I believe many of you reading this have been candidates at one point in life.
You certainly know what it feels when days start to matter more than usual.
The third term is usually characterised by a certain degree of fear as all students wait for the ‘moment of truth.’
During my schools in Uganda, we would write the remaining days in the extreme top corner of the blackboard and adjustments to the tally would be made daily as we moved towards Zero days to exams.
I believe this practice is still common these days. But more importantly, teachers and students tend to underestimate the impact of this artificial tension caused by constant reminders of how ‘little’ the time for preparation one is left with.
This tension results in uncalled for errors and excessive fear among the students. Constant reminders of how they have no more time can only be compared to the ever-present travel advisories issued to American travellers heading to terrorism prone states.
Candidates do not need warnings or threats but assistance and attention.
A teacher will be of more help to his/her students if he listens to their concerns and does his best to demystify the fear associated with final exams.
It is disadvantageous for a student to approach final exams with a high fear factor ingrained in his psyche. Granted, the exams are vital because they largely determine one’s future, but this does not mean that it is a death penalty.
This being the last term for candidates to prove their worth, teachers should help them to prepare well for the final national examinations.
How can this be done? In the first place, a teacher needs to interact with the finalists much more so as to gauge their attitudes towards these exams.
Chat with them and listen to what they have to say as well as the hidden messages.
Are they scared of the exams? Have some of them lost hope of passing the exams?
Are they revising some subjects and neglecting others? Are there some who think that they will just cheat their way to success?
After you have made your observations, it is time to devise remedies.
Students who seem to have lowered their aspirations concerning the exams need to be reminded of the vitality of these exams.
Many will be scared of the exams and so they need encouragement and reassurance that things will be fine as long as they take time to prepare for the exams.
This should not be done to the point of complacency. Students especially the brighter ones sometimes become over confident and complacent and end up making silly mistakes in the exams.
Therefore much as desperation is discouraged, so should complacency.
It is important as well to try and assess the academic level of the candidates. Have they covered everything in the syllabi? If not, is the time enough for them to do so? What about comprehension? Are there some topics that students claim not to have understood well? If so, means should be devised to see to it that time is made for these topics to be readdressed to a point of adequate clarity.
Teachers are not geniuses so in case a teacher is not so familiar with a given topic then asking another who is familiar with it can be a great idea.
Extra periods can be used to try and cover all the topics before the time of the exams. However, teachers need to avoid over exhausting the students.
Teaching them all the time does not mean they will pass. They are human and so they need time to rest as well. You may also consider giving them preferential access to the library. Parents must also come in by providing the students with the necessary scholastic materials that a student will need for the exams.
This should be done early so that they can get familiar with using them.
Discipline has time immemorial gone hand in hand with success. For students to be successful, they must also be disciplined.
Many a time, when students reach a candidate class they develop a false attitude of feeling ‘special’ and thus ‘untouchable.’
This leads to gross indiscipline as they assume they are no longer under the control of the school but the examination council.
This is a very dangerous way of thinking and should henceforth be discouraged.
The message you should pass to the students is that a boat often capsizes at the shores.
Or that a pot breaks at the doorstep.