Last year, we were almost where we are today, just a bit more scared. Everything was shut down the world over, well almost. We were all sitting at home, too scared to even breathe too deeply, lest we inhale the mysterious virus that was making people sick and even killing them.

There was uncertainty about everything, nobody knew what was going to happen and how long people would be living under the constant fear of getting sick.

Well, some of the uncertainties have subsided and we do have the answers to a few of the questions that concerned us last year — like when and if we would get

a vaccine for Covid-19. But otherwise, most of the SOPs are still in place, there are shutdowns in places and social distancing is prevailing, though not really being practised. The third wave of Covid-19 has arrived and so many things that had opened up are shut down, or restricted again.

One of the major uncertainties and worries that still remain is the one related to students and their studies. After schools reopening sometime ago, they are now back to online classes or having a lower number of students in the classrooms to ensure social distancing.

And in all this, what is worrying for all students is how their school and academic session going to end. Will there be exams? Will they be online or in campus? Will they take place at the scheduled time or will they be delayed? Will the questions cover all the syllabus or will it be reduced?

There are so many questions that are troubling students right now, which is a very crucial time when their focus should be fully on their studies and exams preparations.

I know when people tell students to not think about what is going to happen and just concentrate on their classes and preparation, it really bugs them. And why shouldn’t it? After all, these questions are related to studies and the upcoming exams and how can they prepare when they don’t really know for sure when and how they will give their exams?

You know what I am going to say to this? Well, let me tell you — do not think about things you cannot control and focus on your classes and preparations. Okay, so I am saying the same thing and it’s annoying to you. But, friends, that is what you should do because it is the only thing you can do.

There is no denying that there will be exams for most of you, unlike last year. Even if you wish them to be cancelled, it is not likely to happen. You may not agree to the way they would be conducted, or their timing, but they are fast approaching and you have got to appear in them and do your best. Even if things are not the way you would ideally want them, you have to face them. And frankly, when have we ever enjoyed giving exams or looking forward to them?

Here are some ways in which you can get yourself to keep all distracting thoughts away and focus on your future and your studies, which will define this future.

Stop indulging in self-pity

It is so easy to blame the world for all that is happening to you — and in this case it really isn’t your doing that a virus is playing havoc with the whole world. But it won’t help and the education officials and boards, school authorities and teachers will continue to do their job — which is to ensure that students do not lose an academic year and move on to the next class, with or without exams.

So, when they are doing their job, you need to do your job too and study rather than blame them for being so unfair with you by having exams when online classes were such a waste of time. Being depressed and feeling sorry for yourself is only going to get you in a dull mood, too demotivated to study.

Form a strong study group

You can find motivation by joining up forces with other students and getting into the study mode. Since social distancing is still there, you will not be getting together somewhere to study, but you can always connect with like-minded friends and share what and how you are preparing for your exams and asking them the same.

Turn to them when there is a difficulty. This can be done through messaging, with your parent’s permission of course, or recording explanations/lectures and sharing them on study messaging groups.

They say the best way to learn is to teach someone else. So, do it, but make sure to avoid talks that are demotivating, even if they are meant as a joke.

Follow a strict schedule

Our timings have gone topsy-turvy as we have been home most of the year. Without having set timings for everyday routine, such as sleeping or eating, we waste a lot of time because there is no rush to get anywhere. What used to be done by midday is now delayed till the night, if not the next day.

Think back on how you did things at this time of the academic year before 2020, how you prepared for the upcoming exams and studied with focus. Now try to maintain a similar daily routine, even if you are not going to your school or college, and do not do anything else except studying during the day.

Give yourself deadlines

Give yourself deadlines for doing things and follow them strictly. For those of you who do not have an exam date yet, or are hoping their mode of testing (online, on campus or teachers’ evaluation) will change, it is very important to tell yourself that it really doesn’t matter how the exams take place, what matters is you doing your best and for that you don’t have time to waste.

Make a timetable for when to study which subject and when your revision should start, and follow that timetable strictly. And do keep in mind that Ramazan is coming up soon and your study schedule will get affected, so do as much as you can before that.

Connect with your teachers

While the teacher-student connection hasn’t been as strong in the last year as it usually is, all teachers have a lot of concern and care for their students, even if they have had little interaction in person. They care about your studies and performance, so do not hesitate to ask them anything that is confusing you.

Remember, no question is a stupid question, so ask them anything for they are there to tell you what you know not and guide you when you face a problem.

Your teachers are as worried as you are about the way things are right now and, trust me, they will totally understand your apprehensions and worries. Share them with them. You will see that just talking with them in general will ease a lot of your worries.

Much in the last one year has not been the way we wanted. But we survived the great Covid-19 pandemic and that should be reason enough for us to cherish life and all that it brings and make sure to thrive. And you can do this by giving your studies your best shot.

Published in Dawn, Young World, April 3rd, 2021

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