How international schools in Singapore are helping kids prepare for exams

AIS how does your school help kids prepare for exams
With exams on the horizon, we're doing our best to keep the kids (and ourselves) cool, so we asked five international schools to share their top exam tips for students...

Exams are on the horizon which means the kids are probably starting to look a little more stressed (if not, shifty) with how much they have to study, plan and prepare. As parents, it’s tough to watch the kids go through such pains, but no matter how much help you give the kids with their homework, they’re still going to be the ones to sit the exam. But don’t fret! As long as the kids know they’re responsible for their grades (and there is still a life beyond grades), all that’s left to do is keep cool and support the kiddos as they head into that exam hall. We asked five international schools to share just what kind of support they offer to help kids through exam season, plus tips for students on how to manage exam pressure…

Australian International School – Jonathon Ooi, School Captain, Year 12

What resources does your school offer to help students prepare for exams?

AIS (pictured top) offers a lot of help and support to the student body. Teachers are always happy to answer any questions before/after school and during lunch times. We also get support with organisation and study tips, which are valuable resources for navigating these stressful times.

Is there a study technique or strategy you recommend?

I find the best way to learn a difficult concept is to try to explain it to someone else. Whether to a family member or a friend, explaining how something works allows you to quickly identify gaps in your knowledge, fill those gaps and reinforce your understanding. I find it really does help with being able to remember it for exam day.

What’s your best piece of advice for students?

It’s important to have a balanced lifestyle. Whilst it may be difficult to manage study time with relaxation time, taking out small blocks of your day to do what you love allows you to destress and make the most out of your study time when you come back to it. Sleep is also very important – best to stay well rested and healthy so you can perform your best during exams!

Read more about AIS on the HoneyKids School Selector

Tanglin Trust School – Clare Butler, Head of Lifeskills and Clare Lancaster, Educational Psychologist

TTS How does your school help kids prepare for exams

Photography: TTS

What resources does your school offer to help students prepare for exams?

All students look at different revision strategies and work on study planners in Lifeskills class. It is key that students first fit all their activities and fun things into the planner and then fit the work around that – in that way the study planner is realistic and effective. Students can complete practice papers and use the exam board mark scheme to mark the papers themselves to help them really understand what the examiner is looking for. Students who are struggling can book times to see their tutor or subject teachers to talk through any academic problems. The school Nursing Team and Counsellors also provide extra emotional support.

Is there a study technique or strategy you recommend?

Mind maps can really work if they are done properly. They should be colourful and simple with trigger words and pictures. Students can add to them every time they learn something new and by the time they finish the topic, their mind maps are complete!

What’s your best piece of advice for students?

Eat healthily to prevent tiredness and to increase concentration. Teenagers also need at least eight hours sleep at night – keeping devices out of the bedroom can encourage relaxation and natural sleep. Around exam time, we can fall into unhelpful thinking patterns which make us feel more stressed. It’s vital to stay positive. Students should try to avoid comparisons with others, ‘all or nothing’ thinking, catastrophising and putting unnecessary pressure on themselves.

Read more about TTS on the HoneyKids School Selector

Hillside World Academy – Mr Stanley Lim, IB DP Individuals and Societies Teacher

Photography: HWA

What resources does your school offer to help students prepare for exams?

Lessons are learner-centric and use socratic questioning to guide students in the right direction before gradually handing the learners’ responsibility back to them. When conducting classroom assessment, the lessons tends to be more exam-focused. The school ensures that each student has a teacher as a mentor and will schedule time after 3pm for individual consultations. Students can attend structured sessions on report-writing skills and their respective supervisors will review their progress.

Is there a study technique or strategy you recommend?

I strongly suggest that students adopt the learning attitude of ‘Seek to Understand’ because once engrained, that mentality inculcates the desire to know. When responding to language and humanities questions, adopt a familiar writing style, such as PEEL (Point, Example, Explanation, Link), which will act as the student’s guide and the examiner’s light.

What’s your best piece of advice for students?

Start revision early and make sure the days leading up to the exam are as regularised as possible to avoid unnecessary anxiety. Do whatever is required and once the paper is over, do not dwell over it but move on to the next.

Read more about HWA on the HoneyKids School Selector

One World International School – Melanie Martin, Middle Years Sr. Co-ordinator, Secondary Chemistry Teacher and Saumya Pandey Grade 10 Tutor/ Economics, Business Studies, Global Perspectives Teacher

OWIS How does your school help kids prepare for exams

Photography: One World International School

What resources does your school offer to help students prepare for exams?

At One World International School, we have many online and offline resources to help students prepare for exams. We offer supplementary classes during lunchtimes and after school to help support learning, we have comprehensive study materials such as guides, revision booklets, past papers, websites and apps. We follow the policy that all students must attend school every day up to their last exam and we don’t have an option of revision leave at home. We believe that school-age students still need guidance and supervision to make their revision time as effective as it can be and to practice exam papers with feedback from their teachers.

Is there a study technique or strategy you recommend?

The effectiveness of study techniques varies with the content and subject under review. For example, a mindmap can be a great tool for graphical representation of information, for establishing links and association and to further trigger ideas. Whereas mnemonics can prove useful for lower order skills such as recalling facts. Students should use a mix of techniques to best suit the learning outcomes.

What’s your best piece of advice for students?

Prepare early, set and monitor weekly goals to plan your course of action, follow deadlines and reflect on your learning process. Students should not prioritise work over rest as deprivation of sleep leads to fatigue which definitely affects exam performance.

Read more about OWIS on the HoneyKids School Selector

GEMS World Academy (Singapore) – Jonathan Cox, Deputy Principal for Secondary Years (G9-12)

GEMS-LR-How does your school help kids prepare for exams

Photography: GEMS World Academy (Singapore)

What resources does your school offer to help students prepare for exams?

Support for exam preparation comes largely through timetabled classes. We try to avoid ‘teaching to the test’ and ensure students have acquired a good understanding of a topic through enquiry based learning. However, for standardised tests, students are given study guides, past papers, examine marking rubrics, examiner reports and looking at exam tips. For high pressure/high stakes examinations like the final IB Diploma papers, we do offer additional classes before/after school and during breaks. These may be taught classes targeting specific topics or ‘drop-in clinics’ where students can come for individual consultation.

Is there a study technique or strategy you recommend?

Students need to be aware of what works for them – if it doesn’t work, don’t do it. Overall though, good old-fashioned note taking is hard to beat. It requires students to read ‘consciously’ and understand what they are reading. The most challenging thing in this ‘cut & paste’ era is to take notes in their own words. Notes can then be revised and reduced to a series of ‘buzzwords’ that can trigger the recollection of a topic.

What’s your best piece of advice for students?

Cramming the night before and examination with a gallon of coffee to hand is never the best! Healthy eating, exercise and sleep can contribute more positively. I always advise my students to know exactly what is expected of them in each examination, even what the paper will look like, so that they enter the examination room focused and confident in what they are going to do.

Have a proper revision schedule. If you have consolidated your learning over a period of weeks (months for higher level examinations) beforehand, then even the toughest of tests become straightforward.

Read more about GEMS World Academy (Singapore) on the HoneyKids School Selector

Top image: Australian International School

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