[TLL PSLE e-Book] Chapter 2: Putting In Place An Effective Revision Strategy

Posted by Denise Lee on June 08, 2018

An effective revision strategy is essential in this crucial exam year. From motivation to goal-setting, reflective learning to revision time-tabling, this e-book chapter will help you and your child put in place a game plan that leads to PSLE success.

An Introduction

Each section of this e-book chapter focuses on a key aspect of an effective revision strategy: motivation, goal setting, reflective learning, revision timetable, consolidating knowledge, review of content/skills and how teachers can help.

Throughout the e-book, we share insights from education research, key explanations of how your PSLE child can benefit from planning a revision strategy as well as tips for parents to guide their PSLE child through each stage of PSLE revision.

Additionally, you will also find exclusive insights from some TLL experts; directors and academic specialists who share their unique points-of-view and expert opinions on the PSLE revision issues that matter to you and your child.

At The Learning Lab, we want to empower your child to seek PSLE success in meaningful, relevant and effective ways. As you and your child gear up for the PSLE, know that we are here to help in any way we can.

Contents Page

  • 1. The Importance Of Motivation And Goal Setting

•  Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation
•  Motivation And Goal Setting
•  Setting Achievable Goals
•  Goal Setting And Revision
•  Hear From A TLL Expert — Goal Setting For Success

  • 2. Reflective Learning

•  What Is Reflective Learning?
•  How Reflective Learning Helps Your Child
•  Hear From A TLL Expert — Empowerment Through Reflection
•  Ways to Adopt Reflective Learning Practices For Effective PSLE Revision

  • 3. Your Child’s Revision Timetable

•  Planning The Timetable: By Time Periods, Subject or Topic?         
•  Make The Revision Timetable Work For Your Child
•  Make The Revision Timetable Your Child’s Personal Motivational Poster
•  Hear From A TLL Expert — Revision Timetable Questions, Answered!

4. Setting Up Routines

  • •  Why Routines Work
•  Pre-exam Routine
•  Post-exam Routine
•  Exam Day Routine
•  Down-time Routine
•  Hear From A TLL Expert — Yes To Routines, No To Last-minute Cramming!

  • 5. Consolidating and Reviewing

•  Consolidating Concepts, Knowledge and Skills
•  How Can My Child Consolidate Concepts, Knowledge and Skills?
•  Hear From A TLL Expert — Why Consolidating Knowledge Is Important
•  Reviewing: Knowledge vs Skills
•  Reviewing: Error Analysis
•  Common Types Of Errors And How To Avoid Them

6. Teachers’ Roles In Revision

•  Facilitating Dynamic Class Learning
•  Board Work, Group Work And Individual Work
•  Helping Your Child To Use Useful Goals
•  The Importance Of the Feedback Loop

Section 1 — The Importance Of Motivation And Goal Setting

Section 1 Importance of Motivation and Goal Setting

This PSLE year, it is important to think about how you can best motivate your Primary 6 child. We believe that it all begins with understanding the specific types of motivation that exist.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation

Motivation is largely classified into two main categories: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation refers to behaviour that is fuelled by external factors like rewards or grades. Intrinsic motivation refers to behaviour that is driven by your child’s satisfaction for accomplishing a specific task or achieving a particular goal.

When it comes to PSLE preparation, students are often influenced by both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. 

See the table below for some example statements that reflect extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. 

Statements that reflect extrinsic motivation Statements that reflect intrinsic motivation
I feel good when I receive praise for my work. I feel good when I do or learn something new.
I like receiving a reward for my hard work. I like to see just how far I can stretch my skills.
I want to do well because I want to go to my dream school. I like to achieve the goals I set for myself.
I want to do well because others expect me to. I love learning new concepts.

Motivation And Goal Setting

So how is goal setting relevant? Goal setting and motivation go hand-in-hand. The goals your child sets for himself or herself can be sources of motivation for him or her to achieve desired outcomes.

