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Last-minute tips for GSAT exams

Published:Wednesday | March 24, 2010 | 12:00 AM

This week thousands of children will sit the GSAT examinations. After years of preparation, the day has come. Here are some tips to aid last-minute preparation.

Relax, relax, relax

This starts with the parents, especially the mothers. We all want to see our children perform well. Most people are wired and fired up. Many parents are as anxious (sometimes even more anxious) as their children but it is important to manage tension and anxiety in these last hours before the examination.

Parents, remain calm and relaxed and do not transfer too much of your anxiety to the children. This will only increase the children's anxiety level and affect their performance. Today is 'back-off day'. Don't pressure the children today. Give them enough opportunity to relax. Relax the study rules and allow them to have some fun. If they are too worked up, do some deep- breathing exercises with them.

Reassure them

Reassure your children. Say that all you expect of them is for them to do their best. Remember, today is 'back-off day'. Don't pressure the children today. Don't put down your children or compare them with other children or their siblings. Today is the day to love, hug and reassure.

Sleep well

Ensure that your children get enough sleep, especially on the night before the examinations. We all need adequate amounts of sleep to perform well and this is especially so before an examination. A tired, sleep-deprived child will not perform well in the examination. Also, note that excess anxiety on the night before an examination can affect sleep.

Eat well

Nutrition is always important. Ensure that your children are adequately fed at this time. Undernutrition and overnutrition impact negatively on well-being. Avoid foods and drinks containing caffeine, including 'fizzy drinks', especially the night before and morning of the examination. Ensure that your children have a good breakfast and lunch on the day of the examinations. It is difficult to concentrate when hungry.

On examination day

On examination day, remain calm. Some parents, in their anxiety, stay around the school while their children are sitting examinations. This can be distracting and may generate too much anxiety in the children. Encourage your child to walk into the examination room confident, cool and calm.

Dr Wendel Abel is a consultant psychiatrist and heads Section of Psychiatry, Deptartment of Community Health and Psychiatry, University of the West Indies, 977-1108; email: