Career & Education

How PORPE can help your child succeed in school

Dr Karla

Sunday, March 17, 2019

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PORPE is a learning strategy based on five steps which aid in test preparation and is particularly useful to secondary and tertiary students. The acronym stands for 'Predict, Organise, Rehearse, Practise, Evaluate'.

Michelle Simpson (1986) developed the strategy in response to her students' anxiety about sitting essay examinations. She noted that while some amount of anxiety is normal and desirable, too much tension can cause a mental block. PORPE therefore builds confidence in students.

Research shows that students trained in PORPE scored significantly better on exams than those who weren't.

I use it myself because I believe academic success relies on the ability to learn, and it is therefore necessary for students to learn how to learn. I am ususally met with resistance at first because most students oppose writing — and PORPE does entail writing — but I have found this method to be very effective.

Step One: Plan/Predict

Read and annotate notes. Annotation involves reading portions of the textbook or handout and recording key ideas in the margin or on sticky notes which can be placed on the page.

Review the syllabus and predict possible issues. Ensure that chapter questions and summaries are read. Be on the lookout for bold faced headings and/or italicised words or phrases. Students are stimulated to process and read their texts actively. They should listen carefully to the teacher and make note of emphases.

Step Two: Organise

Be organised. Ensure that worksheets and handouts are carefully secured in a folder. Write out key ideas, thus creating a study checklist.

Keep formulas, diagrams, maps and charts on separate sheets for easy review.

Generate questions and answers. Know the format of the test. Is it a multiple choice, structured questions or essay exam?

Step Three: Rehearse

This step engages students in active recitation and monitoring of memory. Many students believe that if they stare long enough on the text, their brains will magically absorb the material (the osmosis principle). Of course, this is never the case. Students must actively read and test themselves on key ideas. They must say things out loud or write down key points. They must connect new information with old information.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. One must repeat key points and ideas out loud until the key ideas are locked in long-term memory.

Step Four: Practise

This is the validation step of learning because students must recall answers to their predicted questions in a public and observable form. Just as if you were training to run a marathon, one must practise running and not walking, and this must begin long before the actual marathon.

Practise answering end-of-chapter questions as well as past paper questions. Time oneself.

Gauge answers for accuracy and completion. Examine the quality of answers and evaluate one's readiness for the exam. Were key points or details left out? Is understanding demonstrated? Were essays carefully written and organised with an introduction followed by main points followed by conclusion? If further review is indicated, then get back to review.

I have found the PORPE strategy, in my own practice, to be effective in improving reading comprehension and essay writing, which are necessary for all subjects. It must be consciously applied. This method stimulates students to synthesise, analyse and think about key concepts. It has long-term effects on student learning and is definitely worth a try.

Dr Karla Hylton is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, or

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