Being calm on the day of the exam and during the exam is highly important to score as expected. Keeping your mind steady and the heart rate normal will help you give the exam easily as often it happens that in panic students tend to forget what they learnt.
While going for the exam make sure you carry all the material required for the exam. Stop revising just before the exams. You have done what you could in the time available till now. Turning the pages even till the last minute will not help at all. You have done your job well; now let your efforts pay.
When you enter the examination hall, take a deep breath, find your place and get seated till the examiner gives out the question paper. Once you get the same, go through the instructions and the entire question paper carefully. Till the time you get the answer sheets, frame the answers in your mind.
Utilize every minute you have while in the examination hall. For instance, if its English Language exam, you might have been asked to write an essay or comprehension or picture composition. While waiting for the answer sheets, you may decide on the topic and draw an outline of the same in your mind.
Never let your nervousness dominate the better of you. Examination is nothing to be scared of. It’s simply a way of pouring out all what you have taken in, on the answer sheets.
In this world where we are constantly bombarded with information from several sources – newspapers, television, radio, the Internet, and so on – and where we are constantly surrounded by sound and noise, and where we constantly need to communicate with others through various means of communication, in short, in a world full of babble and distractions, it needs a huge effort to get that all off the mind and concentrate fully on the task at hand.
Concentration is important for undertaking any task, and especially so the exams, which are under way right now for Classes X and XII. One way of achieving that “perfect concentration” is the practise silence.
Silence is usually taken to mean not talking. It is taken to mean not communicating orally, not uttering any words. However, silence can be of the body as well as the mind. To achieve that, we must drive all stray thoughts out of the mind, that is, get rid of the inner chatter, too.
First of all, the voice or the vocal cords must be silent. Then, we must stop communicating even with the eyes, gestures, facial expressions or through writing. Avoid all distractions, like:
* Reading, writing, watching TV, listening to music, using the telephone, computer or any other gadget
* Communicating by gestures, eye contact, body language or writing
Also, eat only at mealtimes, and take a short walk. This will help you un-clutter your mind. Just like a clean slate, it is easy to put something in an un-cluttered mind.
Of course, it is easier said than done. Start with maybe an hour or so every week and increase the duration gradually until you reach your optimum duration, which can vary from individual to individual. People have experienced that this helps them improve concentration, stay calm and composed even in difficult situations, and reduce stress – key benefits when you are writing your papers.
Often, although a question paper has been solved very well, the score is much less than the student deserved. In such cases, usually, the first few answers earn good marks, but subsequent answers go on getting less and less marks. The reason? This happens for one of two reasons – the student either ends up answering less than the required number of questions, or writes the answers in a hurry towards the end of the answer book. And why does this happen? This happens due to lack of time management or bad time management at the examination.
What is time management? Time management means planning an activity or a set of activities in a way that it will be completed within the time given, with some time to spare.
How to manage time at the examinations?
It is simple mathematics, actually. An example will make it clear. A paper commonly will be of 100 marks, and of three hours duration (there will be exceptions, of course, but the calculations will remain the same). You will generally be required to solve five questions, of 20 marks each.
Three hours means 3 x 60 minutes = 180 minutes.
So how much time should you give for one mark? Simple: 180 minutes ÷ 100 marks = 1.8 minutes. So how much time for one question of 20 marks? 1.8 minutes x 20 marks = 36 minutes.
However, if you actually take 36 minutes to solve each question, it will leave no room for error, and you will have no time left to review your answers, tie your supplements, and so on. So 30 minutes is a good figure. Solve each question in 30 minutes exactly, by the watch. It means 30 x 5 = 150 minutes in all, which gives you 30 minutes extra. If you want, you can utilise 10 minutes at the beginning to read the question paper through (if you are not allowed extra time for this), which will leave you 20 minutes extra at the end. If you don’t read the question paper first, it will leave you 30 minutes extra at the end.