For example, if your child’s goal is to enter School X, he or she becomes motivated to achieve good grades in a particular subject in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Part of ensuring that your child’s goals are motivational is helping your child to set goals that are realistic and achievable.

Setting goals that may be too far beyond his or her reach may place added and unnecessary stress on him or her and could, conversely, become sources of demotivation.

In the next section, we share more about setting achievable goals that reflect both his or her current pace/progress as well as his or her potential.

Setting Achievable Goals

The root of a good goal is an achievable aim. For example, it isn’t realistic for a child to set a goal such as “I want to score full marks for my English and Chinese composition for every practice between now and the PSLE”.

Why? Well, when it comes to language papers, nuances in language mean that scoring full marks is quite rare.

Additionally, aiming for sustained perfection isn’t realistic because your child should have the freedom to make mistakes along the way in order to keep achieving progress by learning from past mistakes.

When your child sets achievable goals and make plans to reach them, your child is setting himself or herself up for success on a meaningful learning journey.

Here’s what the research says — goal setting is linked to your child’s motivation. Education researcher A. Bandura (1997) suggests that motivation comes from adopting a specific mindset.

By getting your child to think about what he or she wants to achieve (i.e. setting goals) and the specific plans he or she has to achieve them, your child will develop the confidence to follow through and find success.

Another key piece of research that sheds light on the importance of goal setting is Robert Wood and Edwin Locke’s (1990) work, which establishes a relationship between goals and self-efficacy (an individual’s belief in his or her ability to have control over one’s motivation and behaviour).

By encouraging your child to engage in goal-setting, you are helping him or her to achieve a higher level of self-efficacy.

Goal Setting And Revision

If your child is using a revision timetable that is planned out by the month or by the week, each time period should be tagged to specific goals. Remember, revision is not just about reviewing what has been covered in school or refreshing one’s memory — it should also be a time to make progress.

How can you and your child go about this? Establish goals that set your child up for small successes.

Instead of “Finish 3 mock papers for Science”, the goal could be “Revise 3 chapters for Science and score above 85 marks for at least one mock paper”. The goal could even be “Master 3 grammar rules that I did not understand previously”.

Remember to plan revision activities that help your child achieve these goals — the timetable will then become a tool  to map a systematic approach for your child. For more on revision planning, read section 3 of this e-book chapter.

Hear From A TLL Expert — Goal Setting For Success 

As a parent, it’s important that you take the lead in guiding your child to set goals for the year.

Read our short interview with Dr Lubna Alsagoff, Director of Curriculum at The Learning Lab, on the topic of goal setting and how it relates to success.

1. Where do I begin in helping my child succeed?

Dr Lubna: The first step in getting your child ready for success is helping him or her think about what he or she wants to achieve in the year ahead, be it academic goals or personal goals.

2. How can I help my child set goals?

Dr Lubna: Talking with your child about specific goals begins with getting him or her to reflect on areas of strengths and weaknesses. Help your child identify age-appropriate goals that are geared towards honing his or her strengths and working on areas of weakness.

3. How can I help my child achieve his or her goals?

Dr Lubna: Work together with your child to plan attainable goals, help him or her work out how to go about achieving these, and have milestones or shorter term targets to measure and track progress.

4.  Will setting goals put more stress on my child?

Dr Lubna: It is important that goal-setting should be a motivational exercise rather than a stressful activity that may discourage your child.

The short interview with Dr Lubna sheds light on several key points. Firstly, that reflection is a big part of reviewing and refining the effectiveness of goal setting.

Secondly, we learn that achieving realistic micro-goals are also critical in helping to increase your child’s motivation to achieve bigger, bolder goals.

Thirdly, we see that the exercise of goal setting is something that is intentional and thoughtful, which helps your child to become more aware of his or her own progress.

Keeping in mind the importance of reflection, motivation and goal-setting, we now turn our attention to the next section, where we discuss the importance of reflective learning in boosting your child’s PSLE revision.

Section 2 — Reflective Learning

Section 2 Reflective Learning

What Is Reflective Learning?

