Hello! As the month of May progresses, I am sure many of you have sat for your examinations and are getting back your marked scripts soon. Other than doing corrections when your teachers go through the errors in class, some of you may want to know what else you can do to avoid such mistakes in the future. Below, let me share with you three actions you can take when you get back your scripts, especially for Paper 2.
1. Ask your child to explain the mistakes
Two important questions to ask your children will be
- Can you explain why this answer is wrong?
- What must you do to avoid making this mistake again?
Very often, parents ask their children, “Do you know why your answer is wrong now?” and I am sure most of the children will say they do. Do they really know?
To really find out, it is definitely more useful to ask them to explain then to ask a “Yes/No” question. If your child is able to explain his or her mistakes to you, then it is likely that they have a better understanding of what went wrong and how they can prevent it in future.
2. Error analysis
Go through the different sections and pick out the errors your child had made. As your child explains why the answer was wrong, they should be able to identify whether they were careless or was it because they really did not know the answer.
Here are our suggestions on what can be done for the different types of mistakes:
If your answer is the former, you need to get into the habit of checking your work. I know some students find it tedious to go through the paper once they have completed it but imagine all the marks you can save if you are not making careless mistakes. Set aside a few minutes of the time allocated to complete the paper for checking.
For multiple-choice questions, I normally advise my students to put a cross next to the incorrect or inappropriate options so that they will not accidentally shade the wrong oval in the answer sheet.
For Booklet B where you need to write the answer down, check your spelling and tenses, especially for editing and comprehension cloze. In the comprehension open-ended section, you can refer to our Do You Use TAPS? post to find out more about how to check for mistakes in tenses, answer, punctuation and spelling.
Remember that it is very costly to make careless errors during exams and that such errors are avoidable if you spend just a bit of time checking your work. Instil this habit by making an effort to check all your work, including class and home assignments. The more you do it, the easier it becomes!
In the table below, I have tried to classify the reasons for the error and in which section of the paper you might have made them. I have also suggested some possible things you can do to help you avoid making similar mistakes in future.
3. Setting Targets
Now that you have analysed your errors, it is time to set targets. How do you do that? When setting targets, remember the 2Bs:
(a) Be specific
Specify the area of weakness you are going to focus on. Saying “I need to improve my grammar” or “I must do better for comprehension” will not be helpful. Instead, identify the exact problem (e.g. I do not know how to combine sentences using ‘unless’ and ‘if’) and take direct measures to improve it. This might include practising more of the same type of question. You can also try out some of the suggested actions I have included in the table above.
Being specific also means setting a time framework within which your goal is to be achieved. For example, a deadline can be, “By CA2, I hope to achieve…”
(b) Be realistic
For some of you who have made many errors, it may be an uphill task to try and work on all these areas of weaknesses at one go. Being realistic means starting with the areas that are easier for you to work on and gradually working your way to the more challenging ones.
Another thing about being realistic is to not set a target that is beyond your reach. For instance, if you had failed a particular section, it is unrealistic to expect to score full marks for it in the next test. Instead, you should aim to better your previous score by a few marks and gradually work towards getting the perfect score.
Our suggestion is to look at each individual section that your paper contains, come up with a simple table for yourself to record the marks achieved for each section for SA1 and your target for each section in CA2 or SA2. It may look like this:
Bear in mind to be realistic in setting achievable goals. Even a one-mark increase in each section will possibly amount to a 5 to 8 mark increment overall since there are about 5 to 8 sections in the English paper, depending on the school’s format. For P5 and P6, there are 8 sections in total. Revisit these targets every week to check if you are getting nearer to your goals. Targets can be changed but setting them helps to keep you on track.
The bottom line is, remember that it is not the end of the world if you have not performed as well as you have expected. It is better for you to examine the paper to see where you have gone wrong and focus on the areas where you can make improvements. I hope you will consider the tips I have shared with you in this post. I leave you with these inspiring words:
“There is no failure, except in no longer trying” - Elbert Hubbard
About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.