Now, while actually writing the paper, keep strictly to the schedule. STOP writing the answer once the allotted 30 minutes are over, and go to the next question. Don’t worry and fret about what you have written and what you have left out. In fact, to eliminate this, try to put all the important points of your answer at the beginning of the answer itself. This will not hold true for mathematical or scientific derivations, for example, so try to write the steps within the time. Also remember that in descriptive answers that don’t involve step-by-step derivation, the law of diminishing utility applies – writing more does not mean it will fetch you more marks, because you may tend to repeat yourself or write irrelevant things.
To give you an analogy, the joy that you derive from eating gulabjamuns one after another goes on decreasing with each piece – you enjoy the first one a lot; the second gives you probably only half as much satisfaction, the next few a quarter of the first, till you reach a stage where you can’t even stand the sight of one!! The examiner will be in a similar position. So resist the temptation to keep writing after the time for the question is over.
All right, what if you feel that you have not covered all the points? Simple – still stop writing, leave a page or two blank, and solve the remaining questions, and then come back to this one in the extra 30 or 20 minutes that you will have at the end, and write the remaining portion in the pages that you have left blank. If you don’t do this, you will have very little or no time left to solve the last question, which will cause you greater loss of marks. How? If you took ten minutes extra to solve each question, then you will have taken 40 x 4 = 160 minutes to solve four questions, which will leave you with only 20 minutes to solve the last one, and no time to review or revise!
Even with five minutes extra for each question, you will take 35 x 5 = 175 minutes to solve the paper, leaving you only five minutes for review! This holds true even from the scoring point of view. Even if a very long answer fetches you 20 out of 20 marks, how many marks will you score in all? Just above 80 (80 to 85), because you will score 20 x 4 = 80 for the first four questions, but very few, or even zero, for the last question, which you botched up for lack of time. On the other hand, if you solve all five reasonably well within time, and at a moderate estimate of even 18 marks each, you end up scoring 18 x 5 = 90 marks! In exams where grades are given, this difference will mean the difference between an “A” and an “A+”!
Remember, we are assuming that your very long answers will fetch you full marks, which may not happen in reality, because nothing is more frustrating for an examiner than to read long-winded answers with repetitions or irrelevant information. So it’s better to cover your risks and stick to the schedule. Also, for sub-questions, divide the 30 minutes for the main question into as many portions as sub-questions you have to answer. For two, give 15 minutes each, for five, give six minutes each, and so on. You may have a pattern different than the one discussed here, or different patterns for different subjects, but the basic calculations remain the same – calculate the time for one mark, then for one question, then round off to a suitable duration. [The series on “Strategies to solve the paper” concludes with this part. = LearnNext Team]
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
We were reminded of these immortal lines by George Bernard Shaw after a friend of ours narrated this little tale: “When studying for our diploma in electrical engineering more than 25 years ago, me and my classmates used to discuss quite a many things technical. One topic we discussed extensively one day was a battery-powered two-wheeler. A company had launched one, but the attempt had failed. One reason was that the vehicle did not look good and was uncomfortable to ride – the rider had to keep his feet awkwardly on the battery, placed under the footboard. Another reason was that petrol was not all that costly, and there was very little awareness about the need to conserve fossil fuels and to use renewable energy.
“We, with our nascent technical knowledge, concluded that the manufacturer had basically only replaced the engine with a DC motor (the other modification was placing the battery under the footboard, of course). The delivery mechanism – how motion is transferred from the motor to the wheel – remained the same, that is, through a chain, like in a conventional motorcycle. This was another drawback, because the system was inefficient. It does not matter much in a petrol vehicle, because the rider has many points where he can refuel. However, it became a negative point for the new vehicle, because it consumed the charge in the battery faster, and the rider had to drag it to a place where the battery could be recharged. This could mean a short or a long trudge depending on where the rider could recharge.
“Our group deduced that using the conventional delivery mechanism was a bad idea. So what could be done? With our newly acquired knowledge of DC motors and electrical traction (system of power supply to train engines), we came up with an idea – use the hub of the rear wheel itself as the motor. The axle could have a small rotor, and the hub could be the stator! That way, the loss of energy in transferring motion from the motor to the wheel could be reduced, leading to greater efficiency and comfort, we thought.