Reflective learning is a practice that allows your child to build inquiry skills in order to make continual progress throughout his or her learning journey.

It is part of helping your PSLE child to think more deeply about how he or she is learning. This helps with metacognition, which can be simply understood as “thinking about thinking”.

Extensive research has been conducted on the positive effects of reflective learning in schools. Particularly, the act of reflection allows students to engage a learning method called “scaffolding”, where students reflect back on past knowledge and learning experiences in order to enhance their current learning experience.

This enables them to learn more deeply and more meaningfully as they continually add on to their existing knowledge and skill sets over time.

Key research by John Dewey on reflective learning emphasise the importance of the active and dynamic nature of reflection. Rather than being considered a passive, secondary exercise, reflective learning is at once deliberate and productive. Dewey asserts that reflection is a cognitive process, one that involves inquiry and logical reasoning.

Another key figure in the research on reflective learning is David A. Kolb, whose education research work on the learning cycle and experiential learning are instrumental in understanding reflective learning. Kolb’s take on reflection is that it is a key part of the learning process and that it is useful in building observational skills.

You can find out more about Kolb’s learning cycle here.

How Reflective Learning Helps Your Child

When your child reflects on the effectiveness of how he or she picks up, retains and applies knowledge, he or she will be better able to evaluate his or her learning needs and become more aware of what needs to be done. Your child will be able to assess his or her rate of progress through each term.

Additionally, your child will also be able to think critically about what and how he or she learns.

Why does this matter? He or she will be able to consider and appreciate what he or she is learning as well as how he or she learns.

Developing such self-awareness and control through reflective learning will help your child better monitor his or her own work and make positive progress at each stage of his or her academic development.

This means that when your child inculcates reflective learning habits and practises reflective learning, he or she will be more:

  •  - confident in pursuing academic success
  •  - evaluative about how he or she learns best
  •  - capable of monitoring his or her academic progress
  •  - aware of the nature of learning as being an on-going process
  •  - motivated to learn by understanding how they learn and why certain methods are more effective than others

Hear From A TLL Expert — Empowerment Through Reflection

Lead Subject Head for English, Jenny Oh, shares her thoughts on the importance of reflective learning in the classroom and during revision time.

“The practice of reflection in itself is a metacognitive exercise, a very powerful practice that empowers the student with self-knowledge but more importantly, equips him/her with a clear directive from which to progress. 

Thus, at the core of a student’s revision before the exam should be the study of his/ her reflective journal of notes that he/she has made from his/her day-to-day learning of the subject.”


    — Jenny Oh

    , Lead Subject Head of English, The Learning Lab

Here, we see that undeniable link between reflective learning and motivation for progress. When your child better understands his or her learning habits, attitudes and the overall learning journey, there is more opportunity for him or her to be more motivated.

Find out more about how you can help your child adopt reflective learning practices below.

5 Ways to Adopt Reflective Learning Practices For Effective PSLE Revision

1. Discussion

Encourage your child to engage in conversation with peers and/or his or her teachers. Speaking about the learning and revision process is important is it helps your child to organise his or her thoughts and manage the accompanying emotions that come with the task of preparing for a major national examination

2.  Journaling 

Penning down his or her thoughts can also help your child to engage in reflective practice. Your child can note down specific areas of concern such as “Why does formula X have to be used for question type Y?” or even a general reflection such as “Learning about gerunds was fun. I can use gerunds to vary my sentence structure for my compositions.”

Such written reflection helps your child to remember what he or she has learnt in class and alerts him or her to any outstanding questions he or she may have for the teacher during revision time.

3. Observation

A key part of reflection is to observe events as they occur and link the current experience to past experiences and learning. Often, students tend to rush through their revision in a bid to cover more material.

Effective revision through reflective practice calls for a more measured approach where your child makes a conscious effort to recall how past experiences of revision, planning and or learning can contribute to a more meaningful, effective and productive experience in the present.

