The role of reflection for Assessments and Yearly Examinations

There are 5 Pillars to help you with your learning: planning, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and reflection. Reflection involves pondering the present or past experiences with an eye on the future. It is a personal journey in which your experience of reflection evolves and matures over time.  It is a potent tool in the arsenal of learning.


Reflection is a personal experience: When I was at school all examinations were in the same hall and I had the same seat.   So each year twice a year two seats in front of me to the right was a friend who was Dux every year of my schooling. He would have his hand up for a new examination booklet while I was on page two of my booklet.  My immediate reflection was I wish I could write that fast and that much and resolved after that examination to see what I could do to achieve that goal. My reflection lead to an action which was to learn more content, work faster and practice writing more – sadly at the expense of my written legibility, to which  some of you will attest.


Often I reflect upon what he did to get such great results so I can offer those suggestions to you. No doubt he was academically gifted, well beyond my expectations and capability, though on deeper reflection, and over three decades later, I can see a pattern I had not discerned while at school.   He identified and worked to his strengths. In a pre – internet era  he used resources that were not in standard textbooks and he was hugely organised, disciplined with his time, focused and driven, could work quickly, played high level sport, was exceptional at debating and public speaking and is a decent human being of integrity.


My experience of a personal reflection of an event 37 years ago, has evolved and matured. The same should apply for you.


Reflection in the present moment: reflecting in the current moment is a powerful tool to make a note of an issue and then move on with the task at hand. In my Year 12 HSC Maths Examination I had one look at Question 10 and I panicked.  As I looked around the hall I was not the only person with concern – though my friend two seats in front of me to the right was ok working away. It was the only time in my era of examinations that I had to park my feelings, reflect on the current situation, decide on a course of action and move on. There was no further action and reflection required.  I could not and did not answer the question correctly – nor did a lot of other students.


What is your reflection in the present moment during an assessment period?    For example, you are in the middle of an assessment and you realise your notes are good, however, you are spending too much effort trying to recall facts and not allowing time for analysis and evaluation.  You should make mental note (instant reflection) to change your approach for the next assessment task – start learning the work earlier.


Reflection for future action:  Depending on how you feel about a task, your immediate post task reflection may involve a range of emotions from acceptance, relief, blame, jubilation or concern about your performance.  This will depend on your expectations, level of understanding and preparation for the task.  Once the emotions subside it is important to set aside time to assess your planning, relaxation, concentration and mindfulness in relation to your expectations and performance. This is the time to put into action a refined strategy to achieve realistic expectations and performance for the next round of assessment tasks.


Well that is the last of five themes for helping you with your Assessments and the Yearly Examinations. We hope these have been of some use for you.



Mindfulness for Assessments and the Yearly Examinations


There are 5 Pillars to help you with your learning: planning, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and reflection. Mindfulness if often associated with relaxation and meditation. Mindfulness for learning is drawing on your awareness to make decisions mindful of how you feel, your immediate context and what is on the horizon.


How do you feel? Are you feeling pressure that you are not prepared? If yes go back to you plan and concentrate on your revision. Are you in the assessment and your heart rate goes up because you have a question from left field? Relax take a deep mark the question and comeback to it later. Make sure you come back to it.


What is happening in your immediate context? Have you a grand final for a sporting commitment or do you want to attend you grandmothers birthday? Though related to planning, being mindful of these events closer to the task may involve you changing your plan. Maybe you need to get up a bit earlier or skip down social media time in order to do some revision. In a class assessment the biggest thing to be mindful of is time management.  You need to be mindful of the time you have allocated to each question and monitor this so you are not left short for the last question.


What is on the horizon? Too often we get caught up on the task close at hand. Sometimes it pays, when you are feeling the pressure, to be mindful of what is further down the track for you. When you achieve this perspective it does not take long for the anxiety or gentle uneasiness about the task to pass.   This enables you to deal with the issue and start the reflection process which is the last of the five concepts to help your learning.


One more week to go.



Concentration for Assessments and the Yearly Examinations 2015

To continue with our themes to assist your learning, in Week 6 we would like you to think about Concentration for Assessments and the Yearly examinations. There are 5 Pillars to help you with your learning: planning, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and reflection.


  1.  Why concentration? Concentration is the skill of focussing on the task at hand. The benefits include efficiency in completing tasks, greater clarity of thinking and it enables the capacity to push to the side distracting thoughts. The challenge is that you have to practice focus and concentration while balancing the ebbs and flows of motivation.


  1. Can you switch in and out of the concentration zone? It can be draining and exhausting to concentrate all the time and it takes practice to get the balance right. Setting up the right learning environment for you helps create the atmosphere for focus to begin. Chunk up the work, which needs to be competed, into periods of time that you know you can hold your concentration. Set a time for some gentle distractions before you need to refocus on the next task.


  1. Can you concentrate when it counts? This is when you are completing the assessment task or Yearly examinations. This requires specifically fine- tuned concentration where you focus on the question asked and the BOSTES terms while quickly shifting through the main facts, themes and examples you need to answer questions set.


We hope these tips are of some use to you. Can you remember the other two themes we have covered?




The role of relaxation for Assessments and the Yearly Examinations


To continue with the five themes to help you with your learning: planning, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and reflection.


Today we would like to focus on relaxation. This may seem a contradiction, however, when it comes to planning for and participating in assessments and examinations it is important to be relaxed.


  1. Why relax? When your body and mind is relaxed you are in a better position to think and act efficiently  with your decision making, recall of information and selective  use of relevant facts to answer questions. If you are thrown a curved ball in a task in a relaxed frame of mind you will be able to work through the options to best deal with the situation.
  2. How to relax in the preparation stage: Though this is a personal question there are some general guidelines to consider. In the planning and preparation stage,  allocate time to stand up go for a walk have a drink of water or play with your cat or dog.  As the assessment or examination approaches stick to your normal study routine by eating well, moderate exercise and sleep as per normal.
  3. How to relax in the testing stage: Prepare yourself mentally when you arrive in the Top Quad or class. Be silent with your own thoughts when you walk up the stairs or when the class is asked to be quiet for the task. Once seated in the examination room or class three deep breaths will help settle your focus.




Planning and preparing for Assessments and Yearly Examinations


There are 5 Pillars to help you with your learning: planning, relaxation, concentration, mindfulness and reflection.

Today we would like to focus on planning. We have discussed and provided a template to you plan for your assessment tasks this semester and in the past have talked about strategies for being organised in terms of day to day living, digital organisation of the laptop and the necessary files and folders and being organised in your thinking.  To elaborate here are some question to think about:

  1. Day to day living: In your day to day living have you mapped out your casual job commitments, the extra- curricular activities in which you participate, community service you might be doing, family events and time for yourself?
  2. Digital organisation: In relation to your digital organisation have you backed up your work, placed your files into their relevant folders, removed duplicated files, created an archive folder to partition off draft work file and folder no longer in use?
  3. Organised thinking: Do you logically think through your approach to revision with a step by step note taking process?  Do you prioitise subjects based on deadlines. Do you set an end point to move on to the next task?