Survivor's guide to testing times

Last Updated 20 October 2010, 13:40 IST
Survivor's guide to testing times

When students opt for an engineering course of study after pre-university, they face many major changes. They move from an annual examination pattern to semester examinations; from study holidays to no study holidays; different methods of teaching; texts and reference books; from home stay to hostel stay; and from private tuitions to self study. All these factors have a bearing on their academic performance. They need to perform well in spite of these changes. A student with a high percentage in +2 (PUC) may score average marks in engineering while an average student in +2 may do very well.

In a semester scheme, students don’t get study holidays. For instance, if Saturday is the last working day of one semester, the practical examinations start from the following Monday. So, studying every day is the only solution.

In a semester, there are three internal tests for each subject with a gap of about one month between each phase of tests. If the student prepares well for the test, his/ her preparation for the examination is sure to be good.

Here are a few guidelines which students may find useful. Some of the rules mentioned in this feature pertain to the Visvesvaraya Technological University’s tests and examinations.

*Study every day and prepare your notes from the prescribed texts, reference books and class notes.

*Along with the detailed notes, prepare short notes for every topic in the prescribed subject.

a. Short notes should have key points and formulae/figures for the given topic.

b. The key points should help you recall the contents of the given topic.

c. You may require 10 sheets of paper to prepare short notes for a subject.

d. In order to remember certain sequences, spend some time abbreviating them with easy sentences or commonly used words. Just as how the word VIBGYOR helped you recall the colours of the rainbow way back in school, a simple sentence like ‘Home Work Ready For Inspection’ can help you recall the sequence in a microprocessor, which is ‘Halt, Write, Read, Fetch, Idle’.  

*Internal Tests

a. Prepare well and take all the three internal tests. Study the entire portions prescribed for the internal tests and the external examinations, in which case you can score 60-70 per cent with ease.

b. Each internal test is conducted for 25 marks in every theory subject. The average of your best scores in two tests will be your final (theory) internal marks.

c. External examination for a theory subject is conducted for 100 marks.  A student needs to score a minimum of 35 marks.

d. There are no minimum marks you need to score in the internal test for a theory subject. But to pass a theory subject the total score of the internal test marks and the external examination marks should be at least 50 out of 125 (100 external + 25 internal). For example: 50+00 (external + internal) is a Pass case, where as 30+24 (external + internal) is a Fail case, even though the total is 54. Similarly, 37+10 (external + internal) is a Fail case even though the external examination marks are more than 35.

e. For a practical lab subject, the final internal marks are awarded by evaluating your lab record for each experiment and by conducting a test. You have to score a minimum of 12 out of 25 marks. Otherwise, you are not allowed to take examination in that lab subject and you will have to repeat it in the subsequent semester.

f. Aim for a minimum of 80 per cent in the internal tests. A good score in the internal tests is sure to boost your final percentage. Usually, your internal test score is your performance index. Suppose you score less than 10 marks out of 25, you have to make sure that you score more than 15 in the next test.  

*Revision of topics is very important.

a. You might have prepared for a subject a few days before the test or examination, but revision always helps. It is very essential to refresh your memory on the day of examination. Use the Short Notes, that you prepared while studying, for revision.

*Relax before entering the examination hall. For instance, if your examination starts at 9.30 am, stop studying at 8.30 am.

a. Do not attempt to study/ revise till the very last minute. This is sure to cause stress.

b. Given proper relaxation time, your brain functions better.

*Use your study holidays smartly.

a. Suppose you have 12 days of preparation time before the examination, plan which subject to study first and for how many days.

b. Do not plan in a void. You should plan your time table with respect to the examination time table.   

In the exam hall

*Enter the examination hall at least 10 minutes before the commencement of the exam.

*Write your register number legibly on the answer book and fill in the relevant details.

*When the question paper is given to you:

a. Read all the questions calmly and carefully. Do not start answering the paper in a hurry.  

b. First, answer questions which you are sure about. This acts as a great confidence booster.

*Divide 3 hours of the paper intelligently.

a. If you are supposed to answer five full questions, you can allot 30 minutes to each, i.e., 150 minutes for 5 questions. You will then be left with 30 minutes.

b. Take 10 minutes to read the paper before you start answering it.

c. Use the remaining 20 minutes as buffer time — to answer lengthy questions and revise the answers.  

d. Keep track of time.

e. Suppose you fail to solve a problem in the time you had allotted to it, take another 5-6 minutes if you are sure that you are on the right track. Or else, leave sufficient space in your answer paper to complete the answer later and go on to the next question.

f. You may take an hour to answer a question/ solve a problem and you may find yourself fumbling along the way. This can cost you a precious 30 minutes, which you could have used to answer another question correctly.  

g. Use the buffer time to tackle incomplete answers.

h. Do not forget to revise your answers. You may find that you have committed  silly mistakes. Such errors can be corrected to fetch you maximum marks. Be careful with numerical values and calculations.

*Your sentences should not run into paragraphs. Use short, clear and simple sentences and bullet points. This helps the evaluator see the key points in your answer. It also shows clarity in your thinking process.

*Write the question number legibly in the left margin.

a. Some students have the habit of writing question No. 1 for the first question that they attempt and question No. 2 for the second question they answer, irrespective of the actual numbers on the question paper. Even though their answers are correct, they are sure to lose marks on account of faulty numbering of questions.

*Leave sufficient space between answers.

* After answering the paper and revising it, if you have still time left, you can attempt to answer the extra question(s).  Questions with the best scores are considered while awarding the final marks.

Practical exams

*You will be given an answer booklet, which contains questions on the experiment you are expected to conduct. If the questions are given to you on a sheet of paper, the same must be copied into the answer book.  

*Write your register number legibly on the answer book and fill up the relevant details.

*Read the questions carefully. You are expected to draw the necessary figure/circuit diagram, write out the design and procedure of conducting the experiments, and give the tabular column for observations, expected results/graphs, etc. All this has to be done in the first 30 minutes or whatever time limit the examiners indicate.

*The examiner checks the solution and allows you to conduct the experiment only if your solution is correct. You will have to return the main answer booklet after copying the given questions and figures/circuit diagram, design, etc., on a separate additional sheet before starting the experiment.  

*Do not forget to write your register number in all the additional sheets/graph sheets.

*The practical exam is normally conducted for 50 marks. To pass, you have to score a minimum of 40 per cent (20 marks). The total marks are normally divided into 3 parts for evaluation: Procedure — 25 per cent, Conducting the experiment — 50 per cent; Viva-Voce — 25 per cent.

*Prepare for all the experiments. In case you cannot conduct the given experiment, there is a provision to request for a change of experiment (only once). After receiving your written request in the booklet, the examiner will give you a new set of questions. But, there will be a deduction in your total marks.

*Viva-Voce questions will be on the theoretical background and practical approach of the experiments prescribed for the lab.

The author is Principal of JNN College of Engineering, Shimoga.

(Published 20 October 2010, 13:37 IST)

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