This exam season, beat the exam blues and make the most of your preparation!Saloni Khandelwal
Exams are around the corner. Are you stressed? Worry not! It’s not just you. Nothing instils fear, stress and anxiety in the minds of students like a big exam, be it Boards, entrance exams like IIT, CLAT, NEET or competitive exams like SBI PO or UPSC CSE. Acing in exams can be a difficult task without proper guidance and time management. The stress of an exam can take a toll on your health and sleeping pattern as well. But this stress escalates to a whole new level in the last few days. Many students find it difficult, stranded and confused during the last few days because of the vast syllabus to revise and recollect.
Thus, it is important to manage your revision to flourish under pressure in actual test environment. Here are 10 proven tricks that will ease your exam preparations in the last months so you can give the exam your best shot!
1. Short notes and Formulae on top of your mind
In the initial months, while studying it is wise to make short notes of the important points, timelines, figures and formulas in a revision notebook that you maintain religiously. Keep updating this notebook with every chapter you study and every formula you should ideally know by-heart. If you haven’t, then borrow your friends’ notes. In the last months these notes will come handy when time is less and course is more. Set out a few hours every couple of days to go through these notes, know them like the back of your hand. Even looking at them will help you so much, because our visual memory tends to be very strong, hence the focus on graphics in modern education.
2. Previous Year Papers & Mock Test series
Practicing and solving previous year questions gets you the upper edge. Attempt papers in a simulated exam environment to get accustomed to the actual exam scenario. Do not go beyond 5 to 7 years as the exam pattern changes every year, be updated about the exam pattern changes and syllabus upgrades. Best to attempt the last 10 Years Question Papers in a live, time bound environment .
3. X Min a Subject strategy
While attempting mock tests or previous year papers, divide your time equally among all subjects, and only take those minutes to attempt questions of that subject. Judiciously use the last 5-10 minutes allotted to the subject to revise and maximize your score depending upon the toughness level of non-attempted questions. Don't get caught up in one subject or question and lose an opportunity to score in the easier ones.
4. Practice the art of leaving questions
Every time you plan to practice previous papers or mocks tests, plan to solve the easy questions in the first half with a timer and try and maximise your score with your choice of question selection. This way, you will develop the art of leaving questions. While analysing your results after you are finished with your paper, devote 30-60 min to learn solving techniques and tricks of the questions you couldn't solve or solved wrong.
5. Analyse more than you write
After every mock/ previous paper you attempt, it is very important to analyse to know why you got a particular question wrong or why you left an easy question. Analyse your performance to weed out silly & avoidable mistakes, increase speed, identify high scoring areas, alternate ways and shortcuts to solve questions - this will improve your performance in the actual examination. You should keep updating your notes & formulae book while you analyse your performance. One tends to learn much faster from mistakes than from theoretical notes.
6. Maintain a daily routine & avoid new topics
A daily routine not only gives you a blueprint of your entire day but also inculcates discipline in your study. Most of all, it avoids last minute panic of not having covered the whole syllabus or not having practiced enough. Take time to formulate a comprehensive strategy. You can make a revision plan which includes Practice, Analysis and Study. A sample plan for the last months of an exam like IIT JEE can be:
1. Initial Week: Revise theory and prepare summaries
2. Second Week: 3 Hours Question Solving and remaining for notes
3. Last weeks: Mock Tests and Test Series, 2 sittings, 3 hours each
When you are revising, avoid any new topics as it adds to confusion. You should study syllabus changes and upgrades before your revision and not alongside.
7. Cyclic revision
You may follow a cyclic revision pattern. Revise each chapter in different phases from all the different sources of revision like Reference books, Notes, Test Series or Previous Papers. This strategy will help you in revisiting chapters more than once without repeating the revision of same content. However, you should follow a detailed plan with deadlines to avoid lethargy.
8. Set aside time to practice weak areas
You must dedicate an hour of your revision schedule daily to practice weak areas or unfamiliar questions. By practicing your weak areas more, you can build your confidence, and be prepared for the unexpected questions that may come up in the main exam.
You must de-stress yourself during your revision period. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will increase your concentration level and aid in your revision. You must practise exercises like breathing exercises and meditation techniques to enhance your focus. For calm mind you can listen and watch motivational talks and videos. Keep your distance from social media as a rule and try taking a 5 minute break after every 3 hours of study.
10. Eat well & give the eyes a rest
You must follow a healthy diet chart while studying. Stress levels are the highest during the last months of examinations. Eating healthy will make the mind alert and active, and increase your attention span. Adding protein to each meal like milk, sprouts, and grains etc. improves your ability to learn and concentrate, reduces brain fog, boosts your energy levels and support your muscles and bones tired after the long study and revision schedules. Avoid carbohydrate rich food like rice, potatoes, and bread etc. as they cause lethargy and drowsiness. As the exams approach, you might be super anxious but take a deep breath, relax and understand that the more you worry, the more it’ll affect your performance. Sleeping for 6-8 hours a day will keep your mind refreshed.
All these revision strategies will help only if your fundamentals are clear. Last minute revision will not help you much if you haven’t studied regularly and completed your entire syllabus atleast once. If you are still early in your preparation, make sure to imbibe expert preparation strategies in your comprehensive preparation plan. Another great way to hack preparation in the modern world is to use smartphones to your advantage and leverage great exam preparation apps to make learning effortless.
Hope this helps! Good luck for your exams.
Saloni Khandelwal is the Co-founder of Exambazaar (www.exambazaar.com). Exambazaar is revolutionising the Coaching Institute Discovery and Application Space, and is the complete guide for Competitive Exam Preparation in India. Saloni graduated from Computer Science, IIT Delhi in 2011 and thereafter worked in Investment Banking in Deutsche Bank, London for 5 years.