Don’t place any undue stress on students and get them to centres in good time!
That is the advice being given to parents and guardians whose children will write the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE) next Tuesday.
Education Officer Everton Briggs, in offering several tips from the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation on how to make it a stress-free exam, has asked parents not to put pressure on their charges in the lead up to the exam and in particular, the day before the BSSEE.
“Once you eliminate all that pressure you will see how well they can do in the exam. There are some parents who keep pressuring the children with words such as ‘You gotta do well to get to this school or that school’; ‘[You] better do well!’, and ‘If you don’t do well you won’t get this or that … ’ they have to desist from doing it,” he warned.
Pointing out that usually some children keep hearing that “voice in their head” when they go to bed and wake up on the morning of the exam, Briggs stressed: “With that voice in their heads they can’t really concentrate in the examination room and those same expectations that the parents have would not be realised because the students are not comfortable on the day.”
As it relates to the morning of the 11 Plus, as it is familiarly known, he said it was important to arrive early at the centre in order to have children settled and ready to write the papers. “Parents must remember that having a child late for the examination not only affects their child but others [as well] since some students may be at the centre looking for their friends to come. If that friend is not there they would start to worry; and to combat all of that we encourage parents to take children there on time so they can settle,” he said.
While he advocates that the day before parents could give their children a treat by “taking them out somewhere”, he said: “Put them to bed early and tell them all the nice things, such as ‘I love you’, and, ‘Whatever you do is well done’, so that they can go to bed with a smile and wake up with that smile and transfer it then to the examination!”
Parents are also being reminded that they should provide “a reasonably good breakfast”. “Nothing too heavy, maybe the same breakfast usually given each morning,” said the education officer, who is one of the persons working in the Examinations Section to coordinate the smooth running of the BSSEE.
For parents who take the day off and may bring a child’s lunch, it is the same advice – Don’t give the children a meal that will make them too full. “We are asking parents to give the children a light snack to keep them through the last hour and a half of the examination and then afterwards they are free to take them to celebrate at restaurants across the island,” he suggested.
Stating that the Ministry does not advocate snacks, he nonetheless pointed out that there were some children who, while taking the examination, must have snacks. According to him, this would have been a request made by the parent due to some condition which the child may have. “This is allowed only by special request and is not for everyone,” he added.
There is also advice for parents to ensure that their deportment and attire are of the highest standard. It is recommended that they should be soberly dressed, avoid revealing outfits and conduct themselves in an orderly fashion.
“There are certain rules that regulate what happens on the examination day. Parents are only supposed to go to a particular point. So, we expect that they would abide by these rules so that we ensure the smooth running of the whole examination on that day and no law enforcement would be required,” Briggs maintained, while noting that members of the Royal Barbados Police Force are usually on duty at each school to quell any instance of misconduct.
Meanwhile, Senior Education Officer (Nursery and Primary) Joy Adamson wants children to see the BSSEE as “just another test that they have been practising” overtime. While wishing the over 3,700 students the best, she offered this advice: “Treat it as another test though in another location. Think of all the tips your teachers would have given you. Read over your work and make sure it is very clear and legible when you present it.”