When Should You Start Preparing for Exams?

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Although a small percentage of students thrive on last minute ‘cramming’, your child is definitely better off being well-prepared in advance for the exams.

Is there a correct time to start studying? “Practice makes perfect” is a saying we all know well, and I think for most of us, those are words that ring true. Some students can survive off last minute studying, but most of us aren’t able to do so. We need to give ourselves enough time to study, and you need to plan this in advance for your child.

As to how much time, that will depend on the age or grade of your child. I have found that a month prior to exams works well for grade 4’s. But, how to get started?

How to get started?

The best place to start is to determine what type of learner your child is. Often, parents don’t understand how their child learns or know how best to help them. You can’t assume that your child learns the same way you do. You need to determine whether your child is a visual learner (learn through seeing), an auditory learner (learn through listening) or a kinaesthetic learner (learn through moving, doing, touching – experiencing). Or perhaps your child is a combination of two. There are very effective tests online to determine this.

Once you’ve determined what type of learner your child is, dig further to find out what study techniques best suit their learning style.  Here are a few suggestions …

Visual Learners

CAPS Practice Exams Maths South Africa

  • Make mind maps
  • Use cue cards
  • Take notes and summarise material
  • Use highlighters and coloured pens to summarise

Auditory Learners

South African School Exams Resources

  • Repeat facts with eyes closed
  • Record notes after writing them
  • Repeat things orally
  • Tell someone what has been learnt

Kinaesthetic Learners

Exam Past Papers South Africa

  • Study in short blocks
  • Pace while learning
  • Write lists repeatedly
  • Use flashcards to memorise

Also remember to try different study techniques (from the examples – a combination may be needed) to see what works for your child during exam preparation.

Schedule time to cover each subject

Next, take the exam timetable and write down how many exams there are (the subjects) and the content of these exams.

Let’s use the subject History as an example:

  • What is History?
  • What makes a good leader?
  • Nelson Mandela:  A good leader and timeline
  • Nelson Mandela – research page
  • Mohandas Gandhi – research page
  • Mahatma Gandhi – information and timeline
  • What can we learn from Mandela and Gandhi?

Once this is completed, spread the breakdown over the month period (or period of your choice) before the exams actually commence. This can be done effectively by using a grid or calendar of the time frame required. Always remember you may want to give some subjects more study time than others. You’ll have to find a balance that your child feels comfortable with and that suits them best.

Exam preparation – how to test your child’s knowledge?

It is also important to remember that, even if you feel your child is independent enough to study alone, you must still step in and revise with them often. This will help break up their study time and help you to monitor how they are coping and what they are accomplishing.

  • Practice old exam papers (try WorksheetCloud!) – this helps to get your child’s eye focused on the format of questions.
  • Make up tests based on content in their textbooks and workbooks (again, try WorksheetCloud!) – this can also help relieve anxiety and boost your child’s confidence.
  • Ask questions verbally – your child must explain their answers
  • Get different people to ask – people think differently, so good exposure to different questioning techniques

You might want to try WorksheetCloud as it will save you time with making up tests and finding old exam papers. Everything is created for you and your child can start practising for class tests and exams immediately, all based on the CAPS curriculum.

Study skills tips

Here are the 11 Important Study Tips you should know …

  1. Determine what type of learner your child is.
  2. Find a study method that suits your child.
  3. Provide a space to study.
  4. Organise work before starting to study.
  5. Set a study time span.
  6. Create a timetable.
  7. Teach how to make sacrifices.
  8. Be prepared to make your own sacrifices.
  9. Empower your child.
  10. Remember that each child is different.
  11. Your child needs YOU.

Other ways to enhance effective studying

  • Snack on ‘brain food’ – fish, nuts, seeds, yoghurt and blueberries. This impacts positively on energy levels, aids concentration and memory.
  • Drink water
  • Get sufficient sleep (read our post on healthy eating and sleeping during exam time)

Your child’s desire to do well is strongly determined by your attitude towards exams and studying. By actively being involved in your child’s schooling from an early age you can demonstrate the importance of studying. As your child learns to work independently you can gradually remove yourself, but continue to provide support by revising with them and supplying wholesome snacks.

