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The Path to Success, Part 1 - Studying & Core Skills

In our last couple of posts about working together, we detailed how you could work alongside your child to improve their creative writing, comprehension and maths skills. While those posts were more specific in nature, this post is dedicated to giving you general information about prioritising the elements of study preparation:

Structuring preparation time:

If your child has been preparing at home for the GL exam for 6 months or more, then well done! However, we also realise that some students will be behind on their studies. Our main advice at ELC is that if you have 2 months or a month left, do not rush into timed exam practice. You may think tackling the issue head-on makes sense, but it will only stress your child out by pointing out to them where it is they struggle. It will be all they can think about, and may make them give up on studying because 'I'm rubbish at ___ and I am definitely going to fail, so what is the point?'.

The last thing we want is for kids to feel like they are being given an impossible task - so instead of worrying about exam practice, focus on the core knowledge. This way kids can boost their knowledge in areas they are weaker in without feeling inadequate, as well as receiving an ego boost when scoring well in their stronger subjects.

Besides, children respond better to short-term goals. If you focus too much on exams, which may be a year, two years in the future (something that to a 9 or 10-year-old feels a million years away), children are much less motivated to try and focus. In this case, focusing on core skills and treating mock exams like goals themselves, makes for a more tangible experience. Depending on the time available to you, these four structural elements are ranked in order of chronological importance:

  1. Securing the Basics

  2. Developing your child's specific skills

  3. Introducing past papers

  4. Timed practice

If you have 6 months to a year, you should be able to fit in all four elements nicely. However, say if you have 2 months, focusing on 1 and 2 is much more important (and ignoring 4 altogether may be required).

The Core Skills:

Above all, concepts reign supreme - there is a reason why we call them 'the fundamentals'! But what are they? There is some subjectivity to the matter, but here is a guideline:


  1. Times tables for instant recall (up to 12 x 12)

  2. Basic number skills (digits and words)

  3. On paper calculation methods (division, multiplication, addition and subtraction)

  4. Converting (fractions, decimals and percentages)

  5. Basic Ratios

  6. Finding simple percentages


  1. Reading (as much as possible, but make sure it is fun!)

  2. Writing and Creative Writing (creating and discussing short stories is more effective than longer ones)

  3. Vocabulary (eg. have a word of the day, or words your child finds interesting.)

  4. Spelling (target commonly used words in their textbooks.)

  5. Comprehension skills (practicing P.E.E is important in this case.)

In part 2, we will discuss how to help your child tackle advanced skills once they have the fundamentals down, especially skills they struggle with.

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