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Assistant Chief Education Officer in the Student Assessment Unit, at the Ministry of Education, Sharon Neil, is appealing to parents to support and not pressure their children, in light of the upcoming Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), which takes place on March 26 and 27.
“I believe that parents have a critical role to play in helping the children to relax and be focused during this time. I think it is important that parents do not pretend as if it’s important, because we do know that it is important. But at the same time, we want parents to help children to replace negative thoughts or doubts that they may have about their abilities, with more positive thoughts,” she said, in an interview with JIS News.
Mrs. Neil emphasised that parents should focus on positive words, in the eventuality that the child has negative perceptions prior to the examination.
“If they [parents] hear their children saying things like ‘what’s going to happen if I can’t remember anything when I go into the exam?’, they could help them to refocus by saying things like ‘try to stay calm and when you stay calm, you will remember the things that you would have been studying, so try to remain calm,” she advised.
The Assistant Chief Education Officer also stressed that parents should ensure that their children get proper rest before the examination.
“I think that our parents should ensure that the children get adequate rest, especially the night before the examination; that they provide them with the materials they are going to need, so they feel prepared. Ensure that they have their pencils, an eraser, and a sharpener,” she said.
“Make some plans for the child to have a nutritious breakfast and a snack during the two days of the examination when they do get a break. That would contribute to helping the children believe that parents are supporting, rather than pressuring, and that parents, even though they might be anxious, should try their best not to communicate this anxiety to the students,” she advised.
According to Mrs. Neil, the Ministry is hopeful that the performance will improve. “We hope that we will see better performances than in previous years. As always, our expectation is that the students will continue to demonstrate that they have been learning, and show their teachers, their parents, and the Ministry, that the programmes which are in place are working to their benefit and enabling them to give a better performance in the examination,” she said.
“The Ministry wants children to be comfortable on the day of the examination, so we are closing schools on the two days of the examination to ensure that space and noise is not a problem. The principals are ensuring that the examination rooms are appropriately arranged and that everything is in place. Principals or designated members of staff will be on hand to handle any emergencies that may arise. We are just encouraging all students to go out there and do their best,” she added.
Addressing the structure of the examination, Mrs. Neil pointed out that the GSAT is a curriculum-based test which means that all the questions and test papers are going to be drawn from the grade 4-6 curriculum.
“We have taken steps to ensure that the majority of students will have covered the content. The questions are based on what they are learning in schools. We hope for all of them to do the best that they can,” she said.

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