i‑Learner Education Centre

Steps to Success » Exam Preparation

How to Shine in Exams

It can be very frustrating to see your child do exercises perfectly at home but get bad grades in their exams. Parents often ask me what the problem is, and there are a few causes. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to these, which I use regularly to help students reach their potential. Try the tips below to find the ones that help your child shine:


Problem 1: They don’t really understand the concept.

Students with this problem can follow examples well and succeed at drilling exercises. However, when they do integrated exercises, which combine a few different skills, they get very stuck.

Solution 1: Make sure they understand concepts instead of imitating answers.

Ask your child to make their own sentences to show that they really understand a grammar topic. Or let them work independently on mixed-topic exercises to see which ones they’re struggling with.


Problem 2: We’re giving them too much help.

When starting a child on an exercise, it’s common to explain the topic and perhaps even do a few questions together. When the child can work with us and then independently, we get the impression that they understand. But often they’re just closely copying our model.

Solution 2: See how much a child can do without explanation or examples.

This doesn’t mean you need to walk away and ignore them. Instead, observe how they work and what they struggle with. This provides great feedback for when you give assistance later, and it also encourages your child to be an independent learner and to work under exam conditions.


Problem 3: Low reading comprehension pulls down other grades.

If students can’t read well, they can’t understand the questions well enough to showcase their other skills. They can perform well if they’ve met the questions in their textbooks or exercise books, but not if the passages are new and the question types are different from those they’re used to. Even students with strong grammar, for example, can get very low grades if they don’t know what the questions are asking.

Solution 3: Read, read, read.

The solution to this is really reading, even this means starting with very simple materials. It’s best to start as soon as possible as this problem only gets worse as it continues. Strong reading skills boost all other grades, so they’re well worth the time investment to build!


Students perform consistently and meet their potential if they can develop the habit of reading and are nurtured to be independent learners.