Exam strategies, your way to a comfortable A

Exams: a dreaded word amongst kids and adults alike. No one likes having to give up precious hours of their day to memorize a bunch of words or study page upon page of incomprehensible equations, especially when you know that you’ll forget everything you learned just a few weeks after you take the test. Nor do we like the feeling of crippling anxiety that comes when we make our death march on cold feet towards the examination centre. Like them or not, they must be done. Yet fortunately there are a number of things we can do to make studying for an upcoming exam much less difficult, and, God forbid, maybe even a little more enjoyable! Follow these guidelines and you’ll be saying hello to a pass in no time!
  • First step: Organization!! Even if you’re a 45-year-old sitting for a high school math exam, never underestimate the power of time and space management. Ensure that you have your own study area free of distractions (including noise, T.V. and other people). Organize your study material into folders.
  • Keep an allotted time to study, but take breaks in between to avoid boredom and fatigue. Find a time that you’re free and untroubled (early mornings or evenings often work well, but make sure you get enough sleep).
  • Different subjects have different requirements. For a history exam, you would probably have to write a bunch of detailed essays, whereas for an aptitude test you may have to answer a sheaf of multiple choice questions. In all cases, practice makes perfect. Past papers will let you get a feel for the actual exam and will help you manage your time during the real thing.
  • When studying a topic, begin by learning the basic concepts before getting to the intricate details.
  • If you don’t understand any of the ideas, ask for help, as advice from teachers and other knowing individuals can be indispensable for students with questions. Also make sure to use any resources available through libraries, news or online. For example, for an accountancy exam, you might find exam reviews to be particularly helpful (eg: CPA exam reviews for the CPA examination).
  • Using the look, cover, write, check method may help you memorize essential phrases and similar points. First study it, look away and rewrite it and then check whether your answer is correct. Simple but effective.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep and you eat healthy to keep yourself energized. Also remember to stay active by spending some time to exercise and get some fresh air, as this always helps rejuvenate your body and mind, thus improving your concentration.
In addition, it’s important that you prepare properly before the exam and manage your time during it.
  • However much you don’t think you need it, try to go to the final few classes before the exam, as you can pick up a load of useful information from your professor about the nature of the exam.
  • On the day before the exam don’t try and study specific things but go through a summary of the key points. Try to relax and do something entertaining for a while to soothe your nerves.
  • Don’t cram or stay up the night before the exam. This will sap your energy and leave you tired and unfocused in the morning.
  • Make sure that you have everything you need before you leave the house, including stationery and any identification material or registration sheets.
  • Get to the examination centre about 15 minutes it begins to calm down and get your bearings before you enter the room.
  • Always read the instructions on the cover of the exam sheet, or listen carefully if they are recited out loud.
  • Ask the invigilator for clarification on any unclear points about the exam or the paper (this does not include queries such as “What’s the answer to 1(b)?”).
  • Read the questions carefully and underline any useful or important points. Write notes in the margins if this will help.
  • Always keep track of the time you have left.
  • If you’re stuck on a question, skip it for the time being and come back to it later.