Prelim Exams

It is time for preliminary exams, and my eldest daughter recently attended a preparation talk at her exam center.

They discussed all the rules and requirements for sitting for her preliminary exams, otherwise known as “Prelims” or “Mock Exams”. Her final exams in November will be conducted in the exact manner and in the same venue as these prelims. Apart from these exams counting towards her year marks, they form an important part of her final exam’s preparation.

For the first time in our homeschool journey, we are in a highly regulated system and must follow every rule and requirement.

This is quite a contrast to most of our homeschooling approach.

Our homeschooling is sometimes very flexible, gentle, accommodating, that these external exams can be very stressful.

At the moment, my daughter is most concerned about TIME.

Will she have enough time to complete all her questions?

During the last few months I have stressed this a lot.

I have shown her how to first calculate her time into minutes and divide the mark allocation into the time to estimate her marks per minute.

Say for example she has a 2-hour paper which is worth 100 marks ~

  1. Multiply the hours by 60 to calculate the minutes: 2 X 60 = 120 minutes
  2. Divide these minutes by the total marks: 120/ 100 = 1.2 marks per minute
  3. Now, she must look through the exam paper and calculate more-or-less 1 minute for each mark. She must look at each section and calculate how long she may work on those questions. For example, if her first section is worth 25 marks, she has 25 minutes for those questions. The extra minutes are absorbed into reading the questions, making choices or selections or paging through any addendum.

These are specific exam skills she needs right now. It is good to practice these calculations at home with past exam papers.

Having used this calculation method, we can already tell that she will not have enough time to complete her CAT (Computer Applied Technologies) Practical exam this coming Wednesday.  She has 3 hours for 200 marks!  This means there is less than 1 minute per mark, and she will need to read the question, find the data files, open them, find the relevant information, complete the question, then save the work … impossible.  We have therefore decided that if she doesn’t know where or what to do on any aspect of the questions, to simply move on.

In our computer studies this year, we have slogged through all the examples, all the questions, tried this way and that until we figure it out.  This all takes time. In this exam, there is no time for this process.  Either do it and move on or leave it and move on.

Tough stuff!

Emotionally this is not easy.  Her first exam … and she will not be able to complete all the questions.  Oh, well …

In the end, I believe that these exams are NOT about all my child may have learnt. They are a life skill = learn how to complete the exams in the prescribed format.

Once again I am deeply grateful for the wonderful early years of a gentle, rich and delightful Charlotte Mason inspired approach.

So please, dear moms with young children, enjoy a simple, relaxed homeschooling journey.  Put away the whip.  Don’t fret and stress through your child’s schedules. Take your time.  Enjoy your child and their unique learning styles.  Focus on these delicious years of freedom.

May I wish all the 2013 matriculants the very best for these exams.


4 thoughts on “Prelim Exams

  1. Pingback: Prepare for High School exams | Practical Pages

  2. Pingback: Do it! | Practical Pages

  3. I wish her all the best in testing. It’s my least favorite part of the schooling process. It seems that no matter how much I remember I have a hard time showing it in a test. And time management, it’s like a cloud that I try to tame from time to time, but then it gets away from me again and I go through the day getting done what needs to get done and making time to admire the beauty in the moment. *smile* Thanks for sharing how you calculate out each moment to help with time management in testing. *smile* Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!


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