Observation also means your child becomes more self-aware, perhaps by adopting best practices from peers to improve his or her revision experience.

4. Recall and Review

This feature of reflective learning is very much linked to section 5 of this e-book, “Consolidating and Reviewing”. Reflective revision means that your child is able to look at past homework, tests and exam materials to recall his or her methods of question analysis, clue-sourcing, answer precision and more.

Through reflective practice, your child will become more self-aware of the common errors he or she tends to make, more attuned to his or her need to better manage time during an exam etc.

These points of consideration, when reviewed during the current PSLE revision, become learning points to do better revision planning.

5. Map and Transfer

Reflective practice for PSLE revision also requires your child to map and transfer information that has been learnt from previous terms and months. If your child is unable to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses he or she has in a particular topic/chapter, he or she will be unable to scaffold his or her learning.

Being able to use past experiences (including challenges) to improve current experiences is key in reflective, smart revision.

 Section 3 — Your Child’s Revision Timetable

Section 3 Revision Timetable

There are many ways for your child to plan a revision timetable. The most important factor of a good revision timetable is that it works because it takes into account your child’s unique character and learning habits.

A good revision timetable works because your child can keep up with it and can cover the material needed for the exams.

A timetable can be planned out by the month, by subject or even by components.

Planning The Timetable: By Time Periods, Subject of Topic?

By Specific Time Periods

Revision timetables by the month or by the week are probably the most straightforward options. It gives your child a clear idea of how many months are left till the prelims or PSLE. Moreoever, it’s easier to plan a schedule by weeks rather than by tasks.

A monthly or weekly revision timetable means that revision is not just about reviewing what has been covered in school or refreshing one’s memory — it is also a time to make progress.

See our earlier section on ‘Goal Setting And Revision’ on more insights about how goals can be tied to a revision timetable.

By Subject or Component

If your child chooses to plan a revision timetable by subject or component, it’s important to first make a list of topics/components according to how well your child has fared in past class tests or exercises.

Items that make it to the top of the list should be topics or components that your child is least confident in handling; items for which your child is not achieving his or her desired grade or target score.

For these areas for improvement, try allocating double or even triple the amount of time for revision as you would to other items that your child is more adept at.

This way, you’re giving your child more time to work on areas of weakness and still allocating time for him or her to continue honing his or her strengths.             

Make The Revision Timetable Work For Your Child

Keep it flexible!

When planning the revision timetable, it’s important that your child is not fixated on following it to a tee. Along the way, your child may need to place extra emphasis on a topic or component.

He or she may realise that more time is needed to review a previous tests’ corrections or that he or she needs less time with one chapter or another. It’s entirely okay to change the plan along the way, as long as your child generally sticks to the same amount of materials that are being covered, according to the allotted time.

P.S. If your child frequently asks for a time extension in order to complete each task, you may consider altering the plan entirely — there may be too much on his or her plate! Which brings me to the next point…

Keep it realistic!

Wanting your child to have ample revision across all subjects (inclusive of examinable topics) is normal. However, expecting your child to manage his or her school workload in addition to a hectic revision schedule may put your child at risk of burnout over a sustained period of time.

An effective revision timetable should incorporate time for breaks and pockets of time of other leisure or rest activities that your child enjoys.

Keep at it!

The beauty of having a revision timetable is that it can give your child something to work towards. It breaks up the big task (the PSLE) into small, manageable tasks (i.e. “Revise the topic of Heat” or "Plan the story curve of 2 compositions").

It gives your child the opportunity to make a concerted, sustained effort to achieve the ultimate goal of performing well at the PSLE.

Make The Revision Timetable Your Child’s Personal Motivational Poster

Think stickers, colour-coding, quotes. Whatever helps your child feel connected with his or her revision timetable, the better. Your child doesn’t have to look at his or her revision timetable as a daily chore or a restriction on his or her day.

Instead, your child should see this revision timetable as an aide or a guide to help him or her achieve small goals en route to tackling the PSLE.

