learn to talk or walk. But they don’t care,” says Sue, a community college math teacher in MathsExCEL. “They just push themselves over their limits. They are going to come at math with that same attitude.”

Avoid talking negatively about math, even if you have no need for trigonometry in your daily life. “A lot of people will only joke that they cannot do math or announce publicly, ‘I’m not a math person.’ When a parent does that in front of a child, it suggests that math’s not important,” says Char Forsten, education consultant and writer, who urges parents to create that desire to learn by constantly screening the environment for math. “Have you seen any good math lately?” she likes to ask students.

If your child believes that math doesn’t really matter, he’s not going to be as open to learn. “Attitude has everything to do with learning. You can’t make anyone learn. If a child has learned not to love math, if they don’t love math, and aren’t willing to learn, you have to deal with that first,” Forsten says.

If you are stuck on how to foster math enthusiasm, talk to your child’s teacher about some ways to support math learning at home. There may be a new game that you have never heard of, which both you and your child will love.

Play Games
With so many facts and figures to memorize and apply to math problems, children learn early that math is something that requires work. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun; keep the pleasure in math by playing games with your children. Many games, even the ones adults play, rely on math. With countless websites, computer games and phone apps, parents have endless options, but don’t forget about the nondigital games you loved as a child. The classics that require manipulating cards and game pieces, calculating along the way, may have the same appeal for your kids as they did for you. One game worth considering is Chutes and Ladders. A 2009 study conducted by Carnegie Mellon and the University of Maryland found that preschoolers who played the game improved math skills significantly compared to those in the study who played a different board game or did nonmath tasks.

As you play with your kids, try to tap into your own love for math. When you play Trivial Pursuit, you are using math to determine how many spaces you need to get to the next wedge or predict which category you can answer best. The game doesn’t have to be about math, but should involve it. If you have a good game store in your area, stop by and ask the salespeople for help. Some of Mdm Siti’s favorite games really push logic, which is the basis of math, and get children thinking visually. Check out Link, SET, Rush Hour, Blokus and Spot It, to name a few.

“Playing games is a great family activity,” Mdm Siti says. “The more you have a tradition of playing games, the easier it is to bring in other games you like.” So while you may not be passionate about your child’s latest board game, you can work up to another game you like. Try to make the game personal to your family by playing it in your own special way. “Mathematicians make up their own rules,” Mdm Siti says. “It’s really important to be open to making up your own games. Change the rules. ‘In our family, we play the game this way.’”

Flexing Math Muscles
Riding a bike, swimming in the deep end, and playing an instrument are just examples of our favorite childhood activities that require practice to master. So does math.

“Math is an intellectual muscle building; it’s crucial for fully developing a child’s potential,” Mahoney says. “Those muscles can atrophy. If school is the only place you do math, then it becomes something you only do at school. Then you don’t even think about using it in real life.” So brush off those negative feelings about math and instill enthusiasm. Math will play a role in your child’s life forever.

“It’s important to remember that those basics are essential for later learning. A lot of the stuff we learn in math we apply in different ways later,” says Mary, who emphasizes the thinking skills that math provides. “I might not have to worry about what an isosceles triangle is, but it’s still an important part of education.”

As they grow, kids will learn that they are willing to work hard at something they love. It may just be math. Either way, remember that your child does not have to excel at math to enjoy it. “It doesn’t matter if they’re good, it matters whether they like it,” Mdm Siti says.

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When to Get a Math Tutor for Your Child

parent_homework

As parents, we all want to see our children excel in school. Some children are great at motivating themselves, while others need a push to catch up or even a little help to accelerate beyond their current curriculum. When it comes to building math skills, there is no reason to postpone giving your child that push.

Signs Your Child May Need a Math Tutor

If your child is old enough to receive report cards, you can tell pretty quickly whether or not he might need help when you see his grades. “Always look at grades,” says Mdm Siti, Main Coach for MathsExCEL, who offers helpful tips and advice on MathsExCEL.com. “Grades can indicate anything from a straight-A student getting her first B to a kid showing signs that he needs extra help.”

Beyond slipping grades, look out for a lack of enthusiasm for math. “Elementary school kids love to learn about new subjects, especially math. They like to learn about counting, money, telling time, all math-related subjects,” Siti says. “When you see enthusiasm slip, that definitely signals something.”

