Exam Tips: Last minute study hacks.

Last minute tips and tricks to ace exams.

It’s that time of the year again.

Last year I wrote a blog post on acing examinations which was not very specific but aimed solely on how to study. Today I am going to attempt to write and explain to you some of the last-minute exam tips and hacks I’ve learnt over the years and I’m still learning. Since most of you will be appearing for your University and Board examinations, I thought I’d help you ease off a little. And as I always say, do not let these marks define who you are.

  • LEARNING: Most of you might be at the revision stage right now (kudos to you, I have no idea how that feels) but I’m sure or I hope some of you still have to learn the subject material. So how do you do that when you’ve got revision to do?
  1.  You start by picking one topic a day and scheduling it with other topics you have to revise. Don’t learn every thing on the same day. If you’re short on time and studying one topic a day wont cut it then use what I call, “Divide and Conquer”. This means that you study a new topic in the morning and take up another new topic sometime in the evening/night. You revise your subject material in between the ‘learning’. This avoids cramming. Your brain needs time to process new information so be kind and revise instead of continuously hammering your brain to function.
  2. Before you start a chapter, go through the previous years question papers and see if the chapter is worth spending time on. Since time is paramount, you can’t waste it on a chapter that’s only going to amount to 2-3 marks. Don’t come at me, nerds, I know even 1 mark is extremely essential. But you’d rather lose 10 marks than 1, right? Prioritise what’s important. You’ll realize that you’ll be feeling less stressed and are able to study more. If you find some extra-time, go ahead and tackle the 2 mark chapter.
  3. DO NOT STUDY THE ENTIRE CHAPTER. When I gave my boards, I was of the opinion that I HAD to study everything. Every chapter has certain topics that are more important and always have a chance of being in the question paper. Focus more on them.  If you’re certain about a particular question, practice writing down the answers. You’ll be surpised how much time you save in the exam hall. Which brings me to my next point:
  4. Practice writing. I have always advocated using a pen and a paper while studying. Really, it works wonders. Keep making sub-points while you’re studying. Seeing answers written on paper have a higher chance of staying in your mind. I don’t know how it works but recalling answers become 10 times easier. Be creative, use diagrams, flowcharts, acronyms, anything that will help you retain information. You might feel you’re wasting time writing down answers but then when you sit down to revise, it’ll take you less time.(If you followed my advice of writing answers, you’ll already have a set of notes prepared. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? HA!
  5. Something I discovered this year was studying using Youtube. I gave my first year MA exams and was OBVIOUSLY behind schedule. Since I was required to read a lot of plays and novels and all that cool stuff, I realized watching videos on certain dramas helped. For instance, I read and watched, Dr.Faustus. I was not very sure of the context of the play and watching Youtube videos helped. Visual learners are in for a treat with this. I’m sure there are several videos on various subjects out there. Check out Salman Khan Academy, CrashCourses if you’re short on time and can’t find a quick fix.
  • ORGANIZE: I am still understanding what organization stands for. But I’ll try to break it down.
  1.     To-do-list: Make a list of the things you have to study for the day as soon as you wake up. This helps a lot. You kind of get an idea of where you stand and what you need to do. Also, ticking off things from the to-do-list is the single most best feeling in the world. Take it one day at a time. You have to try to stick to the list you’ve made if you want to avoid wasting time. BUT and there’s a big but, do not make a list that’s ambitious. I know you want to make the most of your day but always keep sometime for relaxation. Being well prepared is not directly proportional to 16 hours of studying. Even if you study for 4 hours with breaks in between, you’re doing fine.
  2. Test yourself. I think the best way to find out what you’ve learnt is to attempt question papers right after you finish a chapter. This works pretty well for me. You can dig up previous years’ question papers and see if you’ve understood the material. Again, this might not be the case for you. Maybe you’re better off answering questions after a revision. Great, do that.
  3. Study with a friend. I remember studying with my best friend for my 10th boards and during under-grad and we used to update each other on what we studied. Not only does it give you the encouragement you need, it also makes studying fun. And if you’re someone who is competitive, you’ll make sure you study way more than your friend does.
  4. Take regular breaks. Since you’re studying a few days before the exam, it might not be possible to take breaks often. What you can do is study for 2 hours and take a break for ten mins. No matter what you do, your brain needs time to process. Jumping on to different topics won’t help. I’d rather spend 10 mins watching cupcake videos then cram. (At least, I’ll learn something). I don’t think I need to say this but keep yourself hydrated at all times. Keep snacks and drinks at your disposal to avoid wasting time.
  5. If you’ve been trying really hard to study and are not able to focus at all, leave it for the time being. Just go for a walk or listen to music and come back to it. Forcing yourself is never going to work. If you find yourself still struggling, move on to the next chapter or a different subject. Tackle it again the next day or after a day or two. Sometimes you have to take a detour to find yourself home. *mic drop*
  • FOCUS ON YOUR WEAKNESS:  We all have THAT one subject that makes our insides curl and gives us nightmares. For me it was maths. I HATED IT. I no longer have to study numbers( Thank heavens for that) but I still get jittery when I think about it. Try to devote each day on such a topic. I know it’s hard but that’s the only way you’ll be able to score well. If it’s maths for you, then practice maths more than you would normally do. If it’s history or geography, study half a chapter or a full chapter everyday. The idea is to stay in touch with the subject so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming a day before the exam. If you score very well in all other subjects but don’t score well in one subject, your total goes down drastically. That’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
  • STOP COMPARING:  I cannot stress how important it is to realize who you are and what your battles are. Your dreams are different from your friends. You’re not the same. Don’t get bogged down by what your friend is accomplishing or plans on doing. It’s easy to feel lost but losing yourself in the process sucks more. Just do your thing.