Get your child to fill in the revision timetable on his or her own and to decorate it in his or her own way. Encourage him or her to check off the items that have been completed and use the revision timetable as a visual representation of his or her good effort.

In this way, learning goals are being tied closely to a visual aid, thereby reinforcing your child’s revision.

Hear From A TLL Expert — Revision Timetable Questions, Answered!

In this section, we speak with Cassondra Tioh, Subject Head For English at Marine Parade Central.

  • 1. How can parents motivate their children to stick to the revision timetable?

Parents can come up with a revision timetable together with their child. While it is tempting for a parent to organise his/her child's time, having the child take ownership of his or her own learning and studying can make this new habit stick!

Parents might want to plan to work together with their child; though it doesn't necessitate that the parent watches over every single written word like a hawk, being physically present means your child can turn to you for help. 

Try getting your child to “teach” you; it helps your child to cement the information he or she has learnt through verbal explanation or even visualisation. Don’t forget to celebrate each milestone and be supportive of your child's emotional needs.

  • 2. Would you recommend that students do a mix of subjects within each day of revision? Why?

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all revision method. Plan a schedule that allows you to cover what is necessary, be it one subject or multiple subjects. More often than not, in Singapore’s academic climate, your child may be tugged in all directions, with each subject demanding attention.

Revision that covers mix of subjects within a day allows your child to have bite-size revision for a subject each day and would also be refreshing to change a topic every hour. It also ensures that your child does not neglect one subject in favour of another.

As your child’s greatest support system, you also play a crucial role in helping your child to establish certain routines before and after each examination period. Find out more in the next section. 

Cassondra’s insights emphasise the importance of parental guidance when it comes to planning and enforcing your PSLE child’s revision timetable as well as when it comes to aiding your child’s revision.

Section 4 — Setting Up Routines

Section 4 Routines

Why Routines Work

Some children thrive on having a routine — it gives them stability, a sense of purpose and familiarity. While every child’s routine may be different, there are some elements that can be effective in helping your child prepare for each exam he or she will face this year.

Below, we detail some types of routines you can consider helping your child establish.

Pre-exam Routine

Make the most of pockets of time

Besides the usual elements like getting enough rest and having a revision schedule, you might consider adding elements of discipline — allocated pockets of time for free play, sport, non-curricular activities, planning a post-exam treat/trip etc.  

By breaking down days into small pockets of time, your child can be more task-centric instead of being overwhelmed by big goals.

Stay in good company

It can be tough to prepare for a series of papers or exams. It’s important to reassure your child that each person studies or revises differently. He or she should surround himself or herself with positive influences.

You might even speak to other parents and form study groups — this ensures that your child and his/her friends have safe environments to study in. It may also reassure your child to know that his or her friends are going through the same PSLE journey.

Post-exam Routine

Don’t get hung up on what you can’t change

After the paper, it is only natural that your child wants to discuss questions and answers with his or her friends! However, if the paper was particularly challenging, it’s important to assure your child that once the paper is over, it’s best to focus on the remaining papers.

“In the event that students have a bad experience with an exam paper, they should remind themselves that mistakes made are opportunities to learn, and that they should channel all their focus into doing their best for the following papers.

There is little one can do about what has already been done, but what lies ahead is still within his or her realm of control. Think of it as a fun video game — with the goal being that you should top your own high score. The game isn't over until the student reaches the final stage!”

  • — 

    Grace Aik, Subject Head for English, TLL Tampines 

Exam Day Routine

Have breakfast

Don’t skip the first meal of the day. Going into an exam on an empty stomach could leave your child feeling ravenous or light-headed during the paper. Avoid foods that are too spicy or rich as a potentially nervous student may feel nauseated.

Not sure what the best breakfast food may be? Try picking something that could boost brain power!

Arrive at school with time to spare

On the day of the exam, make sure your child arrives at school early so there’s no anxiety about being on time for the paper. Having about half an hour or so before the paper begins is ideal — it gives your child time to visit the restroom, have some water and to calm down before sitting for the exam.

