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Examination Time-Use Guidelines for Learners with SEN

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Many of our learners with SEN lack planning skills. The inability to plan the use of time during examinations is common and persistent among our learners. This has resulted in parents and educators lamenting that these learners could have done much better if only they knew how to plan.  However, for learners who lack planning skills, work on these skills must start from external to internal. That is, educators and parents must take the first step in implementing a plan for the learner as opposed to simply telling the learner “you need to learn to plan your time”. Below are some guidelines and some specific examples for you to start teaching learners about examination time-use. Use these to guide you in helping your learner plan their time for their papers.

  1. Help the learner to be aware of the length of the paper in terms of sections, questions and duration of the paper.
  2. Help the learner to plan time-use for examinations using the examples below as a reference
  3. Practice full paper for each subject with the learner at least thrice before the actual examination
  4. Work out the recommended time for each section or adopt the examples below if relevant
  5. Record actual time needed and then adjust the recommended time to suit each learner’s needs
  6. Teach learners how to use extra time granted to them as part of access arrangements. If you are unsure of the extra time given, please check with the relevant school authority. Generally, extra time of 25% of the whole paper duration is provided. i.e. 15 mins extra for a one-hour paper.
  7. Through error analysis and together with the learner, agree on the top three most common errors/ most “waste-marks” errors and focus on these three errors during the checking process. It helps to be very specific about the errors and we should avoid using generic terms like “grammatical errors” or “careless mistakes” because that can include too many kinds of mistakes. Instead, be specific about which grammatical error you are referring to e.g subject-verb agreement/ irregular verbs. Always remember, if you want the learner to spot everything, they spot nothing.
  8. Some learners might have difficulties staying on task even during examinations. For these learners, it also helps to associate task progress with a concrete image. E.g. For P4 math Booklet A below, the student can keep track of his progress by drawing one part of any figure with 4 parts. At the end of the paper, he/she would have a completed square. For a paper with 6 sections, the learner can keep track of his progress by drawing one part of any figure with six parts e.g. a stick man. At the end of the paper, he/she would have a completed stick man. Some learners find it especially beneficial when task completion is made more concrete this way

 

How to Plan Your Time for Examinations: Some Examples

Primary 4 Math Booklet A

20 questions, 1 hr 45 mins

Questions Recommended Time Actual Time taken Visual Way to Track Task Progress
First 5 questions 25 mins  

 

Next 5 questions 25 mins  

 

Next 5 questions 25 mins  

 

Last 5 questions 25 mins
Check that you have shaded OAS correctly 5 mins
Total time 1 hr 45 mins
Use the extra time to check for the top 3 errors

  • Transposition errors i.e. switching digits/ error of data entry
  • Calculation errors i.e. working errors
  • Missing units
10 mins

10 mins

05 mins

_____________

25 mins

 

Primary 4 Math Booklet B

2 sections, 1 hr 45 mins

Sections Recommended Time Actual Time Taken Visual Way to Track Task Progress
B (20 questions) 45 mins/ 10 mins for every 5 questions Same as above example

 

C (5 questions) 1 hour
Total time 1 hr 45 mins
Use the extra time to check for the top 3 errors:

  • Uncompleted pages
  • Calculation errors i.e. Working errors
  • Missing units
10 mins

15 mins

05 mins

_____________

25 mins

 

Primary 4 English Paper 2

3 sections, 1 hr 15 mins

Sections             Recommended Time Actual Time Taken Visual Way to Track Task Progress
A and B (6 sub-sections) 10 mins + 20 mins
C (2 comprehension passages) 45 mins
Total time 1 hr 15 mins
Use extra time (exam accommodation) to check for the top 3 errors:

  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Homophones I vs eye, sea vs see, there vs their
  • Punctuation (be specific: commas after transition words e.g. Finally,)
05 mins

05 mins

05 mins

___________

15 mins

 

Written by June Siew, Head of DAS Academy