Please remember, these exams don’t carve out a future plan for you. Sure, it helps you get into a good college et cetera but they’re not everything. Don’t burden yourself with what others expect of you. Focus on what you want the most and never compromise on your mental state over something as trivial as exams. I say this from experience. Most of the things you’re worrying about won’t even matter in the future. Give your 100%. That’s all.

The above tips are very subjective. One formula does not work for everyone. I hope It was of some use to you. Do you have a study hack I could use? Let me know!

 

Review: Selfienomics

A seriously funny guide to living the good life.

Author: Revant

Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Genre: Self-help

Pages: 191

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

 

What happens when you read a book that is bombarded with memes, hashtags, open dialogues, hard-hitting questions and a desire to perceive the world around you differently? You become enlightened. #Nirvana

One of my reading goals this year was to read self-help books because my life has a tendency to spiral around I decided to rely on people to do that for me. Well, jokes apart, it is a decision that I plan on implementing. I started this road to self-discovery with Selfienomics, a debut novel, by Revant which

a.) Is extremely funny. You know the kind of funny which makes you pause and laugh like a retarded seal?  No? Okay.

b.) Is informative and very well researched. Ofcourse, self-help books are supposed to be researched blah blah. It is well researched in the sense that it is relatable to everyone especially the current scenario of Indians and India.

c.) You get to make a choice. Revant didn’t shove his opinion down our throats instead he paved the way for open-end discussions where you are the sailor and you get to decide the direction. No judgement there.

Selfienomics talks about life in general. Food, Feminism, Politics, Religion and how to read the label off of a food item before buying. Reading the book made me realise that there are a lot of things i’m ignorant about or I consider it extremely trivial for an intellect like me to dwell upon. I was wrong. I think that’s what reading good books are like; you begin to develop the ‘why syndrome’. Why does something happen the way it does? Why are people so stupid? Why am I such an idiot? You get the drill. For a debut novel, Revant has managed to bring burning issues under one umbrella and has successfully tackled them in a delightful manner. I’m going to cite some of my favourite examples since listing all of them is not possible:

Since I have been in the process of job hunting and trying to make a career the idea of Personal Branding stuck to me.

There exists a chicken and egg problem today in relation to jobs and experience. You need a job to get experience, and you need experience to get a job. Don’t let lack of experience deter you from pursuing your interest. No one is born with experience. While experience may often be irrelevant and specific to an industry, your personal brand is relevant across all sectors. When your personal brand is of an individual who is honest and gives his or her best, opportunities are sure to open up. Focus on building your #PersonalBrand and experience will follow.

While we’re on the topic of doing something in life, I can’t help but mention the author’s advice on categorising our goals. Career goals, Moral goals, Bucket Lists, Financial Goals etc. Not only does it help us realise what we truly want but also helps in overcoming the identity crisis that is prevalent with the youth of today. By prioritising, we can be more productive and work towards our dreams.

If you aren’t able to fulfil your own dreams, make it your dream to fulfil the dreams of others.

Speaking of serious issues like Feminism, Patriotism, and birth control, the author tries to portray the harsh reality, the pros and cons of our current situation citing examples and showing where we as a nation stand.

It’s commendable how the author was able to merge concepts of economics and the business world with real life situations. All in all, Selfienomics delivers more than it promised and is a smart attempt at creating a world that is educated and accepting of each other’s differences.

Aim for an open discussion–which encourages criticism as well as allows mistakes.

 

Tips to beat EXAM anxiety

Exam anxiety is a universal problem faced by every student before every exam ever. It’s not a very good feeling and one would want to avoid feeling anxious especially before an important exam.