Keep the books away!

On the day of the exam, trying to force more revision may end up doing your child more harm than good. If your child continues revising and trying to memorise information right up until the last minutes before the paper, he or she may start to feel overwhelmed or flustered.  

It’s important to remind your child that he or she should be confident of the revision that’s been completed!

Down-time Routine

Build in time with family

Family time is important even during the revision period. Planning a short outing to a museum, taking a family walk in the park or watching a movie together are all examples of simple activities that give your child a break from studying.

Having a healthful meal with family can be a great way to help your child recharge for the new week ahead. Whether you’re dining out or having a home-cooked meal at home, it’s the company and the quality time that matters! 

Making a habit of eating well and away from the books is important for your child — revision time shouldn’t mean that your child has to compromise on health, mealtimes or rest.

Review the plan for the upcoming week

Set aside half an hour on the weekend to go through the revision plan for the upcoming week. Consider allocating some time for topics or chapters that your child may need extra revision time for.

Alternatively, your child may consider reducing the amount of time he or she previously allocated for topics or components in the upcoming week.

Remember to review the goals that have been set for the upcoming week. Are they realistic? Are they achievable? If so, how can they be adjusted? Asking and answering such questions can help to refine your child’s PSLE revision plan.

Hear From A TLL Expert — Yes To Routines, No To Last-minute Cramming!

Grace Aik, Subject Head for English at TLL Tampines, shares how her experience with students have led her to see the value in having routines.

She remarks that having a routine “allows students to form habits, which is the key to sustaining the momentum they need when they are studying.”

She also suggests that routines allow students to “get into the right state of mind for studying much more quickly and effectively.”

When asked about last cramming, Grace warns that “last minute cramming may ‘work’ in the short run, but very little gets transferred to students’ long term memories.”

She feels that students may “end up having to do double the work” and that it may mean “a lack of sleep and elevated levels of stress —  two things that will definitely stand in the way of students producing their best work.”

These insights from Grace shed light on the importance of forming and enforcing good revision habits and helping your child to manage stress levels, especially when dealing with vast amounts of content to revise.

In the next section, you can find out more about how to help your child revise effectively by consolidating and reviewing what he or she has already learnt.

Section 5 — Consolidating and Reviewing

Section 5 Consolidating and Reviewing

Consolidating Concepts, Knowledge and Skills

One of the major challenges that students face during PSLE revision is the ability to consolidate all they have learnt through lower and upper primary years.

This can seem like an overwhelming task for your child, but it is important to remember that upper primary curriculum builds on the fundamentals that have been established in lower primary.

This means that your child does not need to revise 5 to 6 years’ worth of curriculum. Rather, by consolidating concepts, knowledge and skills, child will be able to recall the relevant information and apply the relevant skills for each topic or component.

How Can My Child Consolidate Concepts, Knowledge and Skills?

Aside from handwritten notes, topical exercises, past-year papers and quizzes, your child can also consider using mind maps or concept maps to consolidate his or her knowledge. This will be particularly helpful if your child tends to retain information more effectively with visual cues.

Some students may find it easier to consolidate knowledge by recording handwritten notes by reading them aloud and playing it back whilst looking at his or her notes. The dual stimulation in the forms of sound (the recording) and sight (looking at the notes) may help your child to consolidate knowledge.

In order to consolidate skill sets, your child needs to put these skills into practice.

Apart from setting aside time to attempt both topical and past-year paper practices, your child may also choose to try out challenging questions by topic or chapter in order to see how well his or her application of skills and recall of knowledge can help him or her score marks.

Hear From A TLL Expert — Why Consolidating Knowledge Is Important

Our Lead Subject Head of Mathematics, Choo Swee Heng highlights the complexity of the PSLE requirements and how best to help your child tackle PSLE revision. Hear her thoughts below:

“As PSLE tests concepts and techniques learnt throughout the primary years, students need to ensure they are on task with every topic through consistent practising. 

