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3 Effective Techniques to ACE Primary English Examinations

“How can I help my child to improve his/her English other than encouraging him/her to read more?”

Well, reading will definitely support your child’s language development and this is something your child has to continue doing. Besides reading, you can also teach your child some other techniques that may help him/her to perform better during examinations.

Target Setting

Before we talk about examination techniques, let’s have a look at target setting first.

“How much do you want to achieve for English paper?”

“Hmm… 90?”

I believe that this is quite a common question asked by many parents. However, have you ever wondered how your child can achieve 90 marks? To set a realistic target, you will need to find out and understand the components that make up the English examination.

For upper primary levels, the components that will be assessed are:

  1. Oral Communication (30 marks)
  2. Listening Comprehension (20 marks)
  3. Paper 1: Situational Writing and Continuous Writing (55 marks)
  4. Paper 2: Grammar MCQ, Vocabulary MCQ, Visual Text Comprehension, Comprehension Cloze etc (95 marks)

Sit down with your child and go through every single component, after which ask how much he/she wants to achieve for each component and then tabulate the total. This simple target setting exercise will set a more realistic and clearer goal for your child. With a clear goal in mind, it will be easier for your child to aim and achieve!

Techniques to use during examinations


1. Avoid speed reading – Use the C H A R technique

Techniques to ACE Primary English Examinations

Some students have a tendency to speed read passages and, as a result, end up losing marks on grammar components. Let’s take a look at one of the common mistakes made by students.

Example 1:

This was one of the most difficult ( decision / decisions ) I had ever made.

Some children would choose ‘decision’ as the answer. In this situation, they probably only focused on the word ‘one’ and quickly assumed decision’ as the answer.

It will definitely take plenty of practices and patience to teach your child to read slowly and carefully. Besides reading carefully, you can get your child to highlight clues. Ask him/her to justify answers and cultivate the habit of asking questions such as  “Why did I choose this answer?” and “How do I justify that’s the answer?”.


Example 2: 

Do you know that eating too much sugar (is / are) bad for you?


You can also teach your child to use arrows to make connections like this:

In a way, it may also help them to avoid making careless mistakes!


2. Read the questions first for comprehension passages

Get your child to read the questions first and then think of possible answers while going through the questions. By doing so, it reduces the tendency for your child to copy answers directly from the passage while helping him/her to put on his/her thinking cap.

Example 1:

Passage: The moon shone brightly above Jim’s head.


Question: When did the incident happen?

Before reading the passage, encourage your child to think of some possible answers while going through the questions.  Elicit responses such as- it can be morning, afternoon or night. After reading the passage, your child may be able to infer that the incident happened during the night.


Example 2:

Passage: The moon shone brightly above Jim’s head. He took out his jacket and put it on.


Question: Why did Jim take out his jacket and put it on?


Answer: He was feeling cold.

Such a question probably does not even require you to refer from the passage. What your child needs to do is to simply think of a possible and logical answer.


3. Checking

“My child always claims that he has checked but still fails to check properly and ends up losing marks unnecessarily!”

Does this sound familiar? This is quite a common problem faced by many children. Have you ever wondered why your child has problems spotting his/her mistakes? They probably do not even know what to check for! Thus, it is important to teach them how to check specifically. What you can do with your child is to get him/her to check on these specific areas:

Techniques to ACE Primary English Examinations


Why do we need to check the answer first? Well, it will be pointless to check your spelling or tenses when your answer is completely wrong. Let’s have a look at one example.

Example: Synthesis and Transformation

Question: Jill does not like to swim. Her children do not like to swim too.

Incorrect answer: Neither Jill nor her children do not like to swim.

In some instances, children may misread “neither” as ‘either’.

Correct answer: Neither Jill nor her children like to swim.  (A P T S)

Thus, it is important to get your child to check if the answer is correct first. When your child is sure that his/her answer is correct, it makes more sense for him/her to check on the tenses or spelling. To ensure that proper checking takes place, you may get your child to cross out the relevant aspects once he/she has done the checking (like so: A P T S).

I hope that such specific techniques are useful in helping your child perform better during the examinations. However, reading widely is still the best way in supporting your child’s language development.


Sources: [1]



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