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How to do well in exams ?

Taking exams seems to be a constant theme in your life as a student. Few students enjoy them, but almost all recognize their importance. Exam scores are essential for admission to higher institutions, to scholarship and job applications and probably more importantly, to your confidence and esteem as you constantly interact with your peers where comparison of scores is an unavoidable topic of conversation. Since exams are so important in various aspects, it is going to serve you well if you can master some techniques of excelling the exams. Right techniques, some of which introduced below, can effectively reduce the amount of workload needed to achieve desirable results.

First, understand your notes. It may sound cliche, but from our observation, too many students are just reading, or even worse, scanning through the notes without understanding them. That way of revision gives an illusion of hard work,

How to do well in exams ?

How to do well in exams ?

and a sense of frustration when their ‘hard work’ does not pay off when results do not meet their expectation. Understanding notes involves active engagement with the concepts. To help you engage with the learning, you may want to always hold a pen or a highlighter in hand while studying, even you do not foresee any occasion of using it before you start. In fact, you will almost always have the chance to use it, because active learning involves note-taking, underlining and highlighting. Holding a pen in hand gets you mentally prepared. It also helps you note down confusions that you can clarify later. Without a pen readily in your hand, you may choose not to write down a doubt and forget to ask afterwards, only to see it reappear in the exam.

Besides understanding notes, doing practices is equally important. While practices should be done after you have understood the notes, you should not take it as an excuse to procrastinate revision until you only have the time to go through notes without doing adequate exercises. Plan your timetable well so that you will have ample time to do practices. Past-year papers are good sources of question banks, as you can benchmark yourself with previous tests that aren’t varying too much in difficulty. Once you realize you have difficulty completing the past-year papers, that is a good sign of warning that you should put in more work in revision. And don’t aim for perfection when doing practice papers. They are occasions for you to make mistakes and discover misunderstanding so that you will not repeat them in the actual exam where you should aim for perfection as much as possible.

Thirdly, as much as exams being a mental challenge, they are also a physical challenge. How well your brain performs critically depends on how your body performs, not on how much knowledge you have put into your brain. Hence, do keep a healthy lifestyle during the revision period. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and sleep early. If you really need to stay up late for a few nights, do so during the early period of revision and return to disciplined timetable when the exams approach near. Experiences have shown us that if a student has to pull many all nighters and drink many cans of red bulls, he or she is unlikely to do well. Paradoxically, those who tend to do well are those who appear less hard working and less anxious, because a healthy regime of life contributes to good performance and it is also a good indication that the student is well prepared.

As you may have noticed, the article about how to do well in exam is not talking about what to do during exams in the previous paragraphs. We believe that the results of an exam depend more on the effectiveness of revision than on the actual performance during the exams. Revision is important to doing well exams. In fact, the purpose of exams is to cultivate in students’ the good habit of revision, as knowledge absorbed during a period of focused study can be better mastered and retained.

But there are definitely techniques that you are use on the day of taking exams, such as bringing in a bottle of water, taking the easier questions first etc. One less known trick is to run through key concepts in the notes just fifteen minutes before you enter the exam hall, such as key words, formulas or important data or number. Short term memory helps. And the quick scanning of key concepts will also boost your confidence that ultimately enhances your cognitive ability and your performance in the exams.

There are many more techniques out there for you to practice. The article just provides you with some time tested techniques. But you can always tailor them to suit your individual habit or even invent new ones to suit some of your idiosyncrasies. Ultimately, you have to realize that techniques, no matter how smart they are, cannot replace hard work. Attending classes, doing tutorials and arranging consulting with teachers regularly ensure more than half of the battle won for the exams.

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