Especially for the upper primary years, keeping a notebook of consolidated Mathematics formulas, sample problems and a personal collection of critical sums for recapitulation will be a tremendous help for ongoing revision as well.”



    Choo Swee Heng, Lead Subject Head of Mathematics, The Learning Lab

Reviewing: Knowledge vs Skills

Topical review

For subjects such as Math and Science, it is important to help your child make a list of examinable topics and chapters.  Knowledge mastery is important — go through the notes and past homework for each topic of chapter and ensure that your child takes note of the key concepts, rules, formulae and facts.

In addition to helping your child to recall the essentials of each topic of chapter, these notes will be good for quick reading and revision. Moreover, your child should also take note of the key question types and corresponding key words for each topic or chapter.

Why is this important? Key word analysis helps your child better understand the requirements of the question so that he or she might know how to form a precise answer.

Component based review

This form of review allows your child to take stock of his or her past application of topics, themes and chapters. You may consider asking your child to compile his or her notes and past test papers and organise them topic/chapter as well as by component.

For example, all notes for Geometry can be compiled in one folder of two sections: multiple choice and word problems.

Your child should also take note of the types of questions that he or she has attempted, the method required to answer each of those questions and if he or she was able to tackle these questions.

This will give you and your child a better idea of which topics/chapters/question types needs more review or revision.

Past exam papers review

Often, your child may be fixated on practising new test papers in the lead up to each exam. However, it is also important for your child to look at his or her past examinations, particularly those taken at the upper primary levels.

Reviewing exam questions and answers from past examination papers gives your child an opportunity to see what types of questions they might expect in upcoming papers.

It also allows your child to look at how he or she performs under exam pressure: does he or she lack confidence in managing a specific section of the paper or in tackling specific question types? Does he or she have problems completing the examination paper on time?

Identifying areas of weakness is the first step in helping your child employ some smart revision tactics.

Reviewing: Error Analysis

What is error analysis and why is it important?

Error analysis is a skill that students at The Learning lab hone in middle and upper primary years. It is a process of looking through the mistakes he or she makes for each piece of homework, each class test or quiz and each exam paper. While it may sound tedious, it is important for your child to identify areas of weakness.

For error analysis to be an effective part of PSLE revision, ask your child to not only identify the questions he or she has answered wrongly but also to take time to understand why he or she has made these mistakes. By identifying the cause of each error, your child can seek specific, detailed help to avoid making the same mistakes at the PSLE.

Over 17 years of experience in preparing PSLE students to achieve success has given The Learning Lab to glean some keen insights on the common errors students make. For each subject and component, teachers find that students tend to make errors in terms of precision (accuracy) and relevance.

As part of helping PSLE students to build a growth mindset — one that motivates them to make continual progress — we emphasise that it is just as important for students to understand their errors as it is for them to score well in the exams.

Common Types Of Errors And How To Avoid Them

English (Comprehension Open Ended)

Common Error The Learning Lab’s Top Tips
Incomplete answer  Always check the mark allocation before attempting your answers.
Failure to understand the passagelong and difficult passages.  Use headers and annotations to break down.

Attempt to put yourself in the characters’ shoes to better understand their feelings/actions.

Ask yourself critical thinking questions as you read the passage.

For example: Why was this character described as a poor man?How do I know this? 
Failure to answer the questions directly Always mark out the subject and question word to ensure that you address the question.

Math (Word Problems)

Common Error The Learning Lab’s Top Tips
Unable to identify the correct concept Familiarise yourself with identifiers for each type of concept.
Omission of number sentences, workings and final answer statement / blank Adopt the habit of writing out full number sentences and show all workings on theright side of the page. Ensure that you fill in the final answer onthe given blank or write out the full answer statement as your final step.
Keying in calculator values wrongly Have an estimate of the value that you will get and think logically whether what youhave obtained is reasonable.
 Presentation Error  Be especially careful when dealing with fractions and percentage. Develop a goodhabit in the presentation of solution.

