It’s exam season.
Relax and revise.
The exam season is upon all you students and it’s the time when tensions run high and nerves might get the better of you – and while that’s natural, it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re sure you’ve experienced stepping into the exam hall and drawing a blank when the question paper is presented to you. Don’t worry. If you’ve adhered to a strict timetable and worked hard, your memory won’t fail you. However, here are some added measures you can take to make sure you ace the professional exams like CA, CS or CMA: the day before the first exam, during and after.
The day before the exam
Ideally, you should have covered a better portion of the recommended syllabus by the day before the exam and assuming that is the case, here’s what you can do better your chances of succeeding:
- Have a hearty but healthy meal: This can be a lifestyle rule in general but it’s even more helpful during exam days to help cope with stress, anxiety and nausea. Make sure you meals include a good balance of protein, vegetables and fruit. For a few days, before and during exams, stay away from highly sugary foods such as fast food, aerated drinks, meals that include large portions of rice or bread. Stimulants such as coffee and tea can be consumed to get your brain cells working but try not to do have too much of them.
- Take a break: You’ve been spending weeks and months trying to prepare for one exam. It’s always good to take a break and give your brain something else to focus on for a change. For a couple of hours, change your focus to reading something for the sake of recreation. Read some excerpts from a poem you like, or a few pages of a novel that takes you to your happy place. Try engaging your brain in some puzzles such as a crossword or Sudoku. All these things help in concentration and information retention.
- Get an ample amount of sleep: A lot of students have trouble sleeping during exam time and it’s part of the impending exam anxiety but adequate sleep is most imperative and there is no substitute for it. If you expect your brain to remember everything you’ve learned, then you also need to give it time to absorb that information into the memory bank. If you have trouble sleeping long hours, try taking a power nap for about forty minutes now and again to keep not just your mind but also your body going.
- Stay Hydrated: On the day before the exam, or while preparing during the exams in general, always keep yourself hydrated. Drink lots of water and fruit juices. Exam anxiety and stress affects different students in different ways. Some often forget to eat or drink, or maybe just don’t feel like eating or drinking. Remember, that’s not going to accomplish your goals. A well-hydrated and well-fed student is a smart student.
- Take a walk: The evening or night before the exam, take a stroll around your house or at the park and gather all your thoughts. Staying indoors constantly is not a conducive environment for a revising student. You need fresh air to calm your nerves and some exercise to get that blood circulating.
- A quick read: Glance over all the important points of your syllabus a few minutes before you’re about to fall asleep. That way, it’ll still be fresh in your memory when you wake up the exam morning.
- Keep your clothes ready: Keep what you’re planning to wear for your exam ready and hung up on your cupboard. It’s going to save you a lot of time the next morning – time that you can use to revise or relax.
- Set an alarm: This is probably the most obvious piece of advice that we can give you, but do set an alarm. Set a back-up alarm if you have to. Tell someone from your family to wake you up. Because of the all the stress that exams bring, forgetting to set an alarm or oversleeping is not an uncommon occurrence among students.
Morning of the exam
The much awaited and dreaded day is here but if you’ve followed all our ‘night before the exam’ rituals, then you should be ready and confident to go take your exam. Here’s a handy checklist of what you should do on the morning of your exam:
- Admit card: Make sure you’ve placed your admit card safely in your backpack. It is the most important piece of paper in order to sit in the examination hall. Take a photocopy as well, just in case.
- Exam Center: Make sure you know where your exam center is. You really don’t want to end up somewhere else when your exam has already started.
- Wholesome breakfast: Have a wholesome breakfast on the morning of your exam. There are a lot of students who go and write an exam on an empty stomach. Avoid this at all costs. Have a hearty bowl of cornflakes, bread and eggs or some nuts with a glass of milk and fruit.
- Carry water: Carry a bottle of water with you because it’s natural to get thirsty during a lengthy exam. Don’t gulp it all down at once. Take small sips every now and then. Invigilators may not allow you to step out often during the exam.
- On the way: Don’t open up your book and start revising in the car or bus on the way to the exam hall. Instead, listen to a good tune, read a book or take in the sights and sounds.
- Get to the exam hall early: Set a buffer between getting to the exam hall and writing your exam. Use this time to go over highlighted points from your syllabus. Then, a few minutes before your exam, close all your books and relax.
During the exam
It’s go time! Assuming that you’ve produced your admit card, been seated on your designated chair and handed the question paper, here are some exam tips that could help you perform better:
- Read the question paper thoroughly: A lot of times, students see the first question and start writing away. Don’t. Go through the entire paper and read the instructions on each question carefully. Then gather your thoughts, crack your knuckles and start writing.
- Focus on yourself alone: While taking an exam, we start looking around and see other students – some looking into the distance, others writing away like there’s no tomorrow. You are not either of them. You are you and you have worked hard and studied thoroughly. Don’t get distracted by others around you.
- Don’t leave a blank paper: If you’re drawing a blank on your first glance at the question paper, don’t worry. Read it over and over until something clicks. Choose the questions that seem more familiar than others and start writing. Once you get into that flow, your brain will also start working.
- Time yourself: Every exam hall this a massive clock and it’s there for a reason. No, to scare or intimidate you but to guide you. Use this clock to allot a set time for each section of your paper. Also allot a buffer-time for each section.
- Be realistic: A lot of things can go wrong during an exam – you may think you’ve forgotten all that you’ve learned, you may feel like there is not enough time to finish the paper, you might reach late and have to make up for lost time. But no matter what the issue is, there is a solution. Set realistic goals for yourself. If you think you’ve forgotten, give it a few moments and it will come to you. If you think you don’t have enough time to finish, shorten your answers and if you’ve reached late, plan your answers more carefully. Whatever you do, think on your feet.
After the exam
Phew. You’re finally done with your exam. It wasn’t as bad as your expected, was it? It never really is. Now that you’re done, we think you need to forget about what went about in the exam hall for a while and give yourself a pat on the back. Here are some suggestions as to what you can do after your exam:
- Treat yourself: Go get yourself some comfort food, a meal that you love. Ice-cream’s a big hit to relieve those post-exam nerves.
- Rest: Give your eyes, brain and body some much needed rest. Before your know it, you’ll have to start prepping for the next paper. But for now, chill.
- Step out of the house: Go hang out with your friends at the cinema or play an outdoor sport. Be fresh and recharged before you need to start studying again.
We wish you the very best for all your exams! We’re sure you’ll pass with flying colours!