School Examinations in Singapore – Common Sense Tips for Survival

  • Words in Bold – Tips
  • Words in Italic – Outcome

The heat is officially on. Primary 1 and 2 were easy peasy as my girl’s primary school had hardly any proper examinations – mostly were formative assessments and mini tests. The school principal is also one kind man, he initiated Wednesdays as no-homework days and there are also no homework during school holidays!

My girl is in P3 this year and with the new subject Science introduced, suddenly there were many things to study. Maths problem sums take on a totally new level in Primary 3 and even I was stumped while solving a couple of them. I don’t remember my mum having to coach me in my Maths when I was in Primary 3 so problem sums were definitely easier then in my days (nearly 2 decades ago). Sadly, the education system in Singapore is as such – it goes by merit and you have to put in a lot of hard work. I can’t say that it’s the most ideal way to educate a kid as it really takes up too much of their precious childhood playtime but at the same time I am grateful for the fact that education is compulsory in Singapore and it is made very very affordable and equal to all. I don’t expect my children to be scholars but I think that being adequately educated will make life so much more easier and convenient for them in the future.

So, Term 1 has passed and now it’s Term 2 with the mid-year exams drawing near. In fact, Oral exam starts in 2 weeks *gulps*. So being the kiasu mummy, I started to revise with my girl since maybe 2 weeks ago, starting with her timestable which she is very very weak in. I am grateful to my mum and husband who takes care of the toddler while I coach my P3 girl in her room daily.

With consistency and daily drilling, she now can rattle all the timestables off like a nursery rhyme and that makes things so much easier coz your speed and accuracy of your multiplication and division working fully depends on the timestable! And, from 2 weeks ago, I also started to sit down with her nearly every night to go through her school homework, tuition homework and revise extra material with her. (Previously I only sat down with her when she had problems doing her school homework. If there wasn’t any homework, she is free to play that night).

At first it was tough, she was resistant to so much work suddenly and she kept getting distracted and wanting to go and play instead. I had a hard time, sometimes I had to scold her a bit (she would tear a bit) and talk some sense into her so she can understand where I was coming from. In the end, I had to tell her to JUST DO WHAT I SAY.

That happened 2 weekends ago. Just last weekend, things took on a 180 degree change. She was much more compliant and ready to do her work. After 2 weeks of consistent work, she became more focused and in turn she did her work quite well. I added a rare nice snack (vanilla cream Collon biscuits which I usually will not give her) after her work to reward her and she was so happy.

She also witnessed that when she herself put in hard work, she could see how much she had improved and that really encouraged her a lot.

I also noticed that after daily sessions of doing work together with her, she has become very chatty and would tell me so many happenings when I get home from work. Yesterday once I stepped into the house after work, she immediately went “Mummy, I cannot find the worksheets you asked me to do, maybe Auntie (our weekly cleaner auntie) had thrown it away”.. “Mummy, today my classmate passed me a pinafore and then after that I realised it wasn’t mine”.. All in the midst of my toddler also asking for attention with “Mummy! Aeroplane! See!”.

I find it really nice that she became so chatty – I will always listen eagerly and respond with some more questions. When your kids withdraw from you, then that’s a problem isn’t it?

In my case, my girl has always been a laid back person who does the minimum, and I allowed it coz there weren’t any examinations in P1 and 2. So now that this is considered her first major exam, it’s like I need to start a very very cold engine. From doing nothing, to daily consistent revising and doing work. I really thank God that things are starting to fall into place nicely!

This process is still ongoing for me – I will continue to go through her work daily with her (except Fridays – to give both of us a break, and I can go for my fitness class) and I have also taken 9 afternoons off this month and next month to coach her intensively on her subjects.

I tell my girl all the time – you will have all the time to play during June holidays, it’s time to work hard now!


2 thoughts on “School Examinations in Singapore – Common Sense Tips for Survival

  1. Jin Ting Lin says:

    I had the same issues with my girl too. She was always arguing why her brother who’s in P1 this year is allowed to play while she can’t. She’s in P5 this year and the stress is wearing me down. I’ll have to slow down and try to adopt your strategy too!

    Thanks for sharing!

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