That loss in interest could signal that your child needs help, but it also may mean that he or she is bored. That’s where a tutor can come in. “Tutoring is good for children who are highly able, not just for children who need academic help,” Siti says. “If the math course is not challenging enough, that might mean that your child is pretty smart in math and in need of extra challenges.”

One of the best ways to get more insight on how your child is handling math is to talk to his or her teacher. It is important for the teacher to know your child’s relationship with math, especially if it has changed. If your child used to love math in second grade but suddenly dislikes it in third, let the teacher know. Since you cannot be in the classroom, starting a dialogue with the teacher will help you identify how best to help your child.

Get Help Sooner Rather Than Later
Whether you choose to hire a tutor or provide more games and learning opportunities at home, it’s important to identify your child’s signs of needing extra help early on, particularly in math, due to its linear nature.

“No subject is more important than math when it comes to vigilance,” Siti says. “Each new year, each new course builds on the previous lesson and course. Once you miss a lesson, once you don’t master a particular skill, it’s difficult to build something on top of it without it all falling down.”

By delaying the process of getting your child the help he needs, you risk letting him slip further behind as well as lose confidence, which is essential to continuing learning, Bavaria cautions.

Hiring a Tutor
By the time your child has reached second grade, it will be pretty clear whether a tutor would be helpful. Once you decide to find a tutor, take your search seriously. You want someone who is properly trained, will assess your child correctly, has a good reputation, and will provide lessons that are age appropriate. Stay away from tutors who rely mostly on technology, because the time spent tutoring should be focused on the child and tutor working together, Mdm Siti says. That being said, the tutor should attempt to make learning fun.

Above all, you want a tutor who will be a partner in your child’s education. This means that communication is key on many levels: between student and tutor, parent and tutor, and especially between tutor and teacher.

“For tutoring to be effective, the tutor needs to have contact with the classroom teacher in order to discuss the current curriculum and classroom goals, teaching styles and practices, and gaps the teacher is seeing in the school,” says Kathy, a private tutor in reading and math. “The tutor should support the learning in the classroom by reteaching or accelerating. The tutor becomes an advocate for the student’s learning for the school and a support for the parents.”

Setting Goals
When you select a tutor, make sure you explain to him or her what you (and your child) expect from the experience. To determine this, first sit down with your child and identify two to three goals you want the tutor to focus on, Siti suggests. Consider whether your child wants to catch up, keep up or get ahead. Does she want a higher grade? Does she want to study for tests better? Does she need help organizing? A good tutor should ask you some of these questions to help set goals.

When you establish the objectives, also determine how the tutor likes to work, so you can provide the best learning setting. “I like to have a quiet workspace. I don’t like the parent to be hovering, but it could be important for the parent to be in earshot to hear the language that is being used,” says Kathy, who tutors children in their homes. She also recommends parents explain to their children that tutoring is not a punishment, but rather is designed to help them succeed in the classroom.

“Half of my clients are tutoring for enrichment, not for remedial support,” Kathy says. “Tutoring is not looked at as something only for the kids who are behind and need a tutor; often they are at grade level, but parents want them to be challenged.”

Helping at Home
Math may not have been your best subject in school, but you can help your child by dusting off your math skills and knowing the lingo. If your child asks you to look at her geometry assignment, you want to be ready to relate as best you can.

“When you suspect that your child is having a little trouble in math, or any other subject, that may be a time to start boning up on stuff that you have forgotten since you were in a math class,” Siti says. “That doesn’t mean you have to be in expert in quadratic equations, but you should at least have the vocabulary to know what your child is talking about.”

You can ask your child’s teacher or tutor for ways to provide support. Another great way to keep in touch with your child’s schoolwork is by checking out the teacher’s web page, which many teachers maintain on the school’s site. Don’t let your child’s latest math challenge be a surprise to you.

Keep in mind, though, that you’re not required to be the teacher. If your child is struggling, let his teacher know that he needs more help and has been having a hard time with certain assignments. “Parents can encourage kids by giving them time to do their homework and by giving them a place to do their homework,” says Mdm Siti, “It’s not their job to be the teacher.”

Free Resources
Tutoring, especially if you do it on a weekly basis, can be expensive. With sessions running $35 to $75 an hour in many places, you may be interested in other options. Luckily, there are numerous free math websites that offer lessons, games, or a combination of both. These include funbrain.com, which has tons of math games, and sylvanmathprep.com, which offers free instructor-led videos.

