Posts Tagged ‘PSLE’

Overcoming Anxiety for Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE)

Primary School Leaving Examination in Singapore is round the corner and it is the final examination in the primary school that many parents place high priority on and send their children for tuition and any other help to ensure that they excel for this examination. In schools, students are also emphasized the importance of this examination and students are geared early to prepare for it.

Hence, in a way, students are given the pressure of going through the PSLE and needless to say most would feel the tension even before they sit for the examination itself.

I have been asked by friends on how I helped Brendan to overcome the PSLE stress, how I prepared him for his successful admission into the integrated programme in the secondary school, and my personal views on tuition to aid in achieving academic excellence. So, I will share this post on my personal experience. As for our personal insights on integrated programme and views on tuition, let’s share it in a separate post. In fact, this post can be applied on any examination and not only PSLE.


As I have mentioned before, I never believe in last minute preparation or burning midnight oil for my children. As PSLE syllabi cover that of earlier years too, I advised Brendan to revise early the P3-5 syllabi at his own pace. The key is to UNDERSTAND and not MEMORIZE without understanding. Understanding the concepts allow them to be able to handle the questions even if they are phrased in a different manner.

Paying attention in class and clarifying doubts as soon as new topics are taught are useful. Understand our children’s weaknesses in certain subjects earlier and work on it. Even when I was holding a full-time job, I have always made it a point to constantly review our boys’ progress and learning aptitude without leaving it to a third party.

[As primary 6 syllabi are often taught in a fast pace, in view that school preliminary examination is held early, students are often given not much time to revise their complete syllabi for PSLE if they do not practise regular revisions or ask/find out as soon as they do not understand the approach.]


A healthy mind is critical in helping our children to focus and think.

- Encourage enough SLEEP and short nap (20 to 30 minutes) in between revisions to ensure an alert mind and better health.

- Stop what I call as “harrassment of the mind”.  Avoid imposing additional pressure by making comparison about academic progress with peers.

- Introduce more fresh air and greenery to the eyes. Morning nature walk or evening nature walk after a hectic day of studies really does wonder to the tired mind. Simple exercises like kids’ yoga helps too.

- Give the mind a break. Despite his hectic schedule then, I allowed Brendan to find some entertainments for his brain by taking some breaks to pursue his movie trailers, read on movie synopsis, draw on his board and any short activities which he enjoys. If background music helps in soothing their mind, let it play!

Remember that young mind is not a 16/7 study machine.


I came across this book on “Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul”. To me, I agree that “nourishing the stomach  - nourishes the soul”.

I also believe in the importance of “being present” as an important source of motivation for our boys.  After leaving my full-time job, I had the advantage of personally preparing food that Brendan loves, making everyday meal an enjoyment for him, something he could look forward to amidst the revision for preliminary, preparation for direct school admission exercise and then PSLE. He was racing against time then and I could not relieve the amount of knowledge he has to digest but I could ensure the healthier diet that he digests and provide spiritual support.

pic31Source: Inspiration from MOE Excel Fest 2012

For Brendan, he always looks forward to the new food that I learn to prepare and so I started to cook, bake and prepare desserts, yet not forgetting not to overload him with unhealthy food.

More fruits, vegetables, homemade yoghurt, green tea, honey, salmon and other healthy diet, with chicken essence as a booster.

I guess by rewarding his stomach in a delightful and healthy way, his mind was rewarded too. In a way, it was my method of showering him with unspoken encouragement.


Since P4, Brendan has been among the top 3 in class for academic performance.  I am thankful that he takes initiatives to put in constant effort to revise and achieve personal improvements without me having to nag at me in this aspect.  Understanding that he has weaknesses in certain subjects, I avoid stressing him with unreasonable expectations like achieving A* for all  subjects despite him coming from one of the top primary schools in Singapore. Seriously, when he shared with me that his teacher openly told him that he had to score A*s for certain subjects since he topped the class, I had to “undo this unnecessary pressure” on helped him set reasonable expectations instead.

I allowed him to understand his weaknesses in subjects and guide him in setting achievable targets for his different subjects since P4.
[Eg. if he used to achieve 70 over marks in his Higher Chinese, he would set next targets of improving himself to achieve 80 marks and put in additional efforts in comprehension if that was his weaknesses. He had high confidence for his Math, wanted a breakthrough and worked towards achieving A* for his Math, and we helped facilitate it.]

He was encouraged to voice out his priorities and decided to stop pursuing his music advancement for a year so that he could still find time to enjoy studies and play, without having to sit for more tests. By listening and cooperating with him, it helps.

Through discussion and understanding our children’s progress, we allow our children and ourselves to make reasonable expectations, review them and work towards continuous improvements. I know of parents who load their children with tuitions on weekends and after school with expectations of them to achieve 4 A*s in primary school and all band 1.

Personally, I feel this might not be useful and understanding our children’s learning aptitude and constraints might bring more benefits. So, as parents, we need to understand our own children and consider “are too many tuition sessions” really necessary for our children? In fact, it might end up adding additional stress.



pic21Source : Inspiration from MOE Excel Fest 2012

Learning should be an enjoyable journey. As a parent, I understand that it is unavoidable for parents to exert pressure on their children to perform well academically in a meritocratic education system.  Unconsciously, we might have instilled examination fear in our children through our constant emphasis for them to obtain excellent grades. In a way, we end up being discouraging and it might take away the joy of learning.

From my personal experience, our boys tend to fare better in subjects which they enjoy. The method of teaching and teachers play an important role in building the interests in the students too.

