Monday, 8 February 2016

How to succeed in exams?

I have been receiving many requests to address various topics from the students on my Facebook page ‘Student’s Support Hub’. One of the most common requests I have received so far is ‘How to succeed in exams?’

We must understand one thing; there is no shortcut to your success in exams. Your success lies in the approach you take towards the exam preparation.

Here are few tips to manage your approach.

Never leave it till the last minute - Imagine your teacher/professor rushes through your entire year’s syllabus on the last two days before exam. Do you think you will be able to make any sense out of what has been taught in those two days? Certainly not! Just as a teacher/professor needs good few months to teach you the entire syllabus so do you need good few months to prepare for your final exams. Therefore, start in small increments and keep up the pace.

Have a checklist - Sort out your entire syllabus into a meaningful checklist. As you go along, tick those topics that you have finished studying and plan your approach towards those topics that you have not yet completed.

From the checklist, draw a list of what you already know, what you need to know (e.g. diagrams, formulae, case studies etc.). Having such a list will help you focus better.

Do not memorise answers - It is hard to remember information especially if you do not understand it. If you want to make sense out of the information in your textbook then understand the concept behind the information.

When you take notes, try to use your own words rather than just copying the key points.
Explain the topic you have learnt to your friend/family members in your own words. This will help your brain to retain what you have understood and learnt for a longer time.

Learn to give structure to the notes you have made. It can be either diagrammatic or can contain hierarchy.

Rest your brain - If you keep dumping information to your brain 24x7, the poor little brain will be drained. Do your favourite activity for a while as your brain takes time to recover and process the information you have fed to it.

Do not try to focus on one subject for too long. Switch subjects on regular intervals so you can start fresh and retain the information
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Reward yourself - As part of your revision plan, reward yourself as and when you achieve your key targets to keep yourself motivated.

Put your smart phones/tabs away - The greatest distraction students have these days is their own smartphones and tabs. Lock them away for couple of hours during your study time. Stay away from the social media for few hours.

Unless you learn to overcome these addictions you will only be sat with your textbooks open and not learn anything.

Study in small groups - If you and your friends can focus on studies when you meet at one place then try group study. If not, avoid it. You will be simply wasting yours and your friends’ time in the name of group study.

Study loud - If you prefer, lock yourself in a quiet room and read out loud rather than silently running through the lines of your textbook.

Time it right - Find out what time of the day you are productive - early mornings or late nights? Study at the time when you find yourself most productive.

If you have longer topics, spread it over longer duration than rushing to finish it all in one go.

Plan your breaks during your study hours and ensure you do not run over your break times
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Eat healthy and sleep well - Maintain a healthy diet and a regular sleep pattern. This will help you maintain your energy levels and concentration. It is also good to exercise to keep stress away and to keep your mind clear.

Avoid last minute panic - On the day of exam avoid worrying about the topics you assume you do not know. Do not discuss about it in the corridor leading to your exam hall. Have the discussions few days before the final exams so it gives you enough time to prepare.

Last but not the least, make a note of all questions you have while studying and ask your teachers/professors the next day. Always remember that there is nothing called ‘stupid question’ when it comes to learning.