For high school students who have just completed a round of exams, the experience may already be revealing areas needing attention. Where does your child feel less than confident? What learning have they yet to consolidate post-exam, be it in Maths, English or another subject area… to be ready for the next round of exams?
Clients come to us for a variety of needs, but there are two broad types of goals they want help with.
The first is performance goals: ‘Help me pass this exam’, ‘Help me ace this test’, ‘Help me increase my chances of a scholarship to my preferred school’.
To reach performance goals, the student may need a handful of intensive sessions close to exam time, but those who do well are likely to also have been working towards the second type of goal, the learning development goal: ‘I want to get better at writing essays’, ‘I need to understand algebra’, ‘I’ve missed some concepts about fractions’, ‘I need to improve my research and critical thinking skills’.
Students who have been steadily working towards learning goals are not only likely to do better on a test where a question may be worded differently to ‘trick’ the student (testing deep-level, cross-contextual understanding); they are also much more likely to retain the learning after the exam.
While exams are a weighty slice of the assessment pie, high school students are also required to do well across a variety of assessment pieces, such as shorter assignments, quizzes, presentations and regular in-class performance. So there is much more to improving subject averages than cramming for an exam.
In Mark Richard’s 2020 article in The Educator* about why private tuition is on the rise, he points out that one of the biggest benefits of private tuition is that learning efficiency is maximised due to the learning being completely tailored to the individual student. “Whereas in school a student may be at a disadvantage, if, for example, they work at a different pace to the rest of the class, or need to focus more attention on a specific aspect of the course, private tuition largely negates these problems.”
The proof is in the numbers: according to Mohan Dhall, CEO of the Australian Tutoring Association, about one-quarter of Australian families use academic support such as tutoring services (May 2019).**
Many of our students cover a range of concepts and skills with their tutor/s who are responding to their students’ particular needs, in order to do better across wide-ranging performance expectations.
Along with developing a variety of classroom skills and content knowledge, exam performance skills – a particular subset of skills – improve with familiarity and practice. Tuition can include regular assessment pieces, feedback and specific instruction on exam techniques to improve confidence and ability on the day of the big test.
Areas where students typically struggle in exams, particularly under pressure, include a strong starting off strategy, efficient use of time, writing long-form answers that best demonstrate their knowledge and ability, breaking down reading texts, solving problems put in a new way, and choosing best answers in multiple-choice.
A strong personal learning plan includes individualised teaching and a combination of short-term and long-term strategies to maximise both learning and performance.