“Going a step further, we also thought of having regenerative braking for the vehicle. This would prolong the gap between two instances of recharging the battery, and alleviating, albeit to a limited extent, another inconvenient feature. Regenerative braking means reversing the polarity of the motor so it behaves as a generator, giving power back to the system from where it was drawing power earlier. This is used commonly on train engines to conserve power, when the train is coasting along.
“We grinned from ear to ear for having come up with the concept. The next day, however, ‘wiser sense’ prevailed; we thought the whole idea was a figment of our juvenile and immature imagination, and impractical, and we forgot all about it.
“Imagine my shock when about two decades later, when the head of a company that had launched battery-operated two-wheelers told me during a conversation that the motor was part of the rear wheel – encased inside a water-tight hub! The very concept that me and my classmates had discussed! Worse, the company had worldwide patent for the concept!
“I felt frustrated that we had not taken our creativity seriously and had not worked on our concept further; we could have at least obtained a patent or something for the concept, even if it did not work out in the end. I called up my classmates and told them what I had learnt. We were full of regret, drawing consolation from the fact that we had been about 20 years ahead of our time.”
The reason we have reproduced this narrative in its entirety here is that there is a moral in the story: Don’t curb your creativity. You never know when you might come up with some idea that will bring about a major change in the lives of people. After all, the telephone, the motor car, the aeroplane and the computer – things we take for granted today – would not have existed if someone somewhere had not dreamed of such a thing. Imagine if Alexander Graham Bell had given up his idea of developing a device to talk over a wire, or the Wright Brothers had abandoned their concept of a flying machine! The world would not have been what it is today, right? If you get an idea, discuss it with your parents/teachers/guide, evaluate if it is workable, try to get it copyrighted or patented. Who knows, your idea might lead to a pioneering invention or discovery!
ONE DILEMMA that students often face when writing a paper at the exams is the sequence in which to answer the questions – should they just take up the questions one by one in the order that they appear, or read the question paper first and decide which questions to attempt first (obviously the ones to which they know the answers well)?
It’s quite natural to be confused, especially with conflicting advice coming in from various people. The answer depends on you, and on how well prepared you are and how confident you feel. If you are given time before the actual exam commences to read the question paper, then the answer is really easy. Use the time to read the questions, and then decide which questions you can answer well and which questions you will not be able to do well.
Start by answering the question to which you know the answer the best, then take up the question to which you know the answer the next best, and so on. The advantage is that a good beginning creates a positive impression, which will give you some edge when the examiner evaluates your answer book. However, do remember that you have to maintain a certain level of consistency. If your subsequent answers are too bad as compared to the first one, then you will lose the edge. There is another pitfall in this method. While reading the questions, if you come across any to which you don’t know the answer/s too well, then it will affect your confidence and poise, which may affect your overall performance. Of course, we are sure that your preparation is so thorough that this will not happen.
However, in the rare case, prevent this from happening by concentrating on the ones that you know well and complete them well. However, if you are not allowed any extra time to read the questions, then you will have to decide whether to spend time reading or to get down to the task immediately. Ideally, in such a situation, you should not spend time reading the questions, and should instead solve them one by one. If external choice (solving a certain number of questions out of those given) is given, then read each question as it comes, decide whether you want to attempt it, solve it or skip it as the case may be, and then go to the next question. If internal choice (solving a certain number of sub-questions within a question) is given, then read all the sub-questions, evaluate whether you can solve the requisite number, then solve it or skip it as the case may be. While doing so, do ensure that you solve only the number of questions needed overall. In short, do the question as they come.
Remember, however, that this method will help only if your preparations have been reasonably thorough and you are confident that you have covered all the topics well, so prioritising one question over another may not really matter either way. Reading the questions when no extra time is allowed for the purpose will involve some time management, which we will discuss in a subsequent piece. Prioritise when you feel that your preparations were not absolutely up to the mark or if you are not fully confident that you can tackle any topic in the syllabus.
