EducationPrimary SchoolWhy Smaller Tests & Assessments Work Better Than Primary School Exams?

August 2, 2022

By 2023, all primary and secondary school students in Singapore will no longer have to sit for mid-year examinations. This news reported in March 2022 follows similar changes introduced to Primary 3 and 5 as well as Secondary 1 and 3 cohorts back in 2020.

The positive impact that such a move created is telling. According to Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing, teachers were able to optimise student’s time in school, assessing their difficulty levels with smaller tests and assessments, and, therefore, driving more focused learning. This helped to deepen their understanding in subjects, allowing for better recall and application.

In more specific detail, we discuss below how the revamp pedagogy in our mainstream schools can do wonders for your child.

1. Commit Information To Long-Term Memory

One important reason why teachers leverage smaller tests and assessments as active learning strategies before the main examinations is because they strengthen long-term memory. But how?

Since these tests are organised on a topical basis, students need not study a whole unit of material, but rather smaller segments of information. This way, they do not have to process too much information at a time, which thus enables them to digest and understand better. When the final-year examinations arrive, they won’t need to spend too much  time studying these concepts either – a quick refresher on the concepts is sufficient. They can then practise application questions to prepare themselves for the exams.


2. Motivated To Learn & Achieve Mastery

Apart from long-term recall, frequent tests and assessments serve as a diagnostic tool for teachers to assess the students’ level of understanding. By identifying areas in which students still struggle, teachers can direct more energy towards these and ensure students can master those concepts over time.

The fact that these tests are topical and classroom-based, students can shake off the mentality of competing for higher scores, which often come at the expense of meaningful comprehension. The anxiety that bigger exams can cause will no longer hinder students’ ability to think with greater clarity.

Aptly described by former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, this gives way “to a new movement to take a balanced approach in teaching and assessments, and bring about greater joy of learning”.

With joy comes motivation, and therefore, a more efficient route towards mastery.

With that, you won’t have to spend too much time encouraging your child to do their homework, since take-home assessments or assignments will be more focused and enriching.


3. Deeper Comprehension & Active Recall

The eventual outcome of this move aligns with what we achieve through the Art of Learning. By facilitating meaningful analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application of concepts, we help students develop a strong foundation in a subject.

Their ability to actively recall and establish connections with new concepts more effectively with The Optimal Flow Method™ makes learning more empowering at every educational level. When they are better able to grasp what is taught in school, they emerge more confident and interested in learning as a whole.

Targeted tests and purposeful assessments help children achieve this. Both primary school students can do away with rote memorisation; instead, they can adopt a topical approach towards learning that enables them to digest information more impactfully. Study methods will no longer entail memory work based on countless cards and notes, but rather active learning strategies that prioritise application over theory. All in all, this strengthens their ability to recall and therefore answer questions in their test papers more confidently than before.

It is understandable that the transition from the traditional pedagogy to the new one can create anxiety among parents, but rest assured that our mainstream schools are moving in the right direction. If you want to prepare your child for the change or wish to see the impact such an approach can have, why not register them in one of our MindChamps Enrichment programmes in Singapore today?

You may also book a visit to any of our centres to learn more.