What is time management?
As far as tests of this kind are concerned, this means exactly as the phrase suggests;
to manage the time efficiently and effectively, to correctly answer as many questions
as possible within the time allowed for each test. In addition, time management also
implies being aware of the time/number of questions relationship. So, the children
should be trained to be mindful if they are progressing at the required speed at
any time during the test. They should also be taught to avoid spending excessive
time on certain questions categories than the question category merits.
How will the child be aware how much time he/she needs to spend on each category?
By constantly reminding the child about the benefits of time management before any
timed practice paper session and monitoring the progress by discussing the results
with the child. By showing the child through examples how much difference effective
time management would make to the results. If the children see their scores in the
practice papers are going up because they are using time management techniques, they
will find it much easier to adopt those techniques. However, time management needs
to be based on objective analysis of child’s strengths and weaknesses for each subject
How important is time management?
Being very competent with answering questions to a high degree of accuracy alone
would not be sufficient, as each test needs to be completed within a given time.
It is quite possible, especially with verbal reasoning, that your child would not
be able to complete all the questions in the time allowed. In fact only a very small
minority can manage that. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the child
is not only aware how much time each question category merits, but also to manage
that time to suit his/her strengths. Do not forget, what is required is to correctly
answer more questions within the given time than at least 80% of the children taking
the same exam.
When should time management variable be introduced?
Having got fairly familiar with the practice paper formats and quite competent with
the question categories, the child should start timed practice papers. The difference
will become immediately apparent as the child will find it very difficult to complete
the papers in the stated time. A few weeks from this, time management elements should
be introduced. It is quite possible to introduce time management little earlier for
English and Maths, but the child should not be bombarded with instructions and should
be allowed to digest the concepts. The child should have at least 2-3 months to practice
the time management skills.
How to implement time management?
During the practice sessions the strengths and weaknesses of the children should
be carefully recorded in relation to question categories and they should be fully
aware of this. There are some question categories all children would find difficult
and even in easier categories there may be one or two difficult questions. This is
quite normal, as they are designed that way and having to spend more time on some
question types is all part of the exam process. However, what the child needs to
know is roughly how much time each category of questions merits.This is easier to
manage in English and Maths, as difficult and more time consuming questions also
carry higher marks. Same is not true however for Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal
Reasoning, as every question carries identical mark irrespective of the level of
difficulty or the time needed to work out the answer. The extra time spent on some
questions will be balanced out by the time gained from the easier categories. The
child needs to get into a habit of answering the strong categories first. Your child
should start the test from the beginning working her/his way through until a weak
category is arrived at. Answer any question in that category that are exceptionally
easy and mark all the others with a circle around the question number and go on to
the next category and so on. Once the end of the test is reached, if there is any
time left, go back to the beginning and scan through the questions with circles around
them and find the least difficult category amongst them to work on. Then, the next
least difficult and so on. By doing this, you would have made sure that all the easy
questions are completed and you will have no regrets reflecting back on the test.
Also, if tests for any subject area are in multiple choice format in your region,
your child should leave himself/herself one or two minutes to go through the answer
sheet and mark all the unanswered questions with some answer. 20% chance of getting
a question your child finds impossible to answer right is better than no chance.
Besides, for some difficult questions the child would be able to reduce the possible
answers down to two and the probability would than go up to 50%.
“How can you expect a 10 year old child to adapt such a complex strategy?” you may
ask, especially when they are racing against time. Children are able to accomplish
a lot more than we give them credit for, as long as the benefits of such tactics
are demonstrated to them in real life during their practice sessions.
What are the techniques for improving time management skills?
Action speaks louder than words. Here is one simple suggestion:
Having established their weak and strong categories, give them a, say 50 minute,
Verbal Reasoning practice paper and ask them to answer every question in the same
order as they are set. Remind them of the remaining time after 20 minutes and 35
minutes. Stop the test exactly on 50 minutes. Mark the test together with your child.
Following day give her/him another practice paper with same question categories.
This time, before the child starts the test, tell him exactly in what order he/she
should answer the questions. In fact you should mark the answering order on the paper
starting with his/her strongest categories ending with the weakest. Try not to make
the order too complex, so the child would not need to go backwards and forwards many
times. Mark this test with him as well. If the degree of difficulty between the two
tests is very small and the question categories are nearly identical, the results
should be proof enough to the child which method is superior.
After the children clearly see the benefits of time management , it is just a matter
of reminding them with few more papers until they get into the habit of doing it
automatically. However, for this exercise you must guard against overestimating the
benefits, which may raise the child’s expectations too high. Do not expect very large
differences in scores, but a a few percentage points gained by effective time management
could make all the difference. At or near the cut-off points, there would be a dense
cluster of children and even one extra percentage point may be enough to overtake
40-50 other kids. Yet, good time management could bring quite a few more percentage
points than that.
Time management vs knowledge
Knowing exactly how to answer every category of question is a good start. And getting
the answers right for the vast majority of the time is even better. But, knowing
how to answer each question correctly within the time allocated for that question
is what brings success. Correctly answering more questions than at least 550 of the
670 kids hoping to get admitted to their choice of grammar school, which only takes
120 newcomers every year, during the time allowed in the actual 11 Plus Exams, is
what makes your dream come true.