Summer is here, you want to go out and enjoy the weather and every flavor of ice cream, but cant. Why all know why and have the same reason; EXAMS!
Exams are indeed nerve-wracking, stomach-churning, earth-shattering events but you don’t need to worry since they will be over soon.
Around this time every year most of us burry our heads in those horrifyingly thick and miserable textbooks, and cram all night to get used to those weird facts that our textbooks contain. Many of us see this as time for coffee runs, endless panic attacks and late nights, however, it need not be a time of stress.
Pre-exam jitters are very common and all of us face them, but it’s easy to get rid of them too. All you need is to be more confident, prepare well, arrive early at the exam and write your exam papers calmly. Before you know they will be over and you will be enjoying the summer vacations.
I know it’s not as simple as that. Some of you might not be able to concentrate at this time; others can’t just decide how to study, when to study, and where to study? For all those people, I have tips that might help you overcome your problems.
How to study?
Whenever you decide to study, have all your tools handy. By tools I mean pencils, pens, paper, highlighter, dictionary, calculator etc. All the material you need to study. If you have everything around, you won’t need to get up after every 5 minutes to grab a dictionary or a ruler from your room, which I’m sure, is very messy. This will save your time that you usually waste. Keep all your tools in a box/bag so that you don’t waste time again.
Next, skim through the text to get general ideas. By skimming through you will remember points discussed in class. Take out the notes you made in class and go through them. If in case you didn’t its still not too late! Make revision notes. Then read everything in the topic carefully. Memorize the most important facts and read through the text until you are in a position to explain in your own words.
Pay extra attention to illustrations, maps, figures, diagrams, drawing, summaries etc. This will help you grasp ideas and keep points in mind for a long time. After studying the topic thoroughly test yourself. An oral or written test will help you evaluate how much you know about the topic and then move on to the next one.
When to study?
We often think we can concentrate perfectly at night when the rest of the world is sleeping. It is true for a lot of people but not for everyone. Studying at night has one major advantage that is peace. Agreed, that there are no interruptions during the night and one can study peacefully, however, if you watch TV all day and chat on the internet and intend to study at night, then change your decision. By the time you open the books at night, you will be tired and asleep before you even know. If you still believe that you are a night person and can work best at night, go for it. However, make sure you don’t exhaust yourself in the day and take a nap in the afternoon, to be fresh at night.
Some people are early birds, while others are night owls. Identify yourself and study when you are most alert. Whether its 2 at night or 6 in the morning. You should be alert and that’s what counts. Get into a routine and study at the same time everyday. That’s just like making a proper timetable. However, there are people like me who can’t stick to a time table for those I’d say decide how many hours to study or how many topics to cover. Don’t try to do all the work in one day. For example, don’t memorize the whole glossary in one single say, do it in parts so that they stay in your mind till the exams.
Where to study?
It’s best to study in the same place as much as possible. If you are a person you get irritated by mess, then study at a neat and clean place. Avoid window views, they can distract you. Also, if you are addicted to T.V or computer study away from them.
Make sure your study place is comfortable, it doesn’t really matter if you sit on the bed or on a chair with a table in front, it should be comfortable! You should be able to concentrate well in that place. Also, your study place should have good lighting and fresh air. If you are doing Math, then light music won’t harm. If it distracts you avoid it too. Keep the top of you desk uncluttered if you are using that to study.
Other tips that might help you.
Just start it: Once you start it’s always easier to continue.
Take a break: like after every hour, or every chapter. Eat something, talk a friend, check msn or Orkut or go for a short walk. Do what relaxes you, but make sure these breaks are short!
Work with a friend: combine study is a good idea! Encourage each other but make sure you don’t waste your or your friend’s time.
Be in control: don’t let a TV show or a friend’s call disturb you. Put off your cell phone. Lock it! Throw it! Do whatever but don’t let it distract you.