“Before starting my math exam, I was so consumed by anxiety that I couldn’t even remember what date it was.” –Me during my 12th board exam.

You’re prepared for your final term. You studied everything you possibly could, you didn’t leave out any chapter and you’re thorough with each probable question. But then these little monsters called Anxiety start creeping in and you find your confidence hitting an all time low. You feel butterflies in your stomach or rather the entire zoo, your palms get sweaty, you feel nauseous or worst case scenario pukish. Exam anxiety is a universal problem faced by every student before every exam ever. It’s not a very good feeling and one would want to avoid feeling anxious especially before an important exam. The fear of making mistakes, forgetting formulas, not being able to complete the paper are all too common. It happens to the best of us.

A study suggests that people who are highly anxious tend to perform worse even though they’re well prepared. The good news is you can very well fight anxiety. It’s curable to say the least.

Below are a few tips that might come in handy next time you take an exam:

  • Sleep, Sleep, Sleep: A well rested brain is able to function better. The whole idea of pulling an all nighter does no justice to your mind and body. Never compromise your sleep especially before an exam. You’d rather remember what you’ve learnt instead of staying up late and cramming your brain with information you will most likely forget. A good 6 hours sleep is a must.
  • Breakfast: I cannot stress how important it is to have proper, healthy breakfast before you leave for school/college. Get up early walk around  a little and treat yourself with food that is rich in fibre and carbohydrate. This gives the body the energy it requires. Losing out on energy leads to lower concentration levels which means you might start to panic and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid, right? Go eat that apple.
  • Don’t discuss: I remember studying every chapter before my geography exam and the morning before the paper, I started discussing it with a friend. My confidence which was high at that point of time was ruthlessly shattered in a few minutes because I wasn’t able to recall the answers to some of the questions asked by my friend. Note that it wasn’t because I didn’t remember but because  I got too overwhelmed which led to delay in recall. This lead to even more anxiety. Moral of the story is there is no need to discuss anything when you reach school/college unless there’s something important. Keep to yourself and try to take deep breaths and relax.
  • Revising: The most common mistake I made and I observe most students make is trying to revise everything the morning before the exam. It is a very daunting task, takes a lot of time and is intimidating. Failure to cover all chapters leaves you with a sinking feeling thereby leading to doubt and worry. Instead while you’re studying( a day or week before the said paper) make notes of all the important points. Just a brief summary of the chapter in your own words. This method has two advantages, a.) It helps in easy memorization, b.) You have your own notes prepared and it’s a lot easier to go through them by just looking at the points.
  • Be prepared: Here I am talking about being well equipped with the stationary you will require during the exam. You wouldn’t want  be to panic because you don’t have a pen that works. It will not only cause more anxiety and stress but you will lose out on a lot of time.Always keep an extra pair, just to be sure. Bonus points if you keep everything ready the night before. This avoids unnecessary stress in the morning.  It is also very important to reach your school/college early. For those who have different study centres, it is imperative that you take a field trip to figure out where your classroom is. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the classroom setting and your brain will be well rested.
  • Set realistic goals: While it is important to set high expectations of yourself , it is equally important to be realistic about it. This doesn’t mean you should not expect a good score but that things might not always go your way. Building castles in the air seldom takes you anywhere. You cannot expect 100% result every time. All that matters is that you gave your best shot. Don’t think about getting a 98 or 100 but about doing better than what you did. Remember, one test won’t alter your life. By having a clear mindset, you will be able to study better.

 

Some other tips you should remember:

  • Write down your anxieties. Studies have shown that those who write down their insecurities performed better than those who didn’t. For every negative trait, write a positive one.
  • Listen to music that is soothing and calming. You can do this while you’re on your way to school/college. Music always makes me relax. Keep reading the notes you’ve prepared while simultaneously listening to soft music. It really helps.
  • While in the middle of writing the exam, attempt questions you’re most confident about. This gives you the boost that you need. Then proceed towards questions that you find hard or tricky. Also, since you don’t have forever to complete the paper, don’t waste too much time on one question.
  • Avoid getting distracted by the person sitting next to you who is writing ten times as fast as you are and who just asked for another sheet of paper. It’s okay. Maybe she has a train to catch, you never know. Concentrate on your work.
  • Take breaks if you get too worked up. Close your eyes and try to calm down.  Think about things that help you relax. Think about your pet waiting for you at home, or think about how much you’re going to sleep once you reach home. Learn to de-stress.
  • Give your best. Don’t let anxiety take all the credit.

 

Do you have any tips to beat anxiety? Comment below!