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About the Author

Adele Keyser has 27 years experience in teaching pre-primary, foundation phase, intermediate-senior phase and adult education. That's 27 years experience in dealing with children (and parents!). Currently teaching in Cape Town, her major focus is building classroom environments that foster healthy self-esteem and help children realise what they're capable of.

13 Comments

  1. tania Meyer

    This is a fantastic site! My child is so excited, the minute I received my email, she insisted that I have to print one! She ended up to complete two the same day! Wow!

    Reply
    • Adrian Marnewick

      Thanks so much Tania! That’s really great to hear. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Karen vd Merwe

    I have two children. One 9 and 10. They are both Afrikaans and i started worksheetcloud and they enjoy it and practice there English.I think they going to need it after school.

    Reply
    • Adrian Marnewick

      Thanks for letting us know Karen. Always good to hear success stories. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Jeanette Maree

    Hi there,
    I love this blog. Thank you so much. My grade 5 boy is probably auditory (I think). We both love the worksheets on your web site and it helps a lot. He also read the work while recording himself on his cell phone. He then lies on his bed, listening to his own recording again. 🙂 Its just something different, but I find it works.

    Is it possible for Worksheet Cloud to direct me to a test that will help us determine his true learning style?

    thanks for a great product,
    Jeanette

    Reply
    • Adrian Marnewick

      Thanks for your comments Jeanette! We’re very encouraged that you’re enjoying our blog content as well as WorksheetCloud itself.

      That’s a really interesting way in which your son revises his work! I think I’m going to try that with my son this weekend. 😀

      We don’t really have any specific tests that determine learning style, but if you send a message to us via our contact page at https://www.worksheetcloud.com/contact/ I’ll be able to put you in touch with a teacher who might be able to assist you with this.

      Adrian 🙂

      Reply
  4. Adrian

    Hi there

    Is it possible that a child can be a combination of Kinaesthetic and Auditory.? My son aged 11 hates to make notes , but prefers if you ask him verbally. When there a difficult words in the text , I make him spell it out so that he can remember how to write it.
    I find that with the Kinaesthetic, he is always moving, if not throwing a ball against the wall its getting up and down and moving around. I have learnt to do the studying in short blocks in order to get a bit more attention from him. Its frustrating because what could take an hour , sometimes takes us three with all the breaks in between.

    Reply
    • Adele Keyser

      Hi, it is absolutely possible that your child is both Kinaesthetic and Auditory and will therefore benefit from studying by using methods recommended for both. Adele

      Reply
  5. Susan

    Hi there

    Where can I have my son tested in Afrikaans to see what study method suits him best

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Susan

      I would advise that you look for a good site online to find out how best your son will study. Google “learning styles” – you’ll then be able to read up about various learning styles and a find a questionnaire/test to ascertain which one best suits your son.

      I hope this helps.
      Adele Keyser

      Reply
  6. Janet

    Hi there
    I always make notes and hight light the answers, which she learns from, however at school when the have study break she will also make notes in different colours! So this week end is studying time as they are writing NS on Tuesday, I also printed out ur question and answers on certain topics! Hold thumps

    Reply
  7. felicity

    I want my child to be ready for the exams and that she must have less stres during exams.

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Felicity

      Thanks for your message.

      A great study and exam preparation resource, that can help your child prepare for exams effectively, is WorksheetCloud.

      WorksheetCloud is an online resource that gives you access to interactive and printable worksheets to help your child revise and practise for class tests and exams. All the worksheets are based on the South African CAPS curriculum which means that they are 100% relevant to the work your child is doing in class.

      We also include detailed memorandums that include the answers and model explanations and working-out for each and every question.

      You can see our full product tour which includes screenshots on this page: http://www.worksheetcloud.com

      You can also see a full list of subjects and topics we currently cover on this page: http://www.worksheetcloud.com/worksheets/

      I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us at any time or visit our FAQ at http://help.worksheetcloud.com for quick answers to your questions.

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply

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