Towards a balanced exam preparation

Towards a balanced exam preparation

A precise study schedule and an unrelenting focus alone will accomplish the task of performing well both in school exams and entrance tests, writes Aakash Chaudhry.

Gone are the days when a child was told to enjoy school life as much as possible since his/her days after school will be fraught with stress and tension. Now, the last few years of school can go a long way in determining the course of one’s future and therefore students have to learn the art of multi-tasking at an early stage. The more ambitious of students choose to lose no time, and work on their competitive exam entrances along with doing well in the school semester and terminal exams. Managing both well, and not one at the cost of the other, is essential. All the top engineering and medical institutes in the country take into consideration the performance in the board exams. Also, these exam results stay on the students’ CV for life and therefore the semester exams that prepare one ultimately for the boards cannot be ignored at any cost. 

While doing justice to both the school exams and preparation for entrances may be difficult, it is possible. With good time management, systematic approach, and perfect grasp of the essential skill of multi-tasking, a student can do well in both.
Mastering the concepts

The first task one has to undertake is to make a comprehensive list of all the topics covered in the school and those that will come in the competitive exams. On doing so, one will realise that most of the syllabi for both sets of examinations, overlap. The only difference is that questions which appear in the semester exams are more theoretical in nature, while those that will appear in the entrances will be more conceptual. Since the broad topics are the same, the best approach is to understand and master the concepts and fundamentals properly. Once this is achieved, any application-based problem or any theoretical question can be solved and answered with equal ease.

Confronting the challenge

The syllabus of just the school exams is vast enough. Add the extra application-based concepts and other topics for the competitive exams to this and the student is faced with a humongous ocean of concepts and theories to study. Looking at this daunting amount of ground to be covered can be truly intimidating. The key to confront this challenge is to plan for shorter periods of time. Set yourself challenges on a weekly basis and monitor your performance closely. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and allow you to gradually cut down the syllabus to deal with.

Sectional tests

At the end of each week, do sectional tests that will help you assess your learning and identify your weaknesses. It is imperative for you to know where your weaknesses and strengths lie. Using this knowledge, you must then work ardently upon improving your weaknesses and focus on sharpening your strengths.   

Clarifying the fundamentals

Another important advice for students is not to clutter their tables with all sorts of books and reference material. The first and foremost goal should be to finish the material in the NCERT books as these include all the theory that is needed. You can refer to one or two guidebooks for numerical problems or question banks. Basically, your first target should be to clarify each and every fundamental concept. If you are unclear about any subject or topic, do not hesitate to ask your teachers or mentors. There is no shame in asking again and again. But not asking will lead to a lot of regret.

Exam tips

Here are a few tips one can employ at the time of examinations in order to make your preparation yield the desired results;

*  To score well in any theory-based exam, presentation, hand-writing, neatness are all very essential and go a long way in getting you a good result.

*  In the Mathematics paper, a lot of weightage is given to clearly spelling out all the formulae and concepts used. Each step employed must be written systematically and all the theorems used for each step need to be explicitly mentioned.

*  Most students have a phobia of Physics. This mental block causes more problems than the subject itself.  The subject is actually very manageable as it is based on concepts that need to be comprehended rather than theory that needs to be crammed by rote. Once the fundamentals are understood, it is smooth sailing from there. Mechanics and Electrodynamics are the backbone of Physics in any of the entrance examinations. So give maximum time to these two units.

*  While attempting any paper, first do the topics that you are strongest with.
Maintaining the resilience

Besides these basic tips, the most important thing while preparing for exams is to keep the peace of mind and have faith in oneself. There is no need to panic. Ensure that you take out adequate time to do things you love - be it sleeping, eating, going for walks, reading or watching movies. Sleeping for adequate periods of time is essential. Do yoga or some other light exercise regularly to keep the body and mind alert.

The important thing to remind yourself is that both your semester exams and entrance tests are of equal importance. You need to devote an equal amount of time, effort and preparation to both, while at the same time not allowing yourself to get overwhelmed with the juggling. A precise study schedule and an unrelenting focus make this goal achievable.  Remember that every year many students do well in school exams and ultimately ace the entrances, and so you can!

(The writer is the director of an educational service.)

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