Prioritising may also help those of you who skip certain topics in the syllabus, for whatever reason, knowing that you have to solve only a certain number of a greater number of questions, and that each question will be restricted to a certain topic in the syllabus. But then, you have to be absolutely confident of your preparation of the parts of the syllabus that you have chosen to prepare. Lastly, it is not necessary that you may adopt the same strategy for all subjects. You can decide the strategy depending upon how well you have prepared a subject; it is quite possible that you may be very strong in some subjects and not so in others.
SO HERE YOU ARE at the exams, with paper in hand, and wondering how to go about solving it. You studied hard all the year round, made sacrifices, and burned a lot of midnight oil for this precise moment – question paper in hand and pen poised on the answer sheet, ready to fly. But alas! How do you go about actually solving the question paper? A lot many of you probably give little thought to this important aspect even as you get busy with a hectic schedule to prepare for your big day. Is there a strategy to write exams? Should you have a strategy? Yes, you should have a strategy.
Remember, the guy who was 0.1 seconds late may have won the silver medal, but lost all the glory. A strategy will give you that fraction of an edge, although it may differ from individual to individual, and maybe even from subject to subject. So, here are a few basic things. First of all, pay attention to tidiness. Marks may not have been assigned specifically for tidiness, but believe us, no examiner wants to read an answer paper that looks untidy. When we say tidy, we not only mean good, legible handwriting, but also the overall appearance. The entire paper should look neat and crisp. Don’t let the pages crumple. Try to avoid smudging the pages as far as possible.
Answer books will often come with a margin marked on the left, but if it doesn’t have one, mark it with a scale and pencil (never a pen), only on the left. Don’t mark margins on both sides of the page, and don’t write in letters that are too big, or on alternate lines. It looks very ugly and creates the impression that you are trying to make a little material look like much more. Use both sides of the page to write your answer, and don’t leave any page blank.
Clearly mark where an answer ends. Draw a rule with a pencil and scale just after the line where your answer ends, even if it is a sub-question of a question. Ideally, you should start a new answer, even if it is to a sub-question, on the next page. All this is to clearly distinguish where one answer ends and another begins. Nothing is more frustrating for an examiner than to be unable to tell where an answer has ended and a new one begun.
Draw neat and clean diagrams wherever necessary or asked for, and label them properly. As far as possible, try not to scratch off entire lines of your answer, but on the rare occasion that you need to do so, it is best to draw a frame around the lines to be scratched and cross it off – it will roughly look like a rectangle with its diagonals drawn!
There will be space earmarked for rough work – use it for the purpose, and draw a line across it just before you hand in your answer sheet. Also draw a line across any pages that you may have inadvertently left blank, and obtain the invigilator’s signature on such pages if necessary. Also obtain the invigilator’s signature if you need to change your pen for any reason.
Finally, draw two rules where your answer paper ends. If you have taken supplementary answer book/s, then tie them securely with the tag provided, in proper order. Ensure that you have entered your details like roll number and subject properly on the main answer book as well as on the supplementary answer books. All this will go a long way in giving a neat and tidy look to your answer book, and create a good first impression when the examiner takes it for evaluation.
The exam fever is here. Various exams for Classes X and XII are starting over the next few weeks. In this space, we have already discussed how to deal with exam stress, especially as the actual exams approach, and what last-minute preparations to make to ensure that you do well. Now, there are some important things that you need to take care of just before you take the actual exams. We are not speaking of studies here; we are sure that you have done them well, and we have dealt with that already. There are some things, other than studies, that you need to ensure are in order. And this has to be done in the two or three days just before your exams actually begin.
So, first things first – ensure that you have your admit card in hand. Check it carefully to ensure that all the particulars are correct – your name, your photograph, the subjects that you have opted for, and so on. Point out any discrepancy immediately. This is the information that the board will enter on the mark-list and your certificate, on the basis of which you will pursue higher studies. So any mistake at this stage, especially in your name, will become very difficult to correct later. That is why it is important to check the details on your admit card.
Make three or four photostat copies of your admit card. God forbid, if the original gets misplaced or mutilated, a copy will make reference to the details easier for you to obtain a duplicate or to ensure entry into the exam hall.
