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A 2019 examination gold medalist shares tips with students on how to get ready for this month’s exams
The baccalaureate examination (Bac II) for 12th-grade students, which was to be held in August 2020 but had to be postponed due to the pandemic, is now scheduled for late December. A 2019 Grade A student as well as an outstanding math student who won the gold medal in the national examination, San Kimsorng sat down with Cambodianess’ Him Imrorn to share his experience on how to get ready for the exams. He is currently a sophomore student majoring in business administration at the American University of Phnom Penh.
Him Imrorn: Having obtained grade A in the Bac II examination, would you share with us how you prepared for the exams?
San Kimsorng: As a student in a public school, I usually took part-time classes on subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, Khmer literature and history as the exams were approaching. Even though I had to study at school and for part-time classes, I still had plenty of time to enjoy life during my last year of high school. The way I prepared for Bac II is simple. First, there are only seven subjects chosen for the examination. Therefore, we only focus on those subjects. Next, we have to know the standard of the exam questions as this is key. When we clearly know the level of the test, our time for preparation is more effective because we don’t waste time on any irrelevant element. Regarding this, most students make one mistake: They put too much effort working on tests that don’t fall under the exam standards. So, don’t spend so much time on difficult exercises, which will not appear in the exam. However, those hard exercises are good for other examinations such as scholarship tests or outstanding-student examinations.
Now, let’s focus on the key points. How to know the Bac II standard questions? Ask the teachers? Ask seniors? YES. However, the most effective way is to spend time working on the previous exam papers by yourself.
Him Imrorn: You had a double task in 2019: getting ready for the outstanding student exam and the Bac II examination. So, were these two tasks competing for your time? How did you manage this?
San Kimsorng: Basically, the national round of outstanding-student examination was conducted in April while the Bac II exam was in August 2019. According to last year’s statistics, among the 30 students who took the grade 12 outstanding-student examination at the national level, 10 students got Grade A in the Bac II examination. I agree that taking these two important exams the same year is challenging. However, there are students who can achieve both with good results. My recommendation is that every student should not be afraid of failure. Do not be afraid to fail the exam. Try your best to prepare and master time management.
Him Imrorn: There are some changes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which are creating both obstacles and opportunities. So, in your opinion, how can high school students make the best of it?
San Kimsorng: High school students should be well prepared for the test since they have had more time for preparation. For example, the exam that was to be conducted in August 2020 was postponed to December [this month]. So, they seem to have had more time for preparation. However, they have faced another difficulty, which is online learning. Some students have complained about how ineffective online learning was. There are about three weeks left before the exams and schools have reopened. Therefore, my suggestion is for them is to stop complaining and start studying.
Him Imrorn: Again, to pass the exam as well as to get grade A, it requires an ability to handle exercises as well as memorize questions. Would you share with us tips on how to balance these two tasks? What is the technique to effectively summarize lessons?
San Kimsorng: Knowledge comes from learning, which includes listening, reading, watching, reviewing, practicing and analyzing. The technique for practical exercises is practicing. You need to know the formula, understand the theory and practice it. As for memorizing questions and answers, you should understand the context around the lessons. Focus on the main points of the lessons and review them regularly until the exam day comes.
Him Imrorn: As you have mentioned, there is less than a month left before high school students’ exams. Would you have any short-cut technique to suggest to them so they can be ready for their exams?
San Kimsorng: The only way to pass an exam is having acquired knowledge because students cannot cheat on the tests. At this point, I advise all students to focus on past-year exam papers. Try to do them and measure your score to see how well you may do because previous-year papers and the real test will be somehow similar. If you are not clear about questions in past-year tests, ask your teachers’ or friends’ help. Please note that you also need to know how to write to get the best grades for the questions you are able to answer.