It is natural for our children to feel anxious for examination. Learn to listen and help them overcome.

Next time, instead of breathing down their necks, try doing some simple massages on their tired shoulders, shower some motivating words and encouraging smiles or hugs. It is more effective! Even if they return home and express low confidence for any paper that they have sat for, do not be quick to condemn or discourage. If they start comparing themselves with friends who perform better, help them build their self-esteem and give affirmations over their strengths.

I am not an education professional but my experience teaches me that individual child has his/her own learning style and ability. By understanding our child better and “not exerting unnecessary pressure on them just to blindly follow their peers” might create a better learning atmosphere for our children.


Before I end my post, here’s wishing students who are sitting for PSLE this year -  Good Luck and Stay Calm.



This is the year…..

We have finally reached the 6th year of the Primary School education when Brendan will be sitting for his Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE).  The word “PSLE“ has caused anxiety among many parents and sets high pressure on students and teachers.

I cannot imagine how it will be when it comes to GCE O levels and tertiary education. I don't recall myself so stressed up when I have to sit for the exams myself more than 2 decades ago.]


As a parent……Me? Of course, I am bitten by that anxiety bug already *frown*.  If your child is also going through the School Leaving Examinations soon or had already sat for the examinations, these questions might not sound unfamiliar to you :

Which secondary school should Brendan be enrolling?”   ”How do I manage coaching two children, now that Darren is in Primary 2?”

“What if Papa Ed has to go on that regular travel and I have to solve those most challenging Math and Science questions that can seriously GRILL my mind?” [I admit some questions are ten times tougher than my time.]

“With so much academic pressure likely to be coming from the school, how can I not add on to that pressure and still ensure that he is on track?”  “How do we keep his life balanced and healthy without any constraints especially with his music commitment, academic commitment and those many fun activities that he will miss?”

“It is often “difficult”to tutor our own kids. So are we going to get some external help?  After some deliberation, I guess we will continue to tutor because knowing myself, I  will not tolerate days of not knowing my son’s progress and development.”


Something is for sure. ……

I am not sending him to those “genius grooming classes” that promise straight “As”. His school tends to produce top PSLE achiever in Singapore and I believe the school has the potential to groom him if he could live up to the grilling *grin*.

I am not going to enforce a “all studies and no play” mandate for him *haha*

I am not quitting job as yet to spend 8 hours a day making sure that he studies. Perhaps, maybe, we will spend 4 nights of 2 hours each to coach him and also re-study my PSLE subjects again *haha*. I cannot imagine all our quality time together being buried in books *Oh! No!*. So, I guess we won’t go to this extreme AS YET *smile*.

I guess we can live with less fun and crazy times though.

[Surprsingly, I have people asking me whether I would "retire" and be at home coaching. Excuse me, I don't think I will use exactly the same word "retire" when I am now in my 30s. However, I might consider quitting job if the pressure at work and home intensifies but not cos' I am due for retirement *haha*.]


I recalled last year when Brendan’s teacher explained that they have to give lots of homework to the students in Primary 5 and hasten the speed of teaching. She also emphasized that there would be insufficient time when these students reach Primary 6.

So, the foundation to prepare the primary school students start in Primary 1. The preparation  intensifies in Primary 4 or 5. As in Primary 6, we are going through it now and needless to say, I can expect extreme pressure coming from the school.

Somehow, I agree with Brendan’s teacher that - time is short. This year’s PSLE written papers is expected to start a week earlier than 2010’s. The school’s preliminary examinations will be earlier too.  The tentative PSLE time schedule guide for 2011 is available now. For more information, please refer to SEAB website.

Oral Examinations : 18 - 19 August 2011

Listening Comprehension : 16 September 2011

Written Examinations : 29 September - 5 October 2011



So, preparation time is short…..

For Primary School leavers, besides having to absorb what are being taught this year, the students will have to revise those that have been taught in their earlier years of primary school education, complete school homeworks and ensure regular revisions.  For Brendan, he will have to take one additional subject of Higher Mother Tongue (which both he and I are weakest in *frown*.)

For last few years, we have experimented the following methods of learning for Brendan and it works! I am lucky that Brendan cooperates well too with our learning advices.

  • regular revision is important instead of rushing to understand/memorise a concept only before examinations.
  • studies should not be focused only on textbook knowledge but also in enabling the child to different understandings of a subject matter through internet search and attempting other revision papers and reading guide books.  
  • pic1


  • encourage learning through graphics and comics  or in interactive ways IF monotonous texts tend to bore the child.



  • parents spending time to monitor the child’s progress and determine a suitable learning technique for the child [I am glad that we have been coaching Brendan personally for the last few years because it makes me understand his learning abilities and knowledge block.]
  • allowing a child to understand the approach (eg Math and Science) through reading the model answers. It helps to also enable the child to understand the fundamental concepts instead of telling them to accept the answers as it is. In doing so, we have been carefully selecting guidebooks that prove to be so useful.



  • encouraging a child to attempt a different approach of problem solving (especially Math) could give them the flexibility of the mind to think and solve problems  one step at a time.


I am not a professionally trained teacher but I appreciate the importance of  encouraging a child to enjoy and understand what he is learning, to maintain an inquisitive and open mind, and to allow that little mind to also take a break. A child’s complete development is not the responsibility of the teachers in school but that of the parents,

If your child is sitting for School Leaving Examinations or had done so, please feel free to share your views/tips :)

Protected by Copyscape Online Plagiarism Test
Follow Us