EXAMS? Oh! They are back! I just don’t feel like sitting for them (By the way, who does?). Familiar rant? Examination is such a dreaded word that even the most well-prepared among us feel a certain amount of stress and anxiety. Even the mythological gods dreaded tests (preeksha as they used to call it). Therefore we, the lesser mortals, are in good company! Whether you hate them or anticipate them, they are a necessary evil, which we have to come to terms with, anyhow. Here’s on to some practical gyaan on revising for final exams, distilled from years of passing and failing them:
1. Arrange your material
So you have carefully filed all your lecture notes, your own notes from books, handouts and other references, books and past exam papers etc. Arrange everything well in advance.
2. Major Topics
Identify the topics for revision based on:
The content The weightage for each part
Past examination trends Your own interests and abilities
3. Make a Timetable
Start revising for exams at least 5-6 weeks before they start. Do not aim to shatter the earth by setting unrealistic goals. Working through the whole Maths book or Shakespeare’s works a day before the exam will do you more harm than good. Organize your timetable effectively to remember the most important information you need to study.
Remember, you can only achieve within the time limits, allowing for the all-important study breaks.
4. Balance your subjects
Allocate time to different topics based on the above to ensure that you have enough time for revising all of them. Balance is the key here. Spare more time for the areas you find tough but do not sidelines the easy ones either.
5. A Good Place to Study
Find a peaceful, well-lit place that is comfortable and distraction-free. Log out of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Our brains work best under an optimum irritation level i.e. we work better if we're a little too cold, or on a rigid chair.
6. Getting Down to Revising
A. Making notes
Now is the time to revise the notes you had collected all the year round to make them work for you. Read them through, while
UNDERLINING the key words to HIGHLIGHT them.
Condense your notes into briefer versions by cutting down the content to easily manageable proportions with an aim to make an index card for each topic. Your notes should work as an aide to memory, not as a repository of information.
Diagrams and tables play a special role in packing a lot of information in a small space and making it visually memorable. Here, less is more!
i. Study your notes for a particular topic 3-4 times to fix them in memory rather than having a once and for all approach.
ii. Focus on recalling the information triggered by the key words/questions.
iii Use mnemonics (memory aids). Use the initial letters of a word/ phrase to trigger associations.
For example, the key points in the topic 'Triggers behind India’s Freedom' could be easily remembered using the acronym 'WIDE' which is expanded like
W = World War II ended I = International pressure
D = Domestic unrest E = Economic situation
You can try out your own little personalized acronyms, which will stand by you well in the exam hall. Visualize India’s freedom struggle, which would evoke images of mass protests, lathi charges, British army etc. Diagrams and mind maps make your learning more stimulating and less prone to memory failure.
This last-minute revision, now reduced to a minimal level, is quite helpful. However, avoid learning any new material the day before the exam, as it can dislodge the material already learnt and cause confusion and panic.