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Last-minute exam tips

March 10, 2018


Illustration by Muhammad Faizan
Illustration by Muhammad Faizan

Exams are nerve-wracking. Those who know how to calm their nerves, do the right things before, during and after an exam. They ones who have a good chance of acing their papers. And those who are not well-organised and can’t seem to think straight, due to stress are likely to face an uphill task while giving an exam.

Now that many of you are having your final exams, there is little sense in talking about study tips and techniques, time for these has passed. So we’ll go through some things that you can keep in mind to sail through this tough time triumphantly.

It is exam time for many of you, and those who can keep their wits will triumph as the time for learning is over

Keep an eye on the clock

Every minute counts when it is the exam season. And I am not talking about the duration of the exam only, what you do with your time inside is as important as what you do outside the exam hall.

Make sure every minute of your time counts. Set aside clear timings for when you will rest after coming back from a paper, how much you will spend in eating, studying and doing only the most important non-academic tasking during exams.

Set the alarm

Set the alarm early enough to wake up with enough time to get ready, have something to eat and revise before heading to school.

Keep spares

Keep spares of the most important stationery items as you may not be allowed to borrow it during the exam and not having a ruler or a sharpener may divert your attention and make you nervous.

If you are using pencils, keep spare sharpened pencils so that you don’t have to waste time sharpening it.

Eat light but right

Don’t go for an exam on an empty stomach. Nervousness does make us unable to swallow even a morsel early morning, but have a glass of milk at least to keep your energy level up.

Something sweet will give you a sugar and energy boost, but a very heavy breakfast of fried parathas and eggs will make you lazy and may even result in you needing a toilet break. You don’t want that to happen to you, do you?

Keep checking the timetable

Check the exam timetable regularly to make sure there is no confusion about the venue, time and subject of the exam. It is easy to get confused about which subject’s exam you are having when, especially when the exams tend to go on for a longer period, as is usually the case with exams of higher classes that take weeks to conclude.

Set your bag the night before

No matter how hard pressed for time you are, prepare your bag or whatever you are taking with you to the exam, the night before it. Your ID and stationery being the most important things.

Leave home early

Head to the school or exam venue with plenty of time. Keep in mind that vehicle breakdown, traffic jam and any other unexpected event can occur, and even the most well-prepared student gets a little disturbed if they arrive at the nick of time or late for an exam. Some places can have a strict policy and disallow late comers.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Avoid negative vibes

Some people tend to get more nervous than others. If you have friends like that, don’t hang out with them just before a paper, their nervousness will rub off on you too.

And if you suddenly find yourself getting jittery, take deep breaths, take a few sips of water and recite some prayers. Try to jerk away negative thoughts. Focus.

Don’t rush to answer

Once you receive your answer and question papers, focus on writing your name and details on the answer sheet, reading the question paper properly and understanding the instructions.

Some students don’t pay attention to the instructions on the question paper and may skip a question or do an extra one, or in the wrong sequence.

Pay attention to the marks

Always do the questions which carry more marks first — this instruction has been given to you since you started giving exams. Divide your time according to the length and details required in the answers and the marks they carry so that you don’t run short of time.

Writing is king

Even though people say that the content is important and that’s what gets you the marks, writing and a neat presentation are also very important as it gives a positive impression to the answer checker. They have so many answer sheets to check and if you make their job easy, they will give you the marks you deserve, and maybe some more.

It’s also true that when something is not clearly written and there are many spelling mistakes, even a correct answer can be perceived as wrong or the meaning will not be conveyed clearly and you will lose marks.

Ask when in doubt

Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner if you are not clear about something. Usually, the examiners are not the teachers of the examination paper’s subject, but they can always crosscheck with other teachers and clear your confusion.

Sometimes question papers carry errors that do not come to light unless students point them out, so when in doubt, just ask. But don’t be very loud as it will disturb others and irritate the examiner.

Just do it

Sometimes, during exams, you may feel your brain has totally gone blank, you can’t recall anything. Panic starts to set in.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, take it out slowly. Do it once more. Now open your eyes once more, look at the question again, start writing whatever little about the answer that comes to mind. Once you get started, your brain will kick start and you will start remembering more details.

Sometimes our brain just needs a trigger.

The wise always revise

Don’t be in a rush to hand in your answer sheet and be the first to finish the paper. This competition is about who gets more marks and not who is faster.

Revise your answers as thoroughly as you can, depending on the time you have. You are bound to find some mistakes and oversights that can cause you dearly in terms of marks.

Even if you have revised your answers, and there is still time, what’s the harm in sitting a little longer with the answer sheet? You may suddenly remember a point you might have missed.

But don’t keep changing your answers too much if there is too much time left. Some people can become uncertain and end up changing a right answer with the wrong one.

Secure the sheets well

Staple, pin or secure the answer sheets well before handing them back and check your details once again.

Relax ... and start again

Once you go home, unwind, sleep, eat or do whatever you want for a little while and then start preparing again for the next paper. And follow these instructions from the top again.

Good luck!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 10th, 2018