In this competitive age, parents often focus on the percentage their child scores in his final exams. They worry about his test scores and send him for tuition, hoping that it'll improve his exam performance and result in good grades.
Exam is a stressful time for children and the expectation of always getting good marks adds to the stress. However, getting a perfect score is not always possible. Even toppers have their share of days when they underperform or don't score well in tests.
But, the good news is that there are ways that you can help your child improve her grades by working out a few things at home. From encouraging her and building her confidence, to making her practise tests and do select activities, you can help your child fare well in academics.
How to get better exam results
Here are top 10 ways you can help your child perform better in exams:
Encourage studying every day: Leaving exam preparation till the very last moment is probably the worst thing children can do. Ensure that your child devotes a few hours to his studies every day, apart from his daily homework. He should use this time to go over whatever he had studied in class that day.
Adopt a positive attitude: It's crucial that you have a positive outlook towards your child's academic progress and have faith in his efforts. Saying things like, "You are lazy," or "You will not get anywhere in life with these marks," will not help him or you in any way. It will only demotivate him and lead him to believe that he is not capable of performing well in his exams. Teach him that while exams are an important way to measure progress, they are not the end of the world.
Teach organisation skills: An organised study space, homework done in advance, assignments done on time and class notes kept in an ordered manner, all help in saving time for crucial things like learning, memorising and revising. A chaotic room takes away the focus from studying and hampers the learning process.
Emphasise on taking notes: While studying, teach your child to take notes. Writing down what he reads, helps in memorising the text. It also helps him understand concepts better.
Set up practice tests: 'Practice makes perfect' and no proverb is truer than this when it comes to studying and preparing for exams. Ask your child to solve mock papers and look up previous years' question papers to familiarise herself with the various kinds of questions and the format of the question paper. Ask her to finish the tests within a certain time frame. This will help her understand which problems take time to solve and which ones she can attempt easily.
Expose to memory-building activities: From making flash cards, to creating word pictures and visualising, involve your child in activities that help increase memory power. Some children like listening to music while studying as it helps them recall better. So, let him decide what works for him and you can help him with it.
Stress on revision: It can't be said enough. Revision is the key to preparing for any exam, whether it's a class test, a competitive exam or the board exams. Make sure your child revises each subject before appearing for the exam and gives more time to topics that she usually struggles with.
Focus on breaks: In a study titled, 'Brief and rare mental "breaks" keep you focused', by Lleras A and Ariga A, published by the University of Illinois in 2011, the researchers found that the participants who were allowed to take breaks performed better in the task given, compared to those who weren't given a break. A break refreshes the mind and allows your child to look at a problem from a fresh perspective. Whether he likes to go for a walk or just listen to some music to unwind, encourage him to take short breaks so he does not develop mental fatigue.
Help develop visualisation: Visualisation of the given text is one of the best ways to understand a concept and remember it. In fact, some experts recommend that closing of the eyes while visualising something, helps the person remember better. In a study, 'Eye closure helps memory by reducing cognitive load and enhancing visualisation', by Vredeveldt A, Hitch GJ, Baddeley AD, published in 2011, the researchers found the participant's 'recall to be significantly better when distraction was minimal, providing evidence that eye closure reduces cognitive load'.
Recommend summarising: Ask your child to summarise whenever she comes across a new concept or a theory. When she summarises what she reads, it'll help her grasp the concepts better. This will help her remember by understanding and not memorising by rote.
It's important for you to remember that parental support is not only about encouraging your child to do better but also letting him make mistakes. Do not be critical about one bad performance. Try to find out the reasons and help him find a solution to the problem. A child could under perform for various reasons and not all of them need to be academic. Remember the goal is for your child to succeed in life and not just exams.
Dr. Singhal is a clinical psychologist with a doctorate degree from NIMHANS (Bangalore) and holds a post-doctorate in parenting from the University of Queensland (Australia). She is Head of the Content Solutions Zone at ParentCircle.
About the author:
Written by Leena Ghosh on 11 August 2018; updated on 12 February 2020
The author is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.