How Parents Can Help Their Kids with GSAT Exam Preparation

Every year, thousands of Grade 6 students across Jamaica make preparations to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) in the month of March. The GSAT exam is the first major national exam that students at the primary school level will take. This exam determines the high school to which they will be assigned when they graduate from primary or preparatory school.

Students undergo testing in the five subject areas of Mathematics, Language Arts, Communications Tasks, Social Studies and Science. For students, as well as for parents and teachers, this examination is taken very seriously and usually involves extensive and sometimes gruelling preparation. There are some steps that can be taken to help prepare kids for their GSAT exams and to ensure they perform optimally in order to receive a place in their school of choice.

Early Preparation is Key

It is important for students to start making preparations to sit the GSAT from as early as Grade 4. This is important, since the GSAT exam syllabus covers topics that students learn during Grades 4, 5 and 6. While most of the exam topics are covered in grades
5 and 6, all major skill areas learnt during the three year period between grades 4 and 6 are assessed. Parents can help students in their preparation by ensuring they begin to mentally prepare for the GSAT as soon as they enter Grade 4.

Practical steps parents can take to help with preparation at this stage include helping students to create and follow timetables for studying and revision, helping students with their homework, and keeping in touch with teachers to monitor the progress of students throughout the school year.

While study habits will come more naturally for some students, for others it will require significant guidance from parents. Ensuring students set aside a few hours each day for revision of lessons, studying and homework, will help them to better prepare for their GSAT examinations. It will also prevent last-minute cramming during the final months before the exam, and will increase the chances of optimal performance on exam day.

GSAT Past Papers

One very effective form of preparation for GSAT is working through past papers. There are publications available covering past paper questions for every subject area in the GSAT exams. Carlong Assessment Tests for GSAT are a popular choice and these tests may be bought at bookstores such as the Kingston Bookshop and the Sangster’s Bookshop. All major bookstores carry GSAT past paper questions.

Once students have covered the GSAT syllabus, which is usually by the first term in grade 6, they should begin to practice past paper questions. These should ideally be done under examination conditions, to get students acquainted with what the actual exam will be like and what they should expect on exam day.  Practice tests should be timed to ensure students are covering the tests within the time allotted for each paper. Based on how students perform on these practice papers, steps can then be taken to work on any weak areas.

In addition to practice paper books, there are several online forums designed specifically to help GSAT students with exam preparation techniques. While some are free of cost, others require a small fee for use. Websites such as and are popular choices. Since it is difficult for students to learn everything they need to know in class or in extra lessons, these online platforms offer additional support. However, parents should monitor the time spent by students online to ensure they are actually doing work and not using the time to socialize with their friends.

What to Do Just Before the GSAT Exams

As the GSAT exams draw closer, students should take regular study breaks to avoid feeling overwhelmed. If they have prepared in advance, they should be able to relax without feeling any panic. However, during the week just before the exam, they should do as many past papers as possible and work on timing.

The night before the exam, students should get a full night’s rest and should not complete any past papers. In addition, they should have a healthy breakfast the morning of the exam, which should ideally include brain food such as sardines or eggs. Finally, it is important that parents relax and avoid getting their children nervous before the GSAT exam.

If students and parents follow these steps for GSAT preparation, students will be well on their way to achieving success in the exams.

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