Seeing that it’s the beginning of PSLE now, this article is catered for those who are facing PSLE currently or in the future! It will be impossible to tell you guys not to be worry or get stressed over it, but just make sure to prepare for the examinations the best you can, and make sure to answer as much as you can in your exams. Get them done and over with, and it’s a long holiday!
Today, I’ll be covering some tips that may come in handy when you’re dealing with your PSLE examinations! Actually, for most academic examinations, in fact. But prior to this, here’s a little background of how I fared during my own PSLE countless years back. Other than the 4 subjects, namely English, Mother Tongue, Mathematics and Science, I had the (mis)fortune to also take Higher Mother Tongue, so I actually had to sit for an additional paper. But thankfully, I managed to cope and achieved a score of 251. But did I study diligently and religiously to get that score? No. I did not even take out my books out of my bag during that period of time. But this has nothing to do with being smart or intelligent. This has got to do with the tips that I’m going to cover below.
Tip #1: Pay Attention in Class
As much as it is tempting to just talk to your friend beside you or to write sweet love letters to your crush, do it during recess or in between periods. When the class is on, try to just pay attention to what your teacher is teaching. You may not remember anything by the end of the day, but when you actually get down to revising the materials, you will actually find it a lot more familiar, and hence easier to absorb. Because technically, it’ll at least be the second time that you’ve seen or heard of it (the first being your teacher droning on and on).
Personal anecdote: I was an awkward student in primary school, so I was really quiet in class. And since there’s really nothing else I could do if I don’t talk to anyone, I just listened on to what my teacher taught. Keep it up, and you will find that it becomes second nature to pay attention to your lessons. It’ll be helpful to you when you go on to secondary school.
Tip #2: Sleep
This has to do with how our brains function. For someone who is facing an upcoming examination, it is common for him/her to actually study late into the night or might not even sleep at all, and just head straight into the examination hall without sleep. This is actually one of the most ineffective methods of studying. Firstly, by doing this, you’re actually not making full use of your brain’s ability to retain information. Secondly, studying late into the night probably means that you are actually sleepy and are not as focused as you would be if you were well-rested. Thirdly, going into the exams when you severely lack sleep affects your ability to recall the information from your brain. So yes, by doing so, you are actually handicapping yourself in 3 ways before you even began to write your name on the exam paper.
What you should do instead is to space apart your study sessions, or to start your session earlier in the day instead of procrastinating. Do what you need to do when you revise, and then sleep at the usual timing. Get at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep so that you will wake up well-rested the next day. The rationale for this is that your brain will take advantage of the time when you’re sleeping to store the information that you’ve received into your long-term memory. So make use of this fact to study efficiently.
Personal anecdote: As mentioned earlier, all I did was to pay attention in class and did not really study on my own that much, I managed to sleep a lot. And while I can’t say for sure, but I think that the sleeping really helped me a lot.
Tip #3: Skip Questions
This is a very obvious tip but a lot of students don’t actually practise this. Exam questions are usually tough to answer. And to make it worse, you have a clock ticking down, forcing you to somehow be able to think of the solution and be able to write it down immediately. Well, that is something that you can’t do anything about. So what you can do is actually to be comfortable with skipping questions. For MCQ questions, skip it and move on to the next question if you can’t answer it in 3 seconds. For questions that you actually need to write, skip it if you can’t think of the answer in 10 seconds. (This does not apply to writing compositions since you probably don’t have anything else to skip to anyway).
There are a few reasons for this. The first, is the obvious one, which is to save time. Don’t waste time trying to throw out some answer that would probably not get you any marks when skipping it does the same anyway. Besides, once you have finished the rest of the paper, you should still have time to return to it and slowly figure out the answer. The second reason, is that the subsequent questions may have clues to answering this particular question that you’re stuck on. Imagine yourself spending 10 minutes on a question and then 5 questions later, you spot the answer to that question in another question. Last reason, is that most of you, other than those who have already given up on life, will be trying to cram just that little bit more of information before the exam. I’m not saying that it’s useless. It’s actually useful as a form of refresher. The thing is this last minute acquired information don’t tend to stay around in your memory for very long. You may recall 100% of it after 5 minutes, but you might not even recall 50% of it after 30 minutes. So what you will want to do is to make use of this new information while it’s still fresh. Answer the questions that you can answer, and skip those you can’t immediately think of.
Personal anecdote: This helped me all the way even during university. I did farely well in my university exams and was actually frequently the first to finish the exam with 30 minutes to an hour to spare. I ended up getting used to the collective gasps when I raised my hand to submit my paper.
Tip #4: Have a good grasp on your languages
I’m not saying that you need to score As for your languages but that definitely helps. But being good enough at the languages will help you to read and write faster. And importantly, to understand what the question is asking. Because you simply can’t answer a question that you don’t understand. Often, careless mistakes in Mathematics are actually a result of you not understanding the question. If you’re not confident of your languages, don’t worry. Spend a little bit more time to read the questions. Read it twice or even thrice just to make sure that you get it perfectly clear. And then answer the question. Don’t simply skim through the keywords and assume that you have gotten it already. More haste, less speed.
Personal anecdote: Also due to me being an awkward child, I found company in story books and novels. And this helped me greatly in my command of the languages. For a period of time I was even reading Chinese novels. And reading frequently also helps to internalise how each sentence is structured in terms of grammar and the different vocabulary used. So this will obviously help you in your composition as well. And yes, reading speed will be improved at the same time.
Tip #5: Time Efficiency
This wasn’t something I practised when I was doing my PSLE, but it was something that naturally came about because I often had time to spare after answering all the questions. Having time remaining after you finish answering all the questions is incredibly useful because at that point in time, you can feel your whole body relaxing, and your mental state becomes less tense. This is when you should check through all your answers. You’ll be surprised. Often, you may even catch the mistakes that you’ve made, as well as being able to expand on your answers even better. Your mind simply works better than you’re in a relaxed state. Just like how you find yourself playing better in a game of Fortnite when you’re just messing around instead of playing it competitively. So the trick here is for you to aim to finish your paper with about 20 minutes left to spare. For example, if you’re given 2 hours for a paper, aim to finish it in 100 minutes instead of 120 minutes. Then use that 20 minutes to just chill and idly flip through your answers. Yes, the chill and idly is a must, because you need to relax, remember?
Extra Tip: Results Aren’t Everything, Your Life Is
This isn’t really a tip about how to handle your exams, but it’s just a general advice. You will probably encounter questions in your exams that you can’t answer at all despite following all the above tips and having prepared to the best you could have. It’s fine. The score that you get for your PSLE actually matters a lot more to the adults around you than to you. More often than not, you will still be able to successfully get into a secondary school. And at the end of that 4 years in secondary school, you will also be facing the same examination that all secondary students need to take. In other words, regardless of what score you end up achieving in your PSLE, you are essentially still taking the same route. The experiences you might have in the future may differ based on your results, yes. But who’s the say which is the best experience for you? So what matters is that you do the best you can in whatever you do, and know that whatever experience you go through from now onwards is meant to make you a better person. And definitely, learn from your mistakes. That’s how you become better.
With that, we’ve covered the tips that should prove to be helpful for those who are facing PSLE examinations from this week onwards. Good luck, and all the best!
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