Exams are coming soon! With so little time, most will think it’s impossible for a child improve by 5 to 10 marks.

It’s possible!

So in this post, we want to share with you 2 strategies we have successfully used to help many students to improve by 5 to 10 marks and even 20 marks within a very short time.

In fact, by consistently using these strategies, a few of our students have almost doubled her marks to ‘A’. One even did it within a week!

Strategy 1. Identify and eliminate careless mistakes

Please repeat after me “Mistakes are my best friend.

I’m not kidding. Yes, many children felt “bad” about making them and many parents felt quite sad because they felt that their kids shouldn’t have made these mistakes in the first place.

There’s GUILT.

While many got confused and wondered how the grades can be improved, they also overlooked that the mistakes made are clear indicators of areas they must work on.

I have listed out the common careless mistakes below (and lately while observing how one of my students is solving a math word problem, I have discovered another type of mistakes)

A. Copying the wrong number

While reading the word problem, a child sees “16” but he writes “19”. It can also happen when the child is moving from one step to the other in his workings. The worst thing that can happen is the child has found the right answer but wrote the wrong one in his answer box. Mark will definitely be deducted.

B. Writing the wrong units

The answer should be in “cm” but the child wrote “m”. Or the answer is to be given in “kg” but the child found the answer in “grams” instead. Some schools are very strict. Instead of deducting half mark, they deduct 1 mark for every wrong unit they see.

C. Illegible handwriting

This is one of the most common mistakes. The good news is that this is easily avoidable. For example, a child wrote “1000” but the zeros look like “6” and so it’ looks like “1666”. Sometimes, the child can’t even read his own handwriting. So keeping the handwriting neat and legible helps.

D. Keying in the wrong number while using the calculator

The child read “16” from his question but keyed in “19” or he read “100” from the display panel of his calculator but he wrote “200” on his paper.

E. Writing the wrong operations “+, -. x, /”

The child knows that he is supposed to multiply but he wrote a “+” instead of “x”.

Of course, there may be other types of careless mistakes which I didn’t add in. (If you know of any others, do let me know. Thanks! 🙂

The key message here is to keep these mistakes to a minimal or (better still) not making them at all. I once did an assessment for a child and I discovered that the careless mistakes she made add up to 20 marks.

20 MARKS!!! (Can you imagine what her actual standard is?)

She did fail her Math but adding that 20 marks would have pushed her to become a ‘B’ grade student.

She’s in fact a ‘B’ student!

So, improving your grades can start off with taking simple steps like this – analysing, grouping and eliminating the careless mistakes gradually.

So what you can do now is…

Go through the CA1 papers or any revision or mock SA1 papers within this day or two, identify the careless mistakes, bring them to awareness. This means you discuss with your child what the mistakes are and ask your child how s/he can be more careful.

Reassure your child that is OK to get it wrong. Just don’t do it twice.

You will be surprised that most children know what they should do but they hesistated to share what they ought to do, for fear of being scolded or criticised by others.

Strategy 2. If time is really limited (like now), just redo the school’s CA1 and revision papers

Going through the CA1 is necessary even though the child may have tons of top school papers to complete or he feels reluctant to do it because of various reasons such as poor grades or bad experience.

This step is crucial because from a psychological perspective, the child must learn to walk through the “bad” experience again so that he can learn to come out of it as a better person.

He must be able to face and acknowledge that he has not met the expectation in the past, to find out what the mistakes are, to find the solutions for them and then to move on to better grades. This in fact is part of human nature – all of us yearn to do better.

Nowadays students have so much homework that parents and teachers ended up giving the children the answers plus the workings due to limited time.

“So this is the working and the answer. Copy them and go back home and figure it out yourself.”

I have heard many similar feedbacks from my parents that many school math teachers are doing this. (I do not want to name the schools but similar incidents happen in certain schools) Well, we can’t control what’s already happening in schools, but we can help our children refine their learning strategies by providing our children the learning experience so that they learn to discover the solutions to their math problems as well as other similar questions.

So what you can do now is…

While there isn’t enough time to allow your child do all the questions which he got wrong previously, it is important to pick some key questions addressing different concepts and get your child to experience the learning process. Once he is able to solve them, the skill to solve probably sticks longer compared to providing him the solution.

At the same time, their results are going to increase by a lot!

Don’t tell the child “This is what you should do.” Do say “Now you have reached this step. What do you need to do now to move just one step ahead?

Sprinkle hints or clues now and then in order to encourage the child to think of how to move closer to his answer. In short, be their lamp posts and guide them towards the answer. Once the child is able to solve the question by himself, his confidence is going to soar and he will feel more competent.

Find out more in our PSLE math tuition class !