You can also work math into the regular day. Kathy recommends normalizing math language in the home and conjuring up real-life math problems throughout the day. On the way to the store, talk about how long it takes to get there, then ask your child what time you will arrive. When you set the dinner table, ask your child how many forks you need, including how many to take away if Dad won’t be home for dinner.

“Math is everywhere,” Kathy says. Use that to your advantage and give your child the best chance for math success.

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Mathematics Gaps that Need to be Handled with Care

The following is derived from my eight years of teaching mathematics from Primary 1 level to JC 2.

1st Gap – From Lower Primary to Upper Primary

model-drawing-h

Somewhere in Primary Three problem sums that require the drawing of simple models begin to appear and in some schools, this happens in P2 and even P1. However, these problems tend to be simple enough so as not to cause problems for students who don’t draw models. Generally, parents report their children doing badly and losing interest in math in P4. This is because in P4, complex problem sums begin to appear. It also coincides with the appearance of Decimals. Thus students who have not mastered Fractions as well as simple models by the end of P3 will find P4 a tough and demoralising year, with some probably staying away
from Math for the rest of their lives. However, in P4, Section C (problem sums) still only take up about 20% of the marks, so pupils will still survive and scoring above 75% is not a problem for the hardworking student who is not careless.

However, this ecstasy is short-lived. In P5, Ratio, Average and Percentages start to appear, on top of decimals and fractions, and only the well-taught and discerning student will understand that they are all roughly the same thing in different forms. To add to the agony, Paper 2 in P5 takes up 60% of the total marks! It is a very big jump from P4; students can no longer afford to just concentrate on their short questions in order to score A*. P5 is the year that separates the men from the boys (or the women from
the girls). In P6 or PSLE, Paper 2 weightage is 60%, wiping out all remaining students who have not mastered complex problem sums and non-routine questions. That is NOT the bad news yet. The worse news is, the ecstasy of quite a number of students who scored A-star in math at PSLE is also short-lived (I have encountered quite a number of students doing badly in secondary math even though they scored A-stars or A’s at PSLE).

2nd Gap – From P6 to Sec 1

Why is it that some students can score A-stars or A’s at the PSLE yet become average or even failures in math at the secondary level? The answer lies in two words – Algebra and presentation. It’s unfortunate that even at the upper primary level, students are not taught to form and solve equations using algebra, and they are also not taught how to present their answers in logical and coherent mathematical statements. Thus I find that many Sec 1 students provide math workings that will not earn full marks by ‘O’ level standards, and these habits are hard to change. Inability to use algebra properly also means inability to master important fundamentals such as algebraic expansion, factorisation and manipulation, resulting in poor performance at the upper secondary and JC levels.

Whenever I ask an upper secondary or JC student to state the main reason why he thinks he’s doing badly in math, the reason given is almost always that he had difficulty handling algebraic concepts and formulae while in Sec 1 and Sec 2. Thus parents and students need to comprehend fully the importance of mastering algebra in the lower secondary years.

3rd Gap – From Sec 2 to Sec 3

Even students who perform well in Sec 1 and Sec 2 may suddenly suffer a drop in their math performance by the middle of Sec 3. This is largely due to the full impact of Additional Math and the pure sciences taking place and finally being felt by students around that time. A. Math can be a shock to some students who are not used to algebra-intensive questions with solutions that are one-page long. Trigonometry in A. Math is also substantially more difficult to grasp than it’s counterpart in elementary Math.

4th Gap – From Sec 4 to JC 1

H2 Math is more shocking to new JC students than A. Math is to new Sec 3 students. H2 Math is significantly more difficult than A. Math and from my experience, students who do not get an A1 for A. Math will have a hard time even in completing their JC tutorial worksheets. This is because on top of having to write out solutions that are often more than one page long, students have to familiarise themselves with a new graphical calculator. Many topics in H2 Math are also completely new to students, such as Complex Numbers, Series and Sequences and Probability Distributions, just to name a few. H2 Math is also difficult for most students because some parts of its topics are taken from the former subject Further Math, which was meant for only top students in Math. Thus it is not surprising to find many students failing in Math tests in their first year in junior college.

✩ My main point is – Concerned parents must monitor their children’s mathematical development extra closely when the kids go through the above stages.

From Md. Ilyasa, Principal Tutor and Managing Director of Concept Learning