For all those who are studying for O/AS/A Level exams, it’s mandatory for all of you to go through at least 5 years of past papers. I cannot emphasis on how important it is. If you want to master the topic do 10 years of past papers. Learn them, practice them, and revise them. They actually help a lot! Go through marking schemes, examiner reports along with the past papers to know what the examiner actually wants you to write!
Study from as many reference books as you can. This gives you a variety of books and you don’t get bored. (All those who are preparing for levels, go through the books Cambridge University or the examiners have recommended). If you don’t know ask friends, teachers, go to bookshops, search on the net.
Contrary to popular belief, cramming all night is not the best way to study. You wont remember anything if you are tired and will end up wasting time.
Eat well. It’s a bad idea to sit for studying without eating something before that. Even if your stomach is tied up in knots you don’t feel like eating, have something nutritious. It will give you energy and help you focus.
While caffeine in coffee or cola can give a boost in the short term, taking in too much of it is not a good idea either, because it can negatively affect your sleep and cause you to feel anxious. It may also affect your ability to focus.
Don’t neglect your physical health during exams. Take out 15 to 20 minutes everyday and exercise since physical activity helps us get rid of success. It also exhausts us and helps us getting a restful sleep.
Learning for Exams.
Avoid cramming! Start studying well before the exam date. That’s the best thing I can say. Make a list of everything or keep the syllabus in front of you and make sure you do each and every topic thoroughly and revise it as many times as you can. Practice all questions related to it. Memorize all the facts and formulas. Don’t even leave one. Let me add, selective study might seem great before the exam but it’s not a good idea. You never know that a topic you leave comes in form of a 10 mark question without choice. Study hard and don’t worry, if you prepare well you will do well.
Prepare for the Big Day!
It’s important to get a good night’s sleep one day before the exam, so don’t cram a night before that. Make sure you get 8 to 9 hours of sleep and wake up early in the morning. If you get up early, try to revise your notes. If not, then have a healthy breakfast, if you can. Reach the exam hall, well in time and take everything you will need – extra pens, water, and tissues with you. If you feel really anxious before the exam, breathe slowly and deeply while waiting for the exam to start. Ultimately, be confident!
Writing Exams – the final challenge!
Once you open the question paper, read through it. Read all the questions and if there’s choice quickly decide which one’s you are going to attempt. Understand what the examiner is asking you in the form of those questions and make sure you give him the precise answer. Like if the question says describe don’t go onto explaining. This will just waste your time. Be to the point and specific. Answer according to the marks. Don’t go onto explaining a two mark question even if you know a lot about it. That wont impress the examiner, instead he/she might think you are a fool wasting your precious time on a small question instead of using it wisely tackling the hard questions.
Be sure you understand a question before you attempt it. Read the question again and again if you don’t. If after reading it, you still don’t understand don’t panic! Ask the teacher or invigilator if he/she can give any help. Don’t ever try to ask the answer, they won’t tell. It will just make them feel you are a bad student.
Do the easy questions first to boast your confidence. Answer MCQs in your mind and use a pencil to make them first. Use a pen after you recheck it! Solve all mathematical questions on a rough sheet; don’t try to do them in your mind even if you are a genius!
Plan how much time you’ll need for each question. If you’re stuck on a question, go on to the next. You can always come back to the unfinished one later. Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer to a question, always move on. Sometimes, other questions of the exam can trigger your memory or give you a hint. Take time to review your work and check your answers before you hand in the paper!
Exams over – Phew!
Once you are done, get ready to enjoy and gear up for the summer. If you have done well, congratulate yourself. However, if not don’t get disheartened. Keep in mind that exams are not the end of the world, there’s life beyond exams. And disappointing exam results don’t mean you have failed in life. There are lots of other opportunities for you to succeed in life.
To survive through the exam season study hard, be confident and believe in yourself. There is no need to panic. Exams are not a big deal, we give them twice or thrice every year, by now we are immune to them.
The ultimate study tip is that there is nothing like keeping a stock of comfortable food, your favorite snacks by your side while studying. A bottle of ice chilled coke and a packet of lays are the ultimate study buddies! Best of luck to all!