Exams are particularly stressful events. During the final hours leading up to the day of exam, you panic a lot and often get confused with the lessons you have studied. You feel completely lost. You keep studying through the late night but nothing seems to get into your head. You feel sleepy but you can’t fall asleep. It’s such a painful situation. The next morning you wake up with swollen eyes due to the lack of sleep and after trying to memorize a few things from the book, you drowsily head to the exam hall. In the hall, you are not in a position to think actively and creatively. You feel tired and when the question-paper lands before you, everything goes blank. You know that you are now doomed.
To avoid such a situation, you must start studying well ahead of the day of exams. In fact, it would be best if you could revisit what has been taught daily and maintain proper notes for quick reference in the future. When I was a student, I used to recollect all the lessons I was taught during the day before I went to sleep and that helped me remember the key lessons taught everyday.
It won’t be hard if you can make it a habit. It is usually recommended that whatever we have to study must be studied days before the exams and during the final days, we should just relax so that our brain can rejuvenate and re-activate our memories.
Burning midnight oil just before the exams won’t be helpful. But even if you have studied everything in advance, the most important work is yet to be done.
So whether or not you have studied well, the following basic tips might help you maximize your exam performance on the day of exam.
Before the exam
On the day of exam, get up early so that you will have ample time to prepare yourself for the big day. Just relax and refresh your mind. You should have got at least 7 hours of good sleep so that you would be able to remain energetic throughout the exam hours. Remember and pack up all the things you would need for the exam: pencil, pen, ruler, calculator, eraser, etc. Make sure you know exactly where will be the exam venue and the timing of the exam. Have a balanced breakfast. Please avoid spicy foods on this day because any gastro-intestinal discomfort you experience will affect your performance in the exam hall. Start early from home so that you would enough time for any unexpected event on the way: traffic jams, accidents, etc. Once you are in the school, continue to relax. Stay away from panicky friends because that won’t do any good. Finally before you walk into the exam hall, do not forget to go to toilet because once you are in the hall, you have no time to waste. Every minute is precious.
Inside the exam hall
Once you are in the exam hall, take some deep breaths. When you receive the question-paper, take it easy. The first 15 minutes or so would be allocated for just reading the questions. Make full use of this time, going through the questions and planning how much time to allocate to each question according to the allocated marks. This is the time when you have to look for grammatical errors, typos and seek clarifications if you have doubts. This will save a lot of time later. When I was in Muenselling Institute in Khaling, my Principal always used to tell us that reading questions is in fact more important than writing answers because if you can’t understand the question properly, you won’t get the answer right even if you had known it.
Effective time management is another important skill that can maximize exam performance. Many people fail to finish writing their answers on time and this causes them to lose marks even if the questions are familiar. So the total duration of the exam should be divided among the sections and questions according to the allocated marks and once you have done it, you should not spend more than the allocated time on a particular section or question. Otherwise, you may not get time to answer other questions. It is not necessary to answer all the questions in sequence. You can attempt the easier questions first and leave the harder ones to the end. This can save a significant amount of time.
If you are writing English or Dzongkha papers, the comprehension section will be the most difficult part of the question-paper, not because the passages are tough but because they are too long. In such a case, the follow-up questions must be read before actually reading the passage. If you read the passage first, you won’t be able to remember anything when you see the questions that follow. You have to revisit the passage all over again. But if you read the follow-up questions first, you might be able to recognize the answers to the questions while going through the passage. This will also save a lot of time.
Finally, please do not forget to review your answer-sheet if you have some time left at the end of the exam. Do not get excited to get out of the hall. You should make sure that you have answered all the questions and provided all the personal details such as your name and registration or roll number. If you realize the need to add or remove any information, this is the time you should do it. When you submit your answer-paper to the invigilator and walk out of the hall, you should feel satisfied that you have given your best. You should not discuss the questions with your friends after the exam. That can spoil your mood to study for the next paper if you realize you have made some mistakes. No matter what, always stay positive.
By Amrith Bdr Subba
The writer is a visually challenged counselor at the Youth Center Division, Dept. of Youth and Sports under Ministry of Education.