In August this year, many P3 students sat for the GEP Screening Exercise. Those who qualified for the first round of tests will receive a letter inviting them to attend the GEP Selection Exercise on 20 and 21 October this year, although the letter may be released by schools as late as a week before the test date itself.
While the two tests may sound similar, the GEP Selection Exercise includes one component that the GEP Screening Exercise doesn’t — the General Ability Assessment — in addition to the English Language and Mathematics papers. The best analogy for the General Ability component is that it’s similar to an IQ test, where students have to identify patterns and solve non-standard puzzles.
For those aiming to do well in the GEP Selection Test, here’s what you can do in the next four weeks.
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1. Practise Maths Olympiad questions
The mathematics questions are similar in scope and complexity as Maths Olympiad questions. (Take note that questions which require knowledge beyond P3 syllabus will not be tested so you could leave those out if you wish to be selective).This will expose them to a variety of concepts that they may not have seen before and prepare them for the multitude of ways the same concept can be tested. Familiarity with these types of questions will boost their confidence during the test, which is crucial since they’ll be working against a ticking clock.
GEP tests aside, practising such questions will also place them in good stead for their upper primary learning journey.
2. Learn words from Primary 4-5 vocabulary books
Check out the English section of any assessment book store and you’ll find plenty of vocabulary guides and aids for all levels. Students should pick the Primary 4 or higher level books, and learn as many words as possible.
This will help them in the English Language and General Ability components of the GEP Screening Test. For the English paper, having a large vocabulary will directly translate into greater success for the Vocabulary MCQ portion. For the General Ability Paper, knowing more words is necessary in answering the verbal or language type of General Ability questions.
3. Complete the Vocabulary and Cloze sections of the English Language Paper first, and do the Comprehension section last
In terms of time spent and marks earned, the Comprehension section requires the most amount of time per mark. Therefore, it makes sense to secure the low hanging fruits and complete the Vocabulary and Cloze sections first, which require less time per allocated mark.
For students who have trouble completing the paper, this time-management strategy could improve scores by 10-15%.
4. Don’t spend more than 3 minutes on an MCQ question
If a student is unsure about a particular question, he or she should shade the OAS first based on his or her best guess, and then circle the question. If time permits, the student can revisit the question later. If a student is struggling with a Maths MCQ question, the easiest method is to simply substitute each option into the question and see if the equations work out. This, however, is time-consuming and should be used only as a last resort.
Since there is no penalty for incorrect answers, students should not leave any MCQ blank. If they shade an answer on the OAS, they will at least have a 20% chance of earning the mark.
5. Don’t get stuck on open-ended questions
Unlike MCQ questions, open-ended Mathematics problem sums can take comparatively longer to solve. In addition, there’s no way to “guess” the answer.
If a student cannot figure out the method to solve an open-ended question, they should circle it and come back to it last. They should solve problem sums which they are familiar with first, then come back to the more challenging ones later if time permits. Again, this minimises the amount of time spent for the number of marks earned.
6. Think of the GEP Selection Exercise as a fun challenge, rather than a major exam
A student’s mentality to the GEP Selection Exercise is perhaps the most important factor in preparing for it. The GEP Selection Exercise takes place very close to the exam period, so students already have to study for exams. If they treat the GEP Selection Exercise as yet another exam to prepare for, students might be burdened with undue stress.
Instead, students should think of it as a fun challenge (like solving a crossword puzzle, for example). As with tackling any challenging problem, a clear head and a level mind unleashes a person’s full intellectual and creative potential.
Last but not least, students should remember to drink enough water, get a good night’s rest the day before, and bring spare stationery for the GEP Screening Exercise!