The Primary Entrance Examination (PSLE) is a major academic milestone in children’s academic progress. At this point, it is essential for you and your child to have a concrete plan. By making sure that your child has everything they need to do well in the PSLE, you can enable them to focus on productive learning and effective revision.

1. Develop a Revision Plan
By having a revision schedule, your child just needs to follow the schedule which will ensure that they are sufficiently prepared for the exams. They will not panic or give in to anxiety nearing the date of the exams if they know that they have followed the timetable set and have done the best that they can to prepare. When drawing up their timetable, be sure to set aside more time for weaker subjects, and constant revision will give them the momentum that they need in the months leading up to the big day. Even just doing half an hour of revision a day will keep your child’s mind familiar with the material, just like daily practice for athletes to maintain their stamina and muscular strength. While following your revision plan, your child should have confidence in answering questions from various topics. If they do not feel confident, it may be time to assess the problems they are having in the topic and get external help for them such as a tutor, or enrolling them in a tuition centre.

2. Exam Simulation
It is common for students to do well in homework and other assignments that do not have time constraints but to fall apart in major exams or tests. This has to do with performance anxiety as well as poor time management during the paper itself. In order to elevate their anxiety, parents can simulate exam conditions at home by setting a timer and invigilating your child’s attempts at past year papers. This will get them used to the stress of the exam environment and teach them to manage their time well. It may take up some of the parent’s time as well, but this method is especially useful for students who are easily anxious or do their paper too slowly.

3. Praises and Encouragement
During this stressful period, it is easy to get carried away by parental expectations on the child and neglect their emotional needs. Children are emotionally driven, and they respond best to praises and encouragement, particularly for learning. Negative feedback such as blaming, shouting, threats and comparison to better students will bring down the child’s morale and cause them to associate learning with unpleasant feelings. It is vital to maintain a stress-free household in this period and use positive reinforcement to stimulate their capacity for learning. A happy child learns faster and remembers better than an upset one. If they are tired, allow them to rest and take some time away from constant revision, and let them come back to the subject when they are refreshed and ready for more. One hour of alert and enthusiastic revision is better than 10 hours of tired, forced and half-hearted work. Make sure to reward them for the right attitude and encourage learning to satisfy their curiosity rather than just to score for exams.

4. Taking Care of Their Health
There are many aspects to health, such as adequate sleep and water, the right diet, exercise, and even supplements and tonics. There is no substitute for eight hours of sleep every night, and this is the best health advice anyone can give your child. Sleeping helps to retain information and repair any bodily damage, giving them an energy boost the next day. A “zombified” child will not be acing any exams.
The right diet is different for every individual, and the consensus is to avoid fast food, junk food, snacks, sugary drinks and desserts for the most part. All things in moderation, and a little comfort food on days when they crave for it is still permissible. In general, incorporate more vegetables and lean meat in their diet for better nutrition, and a diverse diet is more important than any particular “superfood” that is in trend.
As for health supplements, it is important to ensure that they have all the vitamins and minerals that they need to grow. However, bear in mind that children’s bodies are very sensitive, so before you spend money and time brewing the perfect tonic for your child, make sure that it does not cause unpleasant side effects like rashes, stomach upset, or nausea. Around the time of the exam, do not introduce new tonics or supplements that are “guaranteed to make your child smarter.” They may react badly to it and create a whole host of problems instead. Stick to tried and tested methods such as drinking enough water or eating fruit to boost sugar levels.

5. Stress Management
In this difficult period, perhaps your child would ask you fearfully, “What would happen to me if I fail PSLE?” This is a sign of your child feeling overwhelmed by the stress of the exams, and it is vital to assure them that regardless of how they perform, your love for them will not change, as long as they put in the hard work. This is also a good time to talk to them about their future prospects and give them a goal to work towards. What is your child’s aspiration? What is his or her desired choice of secondary school, dream college, or career path? Setting goals with your child subtly strengthen the importance of studying hard to help your child achieve these goals, without giving them undue pressure.

PSLE is the first major exam in our lives, and it is normal to attribute great significance to it. The truth is that there is life beyond PSLE, and this is only the beginning of the academic ladder that they have to climb. Equip your child with the right studying methods, a positive attitude and self-discipline, and they will use these skills to soar to greater heights in the future.