Sun | Apr 5, 2020

Recounting first-time GSAT experience ... and give tips to PEP students

Published:Friday | February 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Fabian Bernard
Kimberly Haughton

Anxiety and high stress levels racked a number of students who were among the first cohort who sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) when it replaced the Common Entrance Examination in 1999. However, Fabian Bernard recalled that his situation was compounded by the fact that his mother was a teacher.

Bernard was among a number of persons asked by The Gleaner to share their experience of being the first set of students to sit GSAT. They were further asked to give advice to students who are preparing for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) that will replace GSAT.

PEP is a new assessment for students at the primary level and provides a profile of students' academic progress, their strengths and weaknesses, and their readiness for grade seven.

Bernard shared that over time, with the help of teachers at Greater Portmore Primary School, which he attended, and his family, he grasped the necessary concepts.

"The teachers were very supportive and the transition was smooth in terms of the process from Common Entrance to GSAT. The only issue I can remember is that the expectations were very high. We were the first cohort, so teachers wanted us to perform well. We didn't have any other choice but to perform well," he told The Gleaner.

"It was a double pressure because my mother is a teacher, so the expectations were heightened. I had to put in a lot of work it was very hectic."

He told The Gleaner also that the exam days were very nerve-racking, but said the fact that he got his first choice, when the results were announced, was a signal that he successfully surmounted the challenges.

"Nervousness took a toll on me on the day. I tried to be cautious, so I took a longer time to answer the questions. I don't remember which subject it was, but I remember I didn't get to finish the exam because the time ran out before I could complete all the questions," said the Wolmer's Boys' School past student.




Kimberly Haughton, on the other hand, said that though she encountered nervousness along the way, she was rather excited to see what the exam would be like.

"The only thing that had me nervous was the fact that it was a one-shot exam, it wasn't a pass and fail, but a pass and place you. So it was something teachers always emphasised to bear in mind," said the 31-year-old, who was a student at Bethel Primary and Junior High School in Hanover.

"Personally, though, I didn't feel anyway, because the teachers were there with us. I rather felt honoured and very excited to be among the first set of students," the former Rusea's High School student said.

Both students said that focus and excellent time management are certainties for success.

"What works for me is prayer. I would encourage the students to pray before they start to study. Also, try to study at least three hours per day. Set objectives as to what you need to cover for that particular day and have a time table," Bernard advised.

Students are currently preparing for PEP, which will replace GSAT in 2019.