Career Counselling Advice

How to Prepare For and Face Final Exams?
Parents, a few tips for you too!

Why Should We Study?

Exams look very horrifying and scary (both for the student and the student's parent), but they are actually preparing you and sharpening you for all the different types of exams you will be facing later in life. The more you learn to master tests and exams, the more you will enjoy the challenges of life.

Here are a few practical tips on how to prepare well for the exams, and not allow the tension to pull you down

    preparing for exams
    Image Credit: laura00, sxc.hu
  1. Keep track of the likely exam dates and mentally become comfortable with the idea of facing them, long before the dates finally arrive.
  2. Keep giving yourself mock exams periodically so that it becomes a habit. When the school or college gives your Preparatory or Preliums, take them seriously, not only in terms of how many marks you can score in them, but also the time you take to complete the answers. Time management is a very integral and important part of preparing for exams.
  3. Check out where you have lost marks in the preparatory exams, and why. See if your handwriting is legible and clear
  4. Keep marking off the portions you have already studied and are ready to answer in the exam (like in the Mind Mapping explained earlier). This will give you the confidence that you are covering more and more ground.
  5. A simple rule that you know very well, but often forget to practice, is to space out your studies through the year, instead of waiting to cram up on the last few days. This by itself is the greatest insulation against exam tension.
  6. As the exam date approaches, do not give up your extra-curricular activities completely – just keep reducing them. Taking breaks from studies and doing activities that you enjoy, reinforces your will to get back to the challenge.
  7. Students writing final exams
    Image Credit: ccarlstead, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
  8. Make sure that your physical activity does not come to a stop. Brisk walk, jogging, quick exercises, yoga and pranayamas, choose whatever suits you most. Don’t think of this as time lost from studies, because they will improve your intake when you get back to study, and reduce your stress levels to help you face exams better.
  9. Reduce your sleep hours slightly, but never drastically. Also, do not change your sleep timing significantly, because your body clock has got used to a particular time of sleep. Reducing sleep time in a 24 hour cycle by about 20-25% should be the maximum. If you reduce your sleep further, it will have an adverse effect.
  10. Strictly maintain food habits. Never postpone breakfast, lunch or dinner just because you are deeply involved in studies. Take food breaks at the right time, have the right quantity of food, avoid snacking with junk food, and try to supplement with nutrients like milk, fruit juices etc.
  11. As far as possible avoid tea and coffee. If you are already used to it, make sure your intake does not increase as the exams draw closer, and particularly avoid them near your sleep time.
  12. Student studying for his final exam
    Image Credit: Gnarlycraig, wikimedia
  13. Don’t neglect your personal hygiene. Bath on time, fresh set of clothes, periodically washing your face, help not just your body but also your mind.
  14. If you feel the tension of the exam creeping up on you as the dates approach, keep talking to one or two trusted persons (preferably elders) about how you feel, what your symptoms are, what you fear is the worst that can happen, and how you are coping with it. Writing a diary also helps some of us.
  15. As the exam date approaches, go into the mode of survey and revision rather than reading a few chapters in detail. If you find particular chapters or topics have just not got into your head, trying to mug them up at the last moment never helps. See if you can strengthen the other chapters sufficiently to compensate for the marks you will lose.

What do you do on the day of your exam?

    Tips for parents whose children are writing final exams
    Image Credit: Konstantinos Mavroudis, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com
  • Don’t stay awake the previous night. Give yourself sufficient sleep
  • Go through the morning routine of bath, dressing up well, and having a reasonably leisurely breakfast. Don’t skip any of your usual activities.
  • If prayer or meditation helps you, put aside some time and do so.
  • Check all your belongings, pens, ID card etc., and put them away in a firmly closed bag. See that you have the Hall Ticket, instrument box, spare pen, and whatever else is required for the exam.
  • Reach the venue of the exam well in advance. Don’t try to keep reading when you are traveling. Enjoy the fresh air or the passing view, and keep your mind away from the exam.
  • student
    Image Credit: subin, sxc.hu
  • On reaching the exam site, run through a quick revision of the main topics or the Mind Map. Don’t try to do detailed reading.
  • Avoid speaking to friends about the exam. A chance remark from a classmate about some likely question or particular portion may send you into a panic.
  • Do some deep breathing, sip water.
  • student drinking
    Image Credit: stuartpilbrow, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com
  • When you get the question paper, read it carefully and slowly (if necessary, more than once), and make out a time schedule. Attempt easy questions first, but see that you don’t get carried away writing too long.
  • Keep track of the time. Finish writing a few minutes before the final bell, and run through what you have written. You may find a crucial point missing here and there, and you can add it.
  • Come out of the examination hall, and do not discuss answers with your friends particularly if you have other exams to go in the remaining days. Take a short break, get some fresh air or entertainment, and then get down to studying for the next subject.

Parents: Examination fever hits parents as much as it hits students. Dear parents, here are some coolants:

  1. YOUR OWN ANXIETY shows on your face, even if you do not express it, and the child gets more scared, disturbed and even guilty. Relax, show your confidence in him.
  2. BALANCE EXPECTATIONS AND MOTIVATION : Sensitive children are almost always aware of their insecurities in facing board exams. Do not aggravate these feelings. Be specially careful with a high performing child, because he is made to feel very anxious whether he can live up to the expecta­tions of his parents and teachers.
  3. parent.student
    Image Credit: Jose Kevo, cc-by-sa-2, flickr.com
  4. BREATHING SPACE : Encourage physical and recreational activity interspersed with studies. Help him develop study techniques, proper habits and a structured time schedule.
  5. PROVIDE SILENT EMOTIONAL SUPPORT : Repetitive reading of "boring" topics does not help comprehension or recall. Repeated verbal reminders and questioning only lead to more anxieties or fear. Develop confidence level with the message "I know you can do it".
  6. NEVER COMPARE with siblings or others (definitely not with "When I was your age"). Give the message "I understand what you are going through".
  7. PROVIDE PROPER ENVIRONMENT : A quiet space, free from disturbances and environmental distractions, taking care of his basic needs, and removing any other anxieties which may be bothering him at that time. The parents' physical presence, a pat or hug, or a walk with him, is impor­tant.

FOR THE COOLANT TO BE REALLY EFFECTIVE, tell him that regardless of how he performs in the exams, he is still your child and your love for him is unconditional.

By Ali Khwaja


 

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