With just under a week to go before children write the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination (BSSEE), Deputy Education Officer responsible for schools, Joy Adamson, is issuing some important advice to parents and guardians to help minimise stress before, during and after the May 2 exam.

Also, with the exam coming after a Bank Holiday, Mrs. Adamson is urging parents to make May 1 a day of relaxation without studying or cramming.

“Allow children to have a relaxing day. Make sure to get them to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. This is not a day to remind them of that ‘Big Day’ tomorrow. This is a day to encourage them and to say that you will be proud of them wherever they are assigned. Be positive,” she advised.

To truly ensure that students get an early start, it is recommended that their uniforms be prepared in advance and erasers and sharpened pencils are secured in pencil cases the night before.

Students receiving some advice from their teacher before heading to the 11-plus exam. (FP)

The BSSEE, familiarly known as the 11 Plus or Common Entrance Examination, starts at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2, and parents are reminded that after the child awakens there should be no thought of changing the breakfast menu.

The Deputy Chief, who deemed it unwise for children to be given food that they are unaccustomed to on examination day, said: “After that good night’s rest, they should be given a well-balanced breakfast – maybe a fruit, cereal, some protein, juice, tea, nothing too heavy or unfamiliar.”

Even where there will be breaks between papers to allow children to go to the bathroom or have a snack, parents are encouraged to only give light snacks, such as a sandwich or some water.

Furthermore, they are discouraged from congregating on the premises with what the official calls “a picnic basket”, as witnessed in the past at centres. “The heavy meal can follow after the exam, when they have their lunch,” Mrs. Adamson stated, alluding to the potential for this to make children lethargic.

With respect to arrival time, parents and guardians are advised to have their charges at the venue by 8:30 a.m. While noting that some schools may suggest different times to arrive, she recommended the earlier the better to put children at ease, “so they can relax and not be anxious from rushing”.

This notwithstanding, the Ministry official is urging parents to simply drop them off and leave the area and not congregate in the environs.  “[Parents] should not be disturbing in their behaviours or their appearance,” she warned, acknowledging that the Royal Barbados Police Force would be on site at all the centres to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Students chatting on the morning of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination. (FP)

For those anxious moments parents are expected to have after the exam and as they await the results, Mrs. Adamson has advised against bombarding the Education Ministry unnecessarily.

She stressed: “It normally takes between three to four weeks for the exam to be corrected and the marks issued…. As soon as the results arrive at the Ministry we will release them to the respective schools.”

Concluding by wishing all students success in their endeavours, the Deputy Chief Education Officer said: “Do your best and you will be rewarded…. Remember it is not the school that you attend that makes you successful; it is what you do when you get there. Let your hard work propel you to speed so fast that good luck has no choice but to make you a winner.”

The BSSEE will be held at the 22 public secondary schools across the island.


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