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Developing effective time management skills during exams

Developing effective time management skills during exams

Tests and exams are a crucial part of every student's academic journey, testing not just their knowledge, but also their ability to manage time effectively under pressure. For all primary and secondary school students entering their year-end exam phase, developing strong time management skills can make a significant difference in achieving better grades. Join us as we explore techniques and advice that will empower your child to navigate their PSLE and O-Level papers with confidence!

1. Prioritise wisely

One of the first and most important steps in effective time management during exams is to prioritise questions wisely. As your child scans through their paper, they should identify the questions they feel most confident about and start with those. This will help them gain momentum and build their confidence early on. As they move through the paper, allocate time to each question based on its complexity and the marks it carries. Remember, not all questions are created equal – some may require more time than others, so they should allocate the needed time accordingly.

2. Read the instructions carefully

Before diving into the questions, encourage your child to take a moment to read the instructions thoroughly. Underline any keywords that will help them understand what answers the questions are seeking for. Understanding the format of the exam and any specific guidelines provided by the teacher is crucial. This will help avoid unnecessary mistakes due to misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the instructions.

3. Stay calm and focused

During exams, it's natural to feel jittery and anxious. However, maintaining a calm and focused mindset is essential for effective time management. Remind your child to take a few deep breaths before they start on their paper, and remind themselves that they are prepared for this moment. If they come across a challenging question, don't panic! Move on to the next one and come back to it later when they’re done with the rest.

4. Time allocation strategy

One effective time allocation strategy is the 2-10-30 rule. For instance, if you have a two-hour exam, spend the first 10 minutes quickly skimming through the entire paper. Then, allocate around 30% of your time to the questions you find relatively easier. This leaves you with enough time to tackle the more demanding questions and review your answers at the end.

5. Answering order matters

Choosing the order in which you answer questions can also impact your time management. Some students prefer to start with the easiest questions to build confidence, while others prefer to tackle the tougher ones first when their minds are freshest. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so they should choose the order that suits them best. However, keep in mind that leaving the most challenging questions for last might eat up more time than anticipated, so they should exercise their judgement wisely.

6. Review and revise

Once they have answered all the questions, remind them to resist the urge to hand in their paper immediately, even if it means they can leave the exam hall early! They should use the remaining time to review their answers. This is a crucial step as it allows your child to correct any mistakes, add missing information, and ensure their answers are clear and coherent.

7. Practice makes perfect

Effective time management skills are honed through consistent practice. During your child’s study sessions, simulate exam conditions as closely as possible. Set a timer, gather their materials, and practise answering questions under timed conditions. This not only helps your child get accustomed to the pressure of an exam but also allows them to refine their time allocation strategies.


Remember, every exam is an opportunity for your child to showcase their knowledge and the hard work they’ve put in to get there. Stay calm, stay focused, and trust in their abilities – know that success is within reach! As parents, supporting your child's journey to effective time management can make a significant impact on their academic growth and overall well-being. Good luck with their upcoming papers!

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Suitable for primary & secondary