Science (FRQ)

Common Error The Learning Lab’s Top Tips
Incomplete answer Revise past work to familiarise yourself with the phrasing or points needed for a complete answer.
Not answering in context of question.  Check your answer to ensure references have been made to the relevant information in the question.
No comparison shown Check your answer to ensure comparative or superlative terms have been used.
Inaccurate phrasing / no keywords /lack of keywords Jot down relevant keywords based on the concept tested in the question.


Section 6 — Teachers’ Roles In Revision

Section 6 Tecaher's Role

Facilitating Dynamic Class Learning

Revision time, particularly for PSLE students, can feel stressful. There is a lot to revise and remember. Therefore, teachers are tasked in creating opportunities for students to engage in dynamic and fun revision in class.

There are several ways in which your child’s teacher might go about this. It could be through the use of memory games that help students to recall specific knowledge or even a class-wide mind mapping exercise that helps your child expand his or her knowledge and understanding by learning from and observing his or her peers. 

Dynamic class learning takes away the monotony of constant revision by allowing a single lesson to be broken up into smaller, more manageable tasks with mixed types of interactions between teacher and student as well as between students.

This helps your child be more motivated to revise and more likely to retain information.

Board Work, Group Work And Individual Work

Your child’s teachers have a deep responsibility in creating and nurturing a classroom environment that promotes effective learning and effective revision. In class, in order to conduct effective revision, recall of past knowledge and skills should be employed in different ways.

For example, the use of board work allows students to use written work and visual cues to recall, recollect and refine their existing understanding of a particular theme, topic or subject.

Additionally, a mix of group work and individual work not only helps to add diversity to the forms of in-class revision but also offers your child the chance to learn from his or her peers through observation and scaffolding during group work.

It also allows your child to engage in reflective practice and metacognition during time for individual work.

Helping Your Child To Use Useful Goals

Teachers play an important role in helping your child to work on achieving the goals that he or she has planned out at the start of each term. Through observation of in-class behaviour as well as submitted homework, tests and exams, teachers will be able to assess the rate of your child’s progress in achieving those goals.

In addition, he or she will then be able to advise you and your child if these goals need to be altered and what specific steps your child may need to take to achieve these goals within the desired time frame.

The Importance Of The Feedback Loop

In learning and assessment, it is important that your child’s teacher gives you and your PSLE child timely, constructive and targeted feedback.

Timely feedback

After each piece of written work, each class test, each topical quiz and each termly assessment, your child’s teacher should provide feedback on the completed work.

Ideally, your child should receive either verbal feedback in class and/or written feedback in the form of an attached checklist or notes.

Constructive feedback

At any stage of your child’s PSLE journey, motivation is important. Every child deserves to enjoy the learning process and feel empowered to achieve success. Teachers should provide constructive and specific feedback whether it comes in the form of verbal feedback or written feedback.

For example, if your child’s teacher points out that a question is “Incorrect”, it should be followed by a reason. An example of constructive feedback would be, “Incorrect. The unit you’ve used is wrong. Remember to check your answers carefully.”

This feedback draws your child’s attention to what the mistake is and how he or she can avoid making the same mistake — that’s constructive.

Targeted feedback

The specificity of the feedback that your child receives is important as it affects how relevant it will be to his or her revision process. Targeted feedback must also be constructive (see above) but it should be related to the subject/component/skill and tied to particular actions your child can take to achieve progress. 

An example of targeted feedback might be, “For questions that require you to make a comparison, remember to identify the variable that changes. Remember to use the key words you’ve marked out in the question in order to form relevant and precise answers.

This is important for Science FRQs.” Here, we see that the subject (Science), component  (FRQ – comparison question) and skills (key word analysis and answer precision) are integrated in the feedback.

Great Resources For A Great Revision Journey

The Learning Lab has a wealth of resources you and your child can benefit from. Don't miss out on advice, study tips and essential education articles.

In Case You Missed It:
PSLE e-book Chapter 1:  A Parent's Guidebook To The PSLE

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Topics: PSLE