Next, two or three days before the first paper, locate where exactly your centre is. Personally visit the centre, so that you know the way. This is not a waste of time – it will be better than spending time trying to locate your centre at the last moment, which may even mean that you enter the hall late! Make an estimate of how long it will take you to travel from home to the centre, then factor in half an hour for unforeseen circumstances, like a traffic diversion. With this travelling time in mind, leave home so as to reach the exam centre at least an hour before your paper is slated to start.
Candidates are normally allowed entry into the hall 30 minutes before the paper commences, so reaching an hour early will give you time to relax and settle down, and enter the hall with a calm mind. If you get late, you will reach the centre with frayed nerves, which will only add to your stress, and you will end up doing badly at the paper.
Also, get all your writing material in order – your pens, pencils, geometry instruments, eraser, and so on. Keep them all in one place, maybe in a schoolbag or something. If you use a writing board, ensure that it is in good condition. Have several pens, of the same kind, and pencils in your box so that you don’t get stuck if you run out of ink or if the pencil lead breaks.
Every day after you return from the exam, sharpen the pencils, and top up the ink in the pens (if using ink pens). Also carry a napkin or an extra handkerchief to wipe your drawing instruments clean to avoid smudging. Once inside the centre, do not try to mug up any major portion – it will only make you more nervous. Of course, we are sure that you have been thorough in your studies and you don’t need to look at the books at the last minute. However, it is all right to read that one little formula that you are finding hard to remember, one last time.
Don’t – repeat don’t – get affected by other students reading zealously from their books. Their preparations probably were not up to the mark. While you wait for the doors to the hall to open, don’t get distracted from the task on hand. Don’t get into idle chats; yes, do chat with your classmates, but keep them short; try to build up your concentration. At home, don’t suddenly change your routine; we have already told you to get into a routine such that you are at your most alert at the timings of the paper.
Don’t get distracted; get only as much recreation as absolutely essential, but don’t totally deny it to yourself, either. Finally, do seek blessings from your elders and best wishes from the others, and pray to whatever deity you believe in, every day before you leave for the paper. It will give you strength and confidence.
Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. – Sivananda Swami
As the real countdown to CBSE exams starting on March1, begins, the anxiety levels are rising high. All students, am sure have done their best to be ready for the examination. Yet the thought process of questioning oneself for an excellent performance not only for expectations of self but also of others builds stress towards the last phase.
Here are the simple ways to be confident to take up the exams.
It is time now to strengthen what you are good at rather than learning new topics or panicking with your preparations by comparing yourself with others or be under pressure due to the expectations of others set for you. Relax, you know yourself well. Therefore set realistic goals.
Last Minute Revision Tactics
• They need to be subject specific now onwards with a focus to strengthen the concepts, formulae and applications to problems.
• Have a look at your examination schedule. How much time you are getting in between the examination? Focus on the revision time for different subjects accordingly.
Time Management is the most important issue for a good outcome of your efforts. For mastering this you are advised to:
• Solve sample papers within specified time limits.
• Try to sit in the morning hours as per board timing so that your mind gets tuned to be active during exam hours.
• Allot times as per the weightage of questions and keep to word limits.
In the examination hall, be calm and patient. I have seen best of students going blank due to tension of performance. If it happens, try to relax by closing your eyes for some time, take deep breaths and make a conscious effort to be your normal self. It is important to remember that you can give your best only by being cool and patient.
Read through the QUESTION paper carefully.
• Check all sections and questions.
• Make the right choice wherever required.
• Keep in mind the weightage of each question. Work out your time accordingly. Plan more time for descriptive / difficult questions.
• Before attempting a question look for the key words in question: analyze, compare, validate, etc. Be clear about what is expected in the question.
• Aim at attempting the complete question paper.
• Begin with attempting the easiest questions first. This helps get you thinking along the right lines, and builds confidence.
Remember – you CAN do it! Ponder over the words quoted below.
• Visit your examination Centre a day in advance. You shouldn’t be late on exam day.
• Check your Admit Card.
• Carry a watch to keep track of time
• Remember to write your name and other identifying information on your answer sheet.
Resolve to Succeed and you will….All the best to everyone!