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Taking the test

April 15, 2017

Exams never stop stressing us, no matter at which level we are studying and whether it’s a simple weekly test or the finals. And we never stop hating them, no matter how well we have studied and prepared for them. And what makes the final exams in May tougher is the fact that they come in such a hot time of the year, making us feel drained.

But it’s better to be well-prepared for something as important as this, so let’s help you a bit by going over the ways to keep a cool head during exams and work in a systematic manner to attempt all your questions well and in good time.

I am sure all of you are smart enough to already be aware of the tips that will be discussed here, but with all the study material floating in your head, a reminder is always a good thing. Just keep calm and read along.

Take your time

When you get your question paper in your hands, take a deep breath and go through it first. Don’t rush to answer without going through the whole paper. It will give you a complete picture of what you are supposed to do in the required time you have.

Now check the marks of each question. Are there any options that you can choose from? Which option do you know better? Look out for words like ‘brief’ ‘detailed’ ‘describe’ ‘summarise’ and ‘differentiate’. If you are allowed to write on the question paper, underline these words so that when you are writing the answer, you can focus on these words and give only a brief description where it is required, rather than waste time in a detailed explanation that has not been asked.

It is so easy to overlook this in a rush to answer a question, especially when we are excited because we do know the answer.

Time management

Calculate the time you have and how much time you should be giving to each section and question, depending on the length of the answers required. You should be leaving enough time for revision at the end and it is likely that you will end up spending more time on a question than you had planned.

Mismanagement of time is the most likely way in which students lose marks because they end up leaving questions unanswered, and it feels worst when they do know the answers but don’t have the time to write them!

Don’t rush to finish

There are no extra marks for finishing first or handing over your answer sheet before time. So never be in a rush to finish too early, if you have done so, chances are that you either missed out on a question or didn’t answer in the required detail. So if you have finished too early, go through the answers again, check for mistakes and do corrections if required.

You can also take breaks during the exam by keeping your pen down and flexing your fingers to relax them. Shut your eyes and take deep breaths to clear your head. But keep these breaks short.

Don’t jump around too much

Don’t jump the sequence too much by only answering the easy questions first and leaving out many questions in between. If you do this, you will end up wasting too much time searching for the questions you left out and reading them again.

This will also be irritating for the examiner who is checking your paper. It is better to answer the questions in the order they are given. And if you do have to leave a part of the question in case you can’t recall the answer well, leave enough lines in the answer sheet so that you can come back to it and write there.

Also mark the question, maybe with a question mark, to remember that you have left it for the time being. If you do leave some questions to attempt later, keep them to the minimum.  

Don’t look around

Don’t look around at the faces of other students or your friends to see how they are doing and to check if they are finding the paper tough or easy. The only looks you will exchange during exam time are tension-filled glances that will only confuse you more. Even if your friend finds the paper easy, the exam tension will make it seem as if they are having a tough time and this will increase your pressure.   

Just focus on the task in front of you and keep you mind free of other thoughts.

There is no rocket science in these tips and you may be following them too. This is just a short reminder of what you need to focus on when giving an exam. So relax and good luck!

Published in Dawn, Young World April 15th, 2017