This is a guest post about SA2 Math revision tips by Mr Alex Devadass, a former vice-principal in MOE Schools.
The school term heads into the last stretch and SA2 will take place around the 4th or 5th week of Term 4. What are the best ways to prepare your child for this final Mathematics examination?
Some common practices by parents whom I have encountered in my years as a teacher as well as those based on current teachers’ experiences:
- “Complete your Math assessment books I bought in mid-year and you will be ready for the examinations”, some parents may tell their children.
- Some parents will inform their children’s tuition teachers, “The examinations are coming, can you go through all the Math topics for the year and make sure my boy or girl is ready”.
- Others may go this way – “Just pay attention in class during Math lessons and go through your Math school file and Math examination papers your school gave this year and you will be ready”.
- Then some parents come to school and say to their children’s subject teacher, “Make Alvin stay back every day and you can revise with him the areas he needs help in Math. Do not worry just make him stay back, no matter what time? Anyway, he does not have anything to do at home”.
- I have, of course, come across a small group of parents (who have the time and spend that time with their children) who practice the following – “Let’s look at your past Math examination papers and your Math workbook and see what kind of questions you are getting wrong, let’s practise those in the Math assessment books”.
There are a variety of ways to get your children ready for the final SA2 Mathematics paper. Here I am going to share my top 3 tips for parents to prepare your children.
1) Your children need this kind of practice!
- Do not assign chunks and chunks of pages in an assessment book for your children to complete during this time
- Do not measure your children’s readiness on their completion and accuracy of their answers to this large amount of work
- Assign byte size practice that will provide a more accurate assessment and view of what your children understand and do not understand
- Assign practice based on topics (e.g., Fractions), concepts (e.g., adding of unlike fractions) or types of questions (e.g., Word problems testing understanding of adding and subtraction of like and unlike fractions)
Keep in mind: Give your children sufficient and relevant practice in Mathematics in the coming weeks. Sufficient has to strike a balance with quantity and quality. Do remember quantity does not always lead to quality.
2) Your children need to improve in this!
- Avoid giving examination paper after examination paper for your children to complete now which is not efficient
- Refrain from giving your children practice in every topic and concept as this may defeat the key objective of helping your children
- Get your children to complete a SA1 or CA2 assessment paper from an assessment book or an examination paper online bought from different sources. Another good source can be an online topical assessment that will grade and provide a detailed analysis of your children’s progress and understanding (e.g., Geniebook®)
- Once you have gone through the answers and marked these, look at and examine the topics, concepts or types of questions that your children have gotten wrong. You can then use this as a basis and a good indication of the key areas that your children need further help in, in the coming weeks
Keep in mind: A simple 80-20 rule to follow is that your children should spend 80% of their time reviewing, relearning and practising in the areas that they need further improvement in and 20% of the time recapping and reinforcing their understanding in areas that they are good in.
3) Your children need these essential skills immediately!
- Do not assume that your children know how to plan their time during an examination
- Do not assume that your children know how to check their answers once they have completed their Mathematics examination paper
- Do not reprimand them for making careless mistakes or for not completing a given piece of work or an examination paper
- Teach your children how they should plan their time for a Mathematics examination. The allocation of time may differ for each child
If the Mathematics examination is for 1 ½ hours, go through with them that they should spend 15 minutes on Section A, 15 minutes for section B and 45 minutes for Section C, leaving them 15 minutes to check through their examination paper.
- Provide opportunities for your children to practice the time allocation when they practice at home
For example set 15 minutes for your children to complete 10 Multiple Choice Questions and they must track and ensure that they complete it in the given time (Remember byte sizes).
- Show your children how they can check the answers to the questions once they have completed the examination paper
- Advise them to have a checking column next to their working space in the Mathematics paper and attempt the question without looking at what was done initially
- This helps in 2 ways
- They will look at the questions with a different eye
- They may rectify any earlier misinterpretation of the questions
- They may be able to eradicate any careless mistakes made due to computation error.
Keep in mind: These are critical skills – time management and the checking process, that need explicit development and learning especially for Mathematics. We overlook these skills thinking children know them naturally and require no additional or explicit attention.
So my dear parents, set the relaxed and assuring tone for your children to succeed and do better in the coming final SA2 Mathematics examinations. Provide them sufficient and relevant practice, make focused inroads to improve their weak areas in Mathematics and equip them with the essential skills to better themselves.
Before I end, I would like to share something I came across last month which I feel is most touching and appropriate as to how we can view and approach examinations. A letter from a school principal in Singapore to the students’ parents on examinations.
Wishing all of you a fruitful and meaningful closing term of the year.