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Studies: Ready to face the exams?

December 01, 2012

The mid-term exams are here and you must be busy with your books. I am going to say what most of you are already doing, hopefully — study hard. And those who feel they still have a few days to go before they bury their head in books, well, I will just say this — study harder!

With loads of serious reading to be done these days by you, I will just make things short and snappy as we discuss ways in which you can prepare and revise in a better way for the exams or tests.

First of all, these exams are not your final exams … but they are exams nevertheless. You should take them as seriously as the finals because your year-end results will reflect your performance all through the year and not just in the final.

A major advantage these mid-year exams have over the finals is that they fall in early winter, when the temperature is cool and the load-shedding doesn’t drench you in sweat. So, you really don’t have the excuse of blaming the load-shedding for not being able to study much or your poor marks.

Let’s now recap (because you already know these tips and we have discussed them all many times in these pages) all the things that will help you study and revise well and thereby get good grades.

Reward yourself

Let us first focus on how you will reward yourself – in plain words ‘bribe yourself’ — for sitting down to study without an armed guard forcing you to do it. And then keep studying until you have really studied all you needed to study.

Knowing what your reward is, will put you in a better mood to study, but, mind you, the rewards I am talking about are simple thing that you will enjoy rather than expensive gifts. So don’t rush to ask your parents for the new expensive game that you have your eyes set on, but read on to know what other options I am going to suggest.

Munchies: These were my favourite study time indulgence, both while studying and while taking a break. A bag of your favourite chips beside you can make the company of dozens of books around you less boring and tedious. A bar of chocolate or a candy can give your brain the much needed sugar boost and can set your mood right in no time. Who won’t smile at the sight of a cool dark chocolate bar?

Hey, do watch the amount of munching you end up doing because too much food in our tummy just makes the head too sleepy to concentrate. So eat light but right.

TV time: Ten minutes of TV… okay, that’s too short a time for you, then how about just half and hour to watch your most favourite, not-to-be-missed show? Plan your studies in a way that you have either studied for a few hours before the show starts, or be honest to yourself and focus on your books after telly time.

You can also take shorter breaks and sit and watch television, maybe with a snack, after your head is aching from cracking difficult math sums.

Chatting, computer and gaming: A few minutes of indulging in these can be your reward for ‘finishing’ all that you needed to learn and revise. But if mommy has forbidden games and computers, cross them out of the list of your rewards. And of course, discuss these rewards with your parents first to see what they permit you to do.


Review all the things in the exam syllabus and all the concerned work done in the class. Don’t go for a short cut and just study selective topics. You must learn everything that’s in the exam course.

However, there must have been some topics that the teachers revised and emphasised more on during the last days. Focus more on them for they must be important. The recaps that teachers do just before the papers are sure to form the main chunk of the questions.

Points to note

Preparing notes as you learn, highlighting the important points, using coloured pens/markers for names, dates, and important words, and jotting down things in a condensed format, such as bullet points, are all useful tools for learning.

Short notes and bullet points are also handy for last day/minute revision. And adding colours makes the important words stand out in a sea of blue ink and become easy to remember.

Sleep well

Don’t tire yourself out by staying up most of the night or sleeping too little and getting up very early to study. You should have studied in advance, now you need to give your body the rest it needs otherwise your mind will be as blank as the answer sheet in front of you.

Eat well

Don’t skip your breakfast! Yes, you have time. Don’t think that the ten minutes, at the most, it will take you to do your breakfast will be better used in revision.

How much can you learn in these ten minutes? They can’t make up for the days and hours that you should have given to studies before the exam, but didn’t. But a nutritious breakfast will definitely give you the energy your body and brain needs. Besides, you will be less nervous, weak and forgetful.

And your grandmother’s advice of almonds in the mornings really holds some weight as almonds are considered super brain food. Start having those days before the exams, if not everyday on a regular basis.

Last minute revision

On the morning of an exam, revise the main items, formulas, dates, etc. You will be more likely to remember them this way and you will panic less.

Ready to go

Always check and keep your stationary items in your box/bag the night before — in the morning you will waste time doing this and that will make you nervous. Always keep a spare pencil and pen, you shouldn’t ask someone else for it. And not everyone has something to spare so you will just add to your nervousness.

Refill your pens, don’t do it during the paper. What if you accidentally spill ink on your paper or answer sheet? Sharpen your pencils the night before.

Before the paper starts, take out the stationary you will need and keep other things away. Sit back, take a deep breathe, say a prayer and you are all ready to handle the questions with confidence.

Good luck!