How to Prepare Your Child for an Upcoming Test


New year, new school, new opportunities for growth! Read our article as we share some tried and true tips for parents and children in the lead up to the first day of primary school.

A Whole New World Awaits

New classmates, new teachers, new school environment — your child’s tiny world is about to get a lot bigger. With these changes come opportunities for personal, social and cognitive growth.

The Countdown And Preparation Begins

In these weeks as you count down to your child’s first day of school, you may be wondering, “What will school be like for my child? Will my child be able to cope in the new environment?”

Parents can help by being proactive — research from professionals at Duke University suggests that establishing a strong communication channel with your child’s teachers helps and so does monitoring changes in your child's behaviour or mood when he or she first starts school.

Whether at home or in school, we’ve got some great tips for every stage of preparation that will help you (and your child) pave a smooth journey towards the new school term in January.

1. Create A Routine That Works

Studies have shown that routines help children feel safe and secure. Set up a routine that works for your child — whether it’s a shower before dinner or an afternoon snack before naptime, it’s important that your child gets into a routine that he or she is comfortable with. 

2. Identify Friendly Figures In School

Helping your child identify teachers or staff he or she can go to for assistance is important. When your child recognises trustworthy figures of authority, he or she will feel more secure in the new environment.

Related Article: Gear Up For Primary 1

3. Prepare An 'Emergency' Fund

You may want to consider setting aside an “emergency fund” for your child. Placing extra money in a separate wallet or purse to be kept in his or her school bag means that your child will still have access to money if he or she misplaces pocket money. However, you should set some strict rules about when this money can be used.

4. Test Out That Transport Route

It may be a good idea to have a few dry runs of your child’s journey to and from school to help your child familiarise himself or herself with the route. Help your child identify key landmarks and remember the specific place where he or she will be dropped off or picked up from everyday.

Related Article: Raising A Responsible Child

5. Set Mini Goals To Achieve Together

Help to make the experience seem less daunting by setting mini goals for the first day of school. Start with small tasks like “Leave the house on time” or “Remember to bring my water bottle home” or “Meet one new friend in class today”. These mini goals give your child something to look forward to on his or her first day of school!

Download Our Special Guide To Surviving And Thriving In Primary 1

The Learning Lab would like to extend our help as you and your child are preparing for Primary 1 and the new adventures that lie ahead. Download our fun and informative guide filled with 25 great tips to help your child survive and thrive in Primary 1!


How much your child has learned during the semester will be put to the test (literally), if he or she isn’t already sitting for end-of-term exams. This is a period of high pressure for students as they are encouraged to do extra revisions and process more information than usual. 

The added stress of being expected to achieve stellar results is also counterproductive to their learning process.

A commentary by Channel News Asia (CNA) asserts that the hyper-competitive academic culture in Singapore is “breeding severe test anxiety among many students” and the ripple effects must not be taken lightly.

CNA adds that some students “suffer intense emotional symptoms like fear, anger, depression or helplessness, while others exhibit behavioural symptoms like avoidance or irritability or cognitive impairment that include racing thoughts, minds going blank, difficulty concentrating and negative thinking”.

Your child needs guidance, support and kindness from adults both at home and at school at this crucial period.

Help your child do well by taking some of the pressure off while he or she prepares for any upcoming tests.


1. Use Colours and Creativity During Revision

Colourful shapes, tables, charts, mind maps and flashcards can help with your child’s attention and memory.

A study published by the Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences suggests that “colour can be very effective in learning and educational setting, marketing, communication, or even sport”.  

This is because colours attract attention and “the more attention focused on certain stimuli, the more chances of the stimuli to be transferred to a more permanent memory storage”.

Encourage your child to use coloured pens, bright highlighters and colourful sticky notes when revising. The process of writing stuff down in different coloured pens as a revision technique can stimulate the memory through visual association.

Using playful drawings and diagrams to express what he or she has learned can also help retain useful information and make revision fun. For example, if your child is taking down notes about photosynthesis, he or she can make his notes more aesthetically pleasing and easily comprehensible by drawing out his or her favourite plant and labelling the process.


2. Study in Short Bursts with Frequent Breaks

A research involving 600 students by the University of Surrey in England reveals that students who took regular breaks from studying had higher information retention — up to 20 per cent more — than students who sat through their study time longer with lesser breaks. 

Spaced out learning apparently allows the brain to absorb and retain information at the speed at which neurons naturally process input. 

In the words of education journalist Nick Morrison: “If the neurons are distracted while they are making the changes that are involved in creating memories, then the creation of memories will be impaired.”

Get your child to set study times of up to 45 minutes then go for long breaks before picking up study time again. Allow him or her to completely disconnect from the studies during breaks so as not to feel subliminal pressure, which can be counterproductive to his or her memory.


3. Don’t Study Too Late into the Night

Students have the tendency of burning the midnight oil when it comes to revision. However, intensive late night study sessions can harm the brain more than boost memory. It causes poor focus and shorter attention spans as the brain craves rest and recovery from the inputs gathered throughout the day.

Restricting the healing process of sleep causes foggy concentration, fatigue, irritability, high-blood pressure, and more serious medical conditions, according to the National Health Service in the UK.

Advise your child to study early and finish early in the evening before his or her important test. You can also sit with your child in the morning to refresh his or her memory and go through new information.


4. Set a Positive Mood by Playing Mellow but Uplifting Wake-Up Music

If your child has been rigorously studying the night before, he or she is likely feeling nervous and tense in anticipation of the exams for the next day.

According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University, our mood in the morning pretty much sets the tone for our mood and productivity for the rest of the day.

Give your child a calm and uplifting start to the day by putting on some mellow and happy music. Music's potential as a therapeutic tool is proven not just to improve moods but also assist with learning outcomes. 

An article titled “Music and the Brain: The Fascinating Ways That Music Affects Your Mood and Mind”, mentions that “music affects the brain and mood by engaging emotion, memory, learning and neuroplasticity, and attention”. 


5. Eat Well to Support Mental Performance

The effect of nutrition on the brain should never be underestimated. What your child eats will affect his or her moods and motivations when studying, as well as his or her capacity to retain helpful information.

Reach Out, an online resource for mental health in Australia, shares that the brain requires proper nourishment for it to function better and that the effects of an unhealthy diet causes trouble sleeping, poor memory and difficulty in problem-solving.

Try feeding your child brain foods to help fuel his or her concentration. Also have a look at healthier dietary substitutes. For instance...

Instead of:

Processed cereal

Biscuits or a muffin

Frozen pizza

Burger and fries

Chocolate or lollies


Potato chips

Energy drink or soft drink



Oats mixed with milk and topped with fruit and walnuts

Wholegrain crackers with cheese and tomato

Homemade wholewheat pizza

Steak and salad

Fresh or dried fruit

Yoghurt and berries

Handful of nuts

Fruit smoothie

Green or herbal tea


A Methodical Approach to End-of-Term Tests

By helping your child beat exam stress, you are setting him or her up for better test results and a more joyful experience during an academically demanding period.

We understand that you and your child may be feeling overwhelmed and may not know where to start from. That is why we have put together an informative checklist that can better help you plan for your child's upcoming tests.

Our Preparing for the End-of-Term Assessment checklist is just a click away. Download this methodical guide by clicking here or the image below.

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