Which Assessment Books Should I Buy?

Assessment books seem like a staple when it comes to academics as parents stock up on these necessities once school is starting. However, on average, Singapore students only complete 60% of the assessment books that are purchased. 

Due to Singaporeans’ ‘kiasu’ mentality, parents often buy as many as they can for the fear of their children losing out, resulting in overbuying and underutilisation. Hence, I am here to help you save money on assessment books through this guide that can help single out the best books for your child!

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Types of assessment books

Assessment books can be split between the books for reading and the ones for doing. The ‘reading’ assessment books include content books and summary books that can add on or supplement what your child learns in class. The ‘doing’ books, on the other hand, consist of topical exercises and practice papers. Your child will need at most one or two of each type of assessment books to enrich and practise what he learns in class.

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Topical exercises vs practice papers (TYS)

Understanding the purpose of the different assessment books can help identify what books to purchase and how best to use them. Topical exercises are organised by topics and are often used to revise on specific areas in the syllabus. These can be used to hone weaker topics that your child might be struggling with. Practice papers are used more for getting accustomed to the examination format and to practise good time management.

It is recommended to start with doing practice papers to pick out the topics or components that your child is struggling with. After that, topical exercises can be used to work and improve on these identified areas. When nearing an examination, it is good to go back to doing practice papers to apply the revisions made onto an examination paper.

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Know what your child needs help in

It is crucial to understand the areas of struggle that your child has and the level of help that he needs when it comes to his studies. This can be figured out through looking at his schoolwork and test papers, as well as browsing through assessment book catalogues with your child to find out which books interest or capture your child’s attention.

Understanding what your child needs help in will allow you to pick out a book that is more targeted to his revision needs rather than purchasing books in bulk that are not specialised to what your child requires help in.

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Be aware of your child’s skill levels

Assessment books differ in difficulty and skill level required to attempt them. You would not purchase a Math Olympiad assessment book for your child who is struggling to pass his mathematics tests, nor would you buy a step-by-step science guide for your child who consistently aces all his science examinations. It is important to identify your child’s skill level and what he intends to work on with these assessment books, ensuring that you do not waste money purchasing books that do not add any value to your child’s learning.

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Recognise quality assessment books

Assessment books of the widest varieties are available at our fingertips, so how do we single out the best assessment books to purchase?

A rule of thumb is to purchase from brands that are frequented and recommended by educators and teachers as this means that the books are closest to the syllabus and thus of the most value and help. When possible, pick out books that have detailed answer explanations, especially for subjects like science, which can be tricky to understand if not explained well.

Remember to only purchase from official websites or authorised resellers as duplicates and replicas might not contain the full content that is originally in the books, and some of the content might even be changed or faked. It is better to purchase a handful of official content that can be utilised fully rather than to have a pile of replicas that might teach wrong information to your child.

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Pick out repetitive content

When purchasing more than one assessment book of the same type and subject, be wary that the assessment books do not touch on the same concepts or have questions that are too similar. Having two books of similar content prevents your child from experiencing different types of questions, and a lack of exposure to different question styles can pull your child’s learning down as he does not work with a wider variety of question forms that might appear in his examinations.

For content-based assessment books, try not to pick out two books that teach similar content or have the same content structure. It would be best to get one assessment book that goes in-depth into the syllabus for further self-revision and another that summarises content for last-minute refreshment a few days before an examination.

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