'Put exams in perspective'

Ask our counsellor

Dear Madam,

I have completed a diploma in Mechanical Engineering. I wanted to study further but gave up the dream as my family cannot afford it. My younger brother, who has secured a seat in an MBBS programme, is being sponsored by a guardian. I do not wish to burden him with my plans.  My parents are not keen on me working in a remote district either. Could you suggest a postgraduate course (evening college, preferably) that I could pursue?

Student
 
Dear Student,

I acknowledge your commitment to your family and guardian, and your need to stand on your own feet and not be a burden on them. It is selfless of you to give up  post-graduation so that your brother could study medicine. I am not in a position to tell you what course you should join, or what are the options available to you now. For that you will have to consult a career counsellor. However, it is probably feasible for you now to work and study side-by-side. You could look at evening/weekend/ or even correspondence options. That way, you will not have to be a burden on anyone. If your guardians fear you working far from home, it is best that you discuss this with them and set them to rest.

Communication is the only solution. So let them put their fears on the table, and you address them one by one. If they feel that you are confident of being able to conduct yourself capably in the workplace, they will be at ease about letting you go.

Dear Madam,       
         
I am a Class 9 student. I am not able to perform well in my exams because I forget all the answers as I do not know how to prepare well. I feel that I am not able to concentrate and focus while studying. Please help.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,


In order to get the most out of your study time, you must concentrate on what you are doing ‘in the moment’. The ability to concentrate is a skill that the mind can be trained to do. Concentration can make all the difference between your excelling, and not doing well. Some exercises to help you improve your concentration are:

*Count backwards in your mind from 100 to 1
*Count every third number backwards in your mind from 100 to 1
*Count the words in a paragraph of your book without using your finger as a pointer. Once this is easy, count the words on a page.
*Try repeating an inspiring word or a simple sound, in your mind for five minutes. Once these tasks become easy, try doing it for ten minutes.

These are just a few simple exercises which have been known to improve concentration. Try them for a few minutes every day and see if you experience a difference. Try focusing on learning and understanding what you are studying, rather than on mugging it.

Forgetting something is a problem only when you are trying to mug it up. If you understand what you are learning, the chances of forgetting are much less, because you have understood the concept.

If you are anxious or stressed about your marks, it will weigh you down, and you will not be able to concentrate while answering papers. This inability to concentrate on what you are doing may make you commit ‘silly mistakes’. So try changing your motivation to study — study hard to learn more, and not to get more marks. It is a subtle difference, but an important one. Remember, while you need to put in an honest effort in preparing for the exams, you should not be overly focussed on scores.

The other thing is to be able to put exams in perspective. While you are going through an exam, it may seem like your whole life depends on it. If you can look at your exams from a distance, you will realise that they are only one of the many things in your life and not your whole life. There are several challenges, failures and victories that you will face in life. This is only one of them. You need to be able to put them in perspective. What exams do is to open some doors for you. If you don’t do well in your exams, then those specific doors may not open, but others will — only you will have to look for them.

Success in life depends on several other factors like self-esteem, confidence, your ability to think creatively, learn, work independently, and in a team, communicate well, and empathise with people, to mention just a few.

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