Time Management Tips for Students (What to do if fail JC Test / Promo Exam?)

Do you wish there is a method to improve your grades? How do you improve your grades after failing a Common Test for Secondary School or JC?

The Four Quadrant Method is an ideal method for students (especially higher level students like O Level or A Level students) to plan their study schedule and revision time table.

Many students do ok in primary school, but start to falter and fail in secondary school or JC. This may be due to many factors, some of which can be remedied using effective time management.

According to this model, which comes from the book First Things First by Stephen Covey (Highly recommended to read), there are four types of activities:

Quadrant 1) Important and Urgent (crises, deadline-driven projects)
Quadrant 2) Important, Not Urgent (preparation, prevention, planning, relationships)
Quadrant 3) Urgent, Not Important (interruptions, many pressing matters)
Quadrant 4) Not Urgent, Not Important (trivia, time wasters)

The key to doing well in school and exams is actually Quadrant 2! It is highly related to human psychology. Most people would think Quadrant 1 is more important, but actually Quadrant 2 is the most important type of activity for students.

Quadrant 1 activities (in the Singapore context) are activities like assignment due next day, test next day, exam the next day, and so on. They are important and also urgent. The thing is, these things are usually done by most people since there is a time pressure factor to it. Most students will actually do and complete Quadrant 1 activities. However, as you would know by now, just doing the homework the teacher assigns is not enough to do well for the test / exam under the Singapore syllabus. Firstly, the work that the teacher assigns may be basic material, while in Singapore, the school tests and exams all contain advanced and challenging material.

Quadrant 2 activities are long-ranged planning and strategies, like preparing for a test that is 3 months later, preparing for the Promo Exam that is half a year later. Since these activities are not urgent, most people skip them altogether. However, it is highly important to do Quadrant 2 activities everyday. Stephen R. Covey is a genius for discovering that Quadrant 2 is the secret to time management. Students should set aside some time everyday to do long-ranged preparation, e.g. preparing for a test that is a few months into the future.

Quadrant 3 activities are things that are urgent but not important. Examples are checking Email, checking Whatsapp for class group notifications. Yes, checking email and Whatsapp is compulsory nowadays, but it is not considered an important activity in the grand scheme of things. One should set a minimum amount of them for these activities. CCA may also be classified under this category. This Quadrant is highly deceptive, and a huge time sink, but in the end the activities in Quadrant 3 rank very low in importance.

Quadrant 4 activities are things that are not urgent and not important. Examples are checking Facebook, playing computer games, and so on. These activities should be kept to a bare minimum, and only during scheduled breaks for destressing.

The Four Quadrant technique can be coupled with the Pomodoro Technique which is another good technique for time management.

Hope it helps! This method is for parents to teach their child about Time Management, provided their child is motivated and wishes to improve. For children that are not motivated to study / not interested in learning, parents should check out these Motivational books to motivate students instead.


Try out this simple and effective time management and study strategy, named the Pomodoro Technique.

It helps to break up big tasks into smaller tasks, so that we don’t feel so overwhelmed by the task. Sometimes, students feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of material to study, so they don’t feel like starting. Using this method may be effective for beating procrastination and increasing efficiency.



Student Advice: Comments on Perseverance

Source: http://www.math.union.edu/~dpvc/courses/advice/perseverance.html

Comments on Perseverance:

One source of confusion for students when they reach college and begin to  do college-level mathematics is this:  in high school, it is usually pretty  apparent what formula or technique needs to be applied, as much of the  material in high school is computational or procedural.  In college,  however, mathematics becomes more conceptual, and it is much harder to  know what to do when you first start a problem.  As a consequence of this,  many students give up on a problem too early.

If you don’t immediately know how to attack a problem, this doesn’t mean you  are stupid,

If you already know how to do it, it’s not  really a problem.

or that you don’t understand what’s going on; that’s just how  real problems work.  After all, if you already know how to do it, it’s not  really a problem, is it?  You should expect to be confused at first.   There’s no way you can know ahead of time how to solve every problem that  you will face in life.  You’re only hope, and therefore your goal as a  student, is to get experience with working through hard problems on your  own.  That way, you will continue to be able to do so once you leave  college.

One of the first steps in this is to realize that not knowing how, and the  frustration that accompanies that, is part of the process.  Then you have  to start to figure out the questions that you can ask to help you to break  down the problem, so that you can figure out how it really works.  What’s  really important in it?  What is the central concept?  What roles do the  definitions play?  How is this related to other things I know?

Continue reading at http://www.math.union.edu/~dpvc/courses/advice/perseverance.html

Exam Time Management and Speed in Maths (Primary, O Level, A Level)

Time management is a common problem for Maths, along with careless mistakes.

For Exam Time management, here are some useful tips:
1) If stuck at a question for some time, it is better to skip it and go back to it later, rather than spend too much time on it. I recall for PSLE one year, there was a question about adding 1+2+…+100 early in the paper, and some children unfortunately spent a lot of time adding it manually.
2) Use a exam half-time strategy. At the half-time mark of the exam, one should finish at least half of the paper. If no, then need to speed up and skip hard questions if necessary.

To improve speed:
1) Practice. It is really important to practice as practice increases speed and accuracy.
2) Learn the faster methods for each type of question. For example, guess and check is considered a slower method, as most questions are designed to make guess and check difficult.

Sincerely hope it helps.
For dealing with careless mistakes (more for O and A levels), you may read my post on How to avoid Careless Mistakes for O-Level / A-Level Maths?

English: an animated clock
English: an animated clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)