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Copy of Common mistakes students make in science exam

Hard truths of learning science

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My child has been doing well for science in P3 and P4 but his grades dropped drastically in P5. Why is that so?

The learning process for science is really fun.

Student see lots of videos of animals, plants and engage in experimental activities with their schoolmates. To top it off, they get to go on school trips to see the wonders of nature!

However, doing the above does not give your child high marks.


Many students lack these two very important skills:

1) Applying concepts

2) Communicating the concept clearly. (Yes, I bold the word “clearly”)


1) Applying concepts

The child may have tried out many experiments, watch documentary videos, read science magazines.

I am happy that your child does those activities. You child will get a clearer picture of how the concepts are applied in different situations.

However, in the exam, the child needs to apply the concepts to the question. To do that, your child needs to know what the question demands!

They don’t know how to interpret data, cannot spot clues in the question, misread the question and many more.

That is why I have seen many, many students apply the concepts wrongly.


2) Communication

After marking so many science papers, I see students made these common mistakes:


A) Not using correct key words.

This is where teachers feel frustrated.

By using your own words, it can potentially give a very different meaning to the answer.

Imagine a teacher has so many science papers to mark. Each student give their own words to explain the process. The teacher has to slow down and analyse every SINGLE sentence to second guess your child’s understanding of concepts.

After a while, the teacher just gives up analysing your answer and mark it as wrong.

What happen after that?

The student will approach the teacher and debate they have understood the correct points.


B) Student skipped steps when explaining a process.

This happens way too often.

The student writes the end result without explaining the reason why that end result happens.

This is similar to a student telling me her good friend was caught using her handphone in class without giving me the reason why she used her handphone.

Is it because she is distracted by some new item in a game or she is attending to some emergency situation back at home?

In science, we are always hungry to clear our doubts.

We ask: “Why this work? Why that doesn’t work? How come the end result is like this?”

It is the same when explaining science concepts, we need to communicate clearly so the listener will not leave any doubt.

So if your child has skipped the thought process, the teacher will be in doubt and question his understanding of concepts.


In my classes, I always make sure my students know how to:


1) apply concepts

I don’t just teach technique to spot the demand of the question, I teach them how teachers set the question so they are prepared for it.


2) Communicate effectively with the teacher

I don’t just give cliché steps taught in many schools such as Concept, Evidence and Explain.

I give them specific pointers specific to a type of question


Hope this post helps you to understand your child’s problems.


In the next post, I will be sharing some important mistakes your child must not make ever again.


Do stay tune.


To the child: Stay inquisitive and think different constantly.



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