With the exam season upon us once again, stress is at its peak. Exams are either going on or are around the corner for most of you. While you have been attending your classes on-campus in this academic year, unlike the last couple of years when most classes were online, what you got out of it depends on your own individual learning ability.

So some of you may have studied well, in chunks all through the year and now have to just do your revision. A big round of applause for all of you!

But those who are just organising your books and notes now, you need to tighten you belt, take a deep breath and tell yourselves “I can do it. I have to do it.”

Learning is a very individual process. Teachers teach the same things to all students, it is how much each student takes in, how they process that information and then what they do with it, is what makes the difference in their performance in exams. Even though there is little time now, by making the best use of it and doing the right things, you can all prepare well and get good grades.

Being ready for a task is the first step towards doing it well. So let’s see how you can make yourself ready for preparing and giving your exams well.

Have a positive mindset

The key to everything lies in our mind. If we set our mind to achieving something, we can do it. Or at least we can give it all our best and whatever the result, we can rest assured that we tried to the best of our ability.

So have a positive mindset, where, no matter what your current state of preparation is, you tell yourself that “Yes, I can and I will do it.”

A clear and positive mindset will make you overcome any stress or doubts that you may have due to exam pressure. Make the effort to stay positive and push away all self-doubts, anxiety and negative thoughts that come to your mind. Initially it will not be easy, but by constantly trying to remain focused on your goals, you can learn to cultivate a positive attitude, after which studying for the toughest of exams will become easy.

Plan for success

Planning is very important for doing anything well. It is the foundation upon which all progress is made. So plan your learning and revision. And do it in an achievable and realistic way. This means that know where you stand academically, how much of the syllabus you already know and what you still need to cover. Then know your weakness and strengths. Focus on both to overcome your weaknesses and use your strengths to your advantage.

For instance, if you have a poor memory for dates, you can plan to give extra effort and time to learn all the important dates in your history exam syllabus. And if you are good at drawing or are a visual learner (retaining things better when you see them), then learn diagrams, charts, maps, etc., and use them to support your answer in exams, where applicable. And also draw mind-maps while learning to retain better.

Planning actually includes much more than this, but it is basically knowing how you are going to go from point A to point B. In this case, your point A is where you are today, and your point B is your exams. You know yourself best, so make your own plan rather than ask a friend for their study schedule and then follow it.

Choose the right place to study

To learn faster, you need your surroundings to be conducive to learning. Use a proper table, with all your study material there, away from household noise and distractions. Make sure the place is well lit and airy.

Never try and sit or lay on the bed to study. It is a relaxing posture and you will soon end up feeling sleepy. You should be comfortable enough to sit for long hours but not so relaxed that you feel sleepy.

Try to tell your family to keep the noise down and not disturb you during your study hours.

Know your learning style

Different people learn best in different ways. The three broad types of learners are — visual learners, auditory learners and kinaesthetic learners.

If you don’t know which of these you are, read a bit about it and try and learn your style. Now apply this style to your learning to get the most of it. You must discover what works best for you — once you know this, you can always use the method that will benefit you the most.

Going into the details of the different style needs a separate article of its own, we will leave it for some other time and I will leave you to do some reading up on it on your own.

Make a study timetable

This is part of the planning stage, but let’s talk about it separately. Access where you stand in your exam preparations and write down what you still have to cover in detail. Next write what you find easy and already know. Writing things down is important as it gives more clarity and focus to things. It helps you to be more organised, leaving little chance of missing out on anything.

Next analyse how much time you will be able to take out for studies each day, and make a timetable accordingly. You need to allot proper time to different subjects and topics, prioritising them on the basis of the length of the syllabus and difficulty.

Also make the timetable keeping in mind the best time to study, when your mind works best. Keep the difficult subjects and topics for the time when you feel your brain works the best, it is fresh and learning is faster.

Take regular breaks and rest well

Taking regular break is important to prevent burnout and stress. A relaxed body and mind is important, so take regular breaks and sleep well at night.

Sitting down to study non-stop for even a couple of hours will not be very fruitful since your productivity tends to decline unless you stop to recharge ourself.

Take short breaks, of 10 minutes, to take a walk, drink or munch on something, talk to family and come back and start studying again. Avoid using gadgets during these breaks since it will lead to a major break in your concentration as your attention can get diverted by something you saw on the screen or a message you read and can’t stop thinking about it after that.

A short break should lead to relaxation rather than distraction. And don’t forget to sleep properly the night before an exam, otherwise, no matter how good your preparation is, your mind will be sleepy and won’t respond the way it should.

Know your exam

You need to know the type of exam you are going to give — whether it will be of long essay type answers or a multiple choice paper. You need to know what you are expected to do.

This you can easily learn in various ways. Firstly, your teachers will tell you about the kind of paper that will come, how you are to attempt it and their expectations from you students. The other way to learn about your exam paper is to go through the past examination papers and see the style and type of questions asked. Practice answering these past papers.

The third way is to read the instructions well during the exams before starting with the answers. You may have followed the first two ways properly, but sometimes exam papers can be full of surprises, so reading the exam instructions and questions properly is very important.

Finally practice the past exam questions to become familiar with the way you are expected to answer questions and also assess your preparation.

There are, of course, a lot of other things that you can do to prepare for the exams, but these tips are good enough to make your final exams seem less daunting.

Good luck!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 26th, 2022

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