Preparing for the mid-term exam

Come September, most students are racking their brains preparing for the mid-term examinations.

Many do not know where to start, some lost somewhere in the middle and others still struggling to focus and prepare.

Preparing for the exams is no Herculean task if you use the tips outlined here. We need to understand our learning styles and adopt steps that work for us. We are all unique and so are our learning styles. A bit of modification in the methods of learning can help you achieve your targets. And if you have a study holiday, you could make the most of it with a little bit of hard work.

‘No’ last minute preparations

Never ever make last minute preparations. Never cram all of your studying into one day ahead of the examination. Internalise information that you are getting in class during revision sessions. Spend at least 2-3 hours a day studying. Remember, the ability to focus and process information decreases if your work sessions are longer. Split your study time into 30- 40 minute sessions and spread them throughout the day. Take breaks intermittently.
 Be attentive

Listen to what the teacher says about the material that will be on the exam. Listening helps you understand how your teacher expects you to answer questions. Your teacher may give subtle hints like, “This is important from the exam point of view,” or “You should make a note of this” etc. Stay away from friends who can distract you or let them know that you are working for better grades. If there are personal issues, resolve them after class. This will help you stay focused.

Note-taking

It is impossible for a teacher to make a lesson suit everyone’s learning style as everyone has his or her own way of learning. Hence it is imperative to take notes that make sense to you. It is fine if you can make silly drawings, flow charts, Venn diagrams etc. to remember key points. 

While taking notes, be sure to write down a few details. Else, note down the general idea with a footnote mentioning the page number in the text book or any other book that can be referred to. If you find a missing link in the notes you have taken, call up a friend or your teacher and fill in the missing information. 

Prepare a ‘cheat sheet’ or a quick reference sheet with abbreviations while you study. This mind-mapping technique is of great help for visually creative students. Abbreviated version of these important notes can be visualized during exams. 

Review your homework

Homework and assignments might have been difficult and boring but it is important to look over them once again while preparing for the exams. Look at the assignments that received bad remarks and questions you got wrong. Rewrite them and ask your teacher to evaluate them for you. This way, you will be able to correct your mistakes and avoid repetition of the same mistakes.

Study the elements

No matter how good a writer you are, language demands specific writing techniques. Poetry units require imagery and essays elaboration. Study and practice are a must to master writing techniques. 

For the essay, these elements are what your teacher will check for:  

n The introductory paragraph    n Body paragraphs (at least three)n Summary or conclusion

Stick to this pre-set format to gain marks in case you do not have points for an argumentative essay. Read a few essays to get an idea of writing techniques.

Practise writing

Once you get an idea of what you need to study, practise writing. Reading the newspaper can be inspiring. For your writing activity, choose debatable issues that can be topics for essays. For example: The literacy scenario in India, rising prices, prohibition, scams and scandals, etc. Writing can also help you fill free time which you get in between your study sessions. 

Write a letter to an imaginary friend, a story with a few characters, make diary entries of what you’ve studied and how you feel about it, make up a rap about things you find in your grammar book or topics or pen a poem about your pet or a favourite animal. Make your own test papers and write answers.

Eat well

Never skip meals while preparing for exams or during exams. Remember, food is fuel for the brain. Eat good meals and remember to carry a snack always. Without a balanced diet, you may become unfocussed, distracted and forgetful. If you have missed meals during preparation, you may feel dizzy or even pass out. Do not skip breakfast on the day of your exam for want of time. Pack your bag the previous night.

Positivity

Have a positive frame of mind as you prepare for your exams. Set the mood to write and write well. Make sure you arrive at class at least half an hour before the exam. Do not show up for the exam panting. Being late could hamper your ability to focus and increase stress levels as well. 

While preparing for the examinations relax your body and mind with light exercise and music. Listen to your favourite stotra or song before you leave for your exam. Just clear your mind and enjoy the melody. Meditating is another way to keep away stress. Go through the question paper. As you work through the exam, you could take a couple of minutes to meditate and regroup your thoughts. Take a deep breath, stretch, review what you have written and start writing again. 

Read questions

Make sure you read all the questions carefully. Do it twice if required. This will help you understand the questions and what type of answers they demand. Do not say things like, ‘teachers make up questions to trick us.’ They are only trying to understand how attentive you have been in class. Some questions may have secondary questions. 

Try rephrasing questions that seem tricky and you will be able to write answers for them. During the exam, stay relaxed for you have spent time studying and preparing. You are aware of your strengths, put them to use. Stay positive and you will surely ace the exam.

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