Most of the students in today’s colleges and universities are quite unhappy with their results of final exams. If this is your situation as well, you may find yourself in a helpless position where you do all you can to score better grades, but end up discovering that it was to no avail. These situations are often quite painful for students. What hurts even more is hearing about a classmate who studies only a few hours for the exam and ends up scoring perfect grades every single time. This may inspire some to try and to the same to be able to easily score perfect A’s without studying or putting in any effort.
However, the reason for the success of these few students is very different from that of most others. Unlike what many students tend to believe, these successful students are consistent in applying a selected few strategies that give them the edge in attaining the best possible grades during each semester. This consistency is what allows them to avoid studying everything in one night.
The Source of the Problem
Many times, it happens that the difficulties that students encounter while trying to prepare effectively for their final exams come from the source of the need to enhance their elementary skills. These may include time management, reading, taking notes as well as coping with existing anxiety issues. If you find this to be relating to your case, then reading and learning about these skills can benefit you and help you strengthen your fundamental skills that contribute to learning. Some of the uncommon reasons of experiencing difficulty in examination preparation by students is that they have a constraint in time that they are not able to cope with, have a lack in the preparation or a lack of focus on the exact course material. In some cases, this can even be caused by a difficulty in understanding the theory portion and perspectives required to correctly apply the understanding of the course in related problems. This can result from students trying to maintain a less effective approach to examinations such as memorizing entire materials on the last day before the exam instead of trying to analytically understand it in chunks over the semester. This can lead to a high probability of an anxiety attack in the exam and may even cause the student to blank out and not understand anything.
Moreover, this is also the case when students tend to seek effortless and quick solutions to the preparation for their exams. This makes them rely on the chance of learning the entire semester’s course in a few days. As long as the reasons for failure or poor grades is not a lack of effort, or a poor studying approach resulting from procrastination, students can easily hope to improve from studying with a different perspective, or after acquiring a few more skills essential to their learning. The issues that stem from this are common among many students which is why they have been extensively researched. Therefore, with a little change in the approach and strategy, these students can also breeze through their exams with straight A’s. All that’s needed is the will and determination to not feel satisfied with average grades.
Can Cramming Be Your Culprit?
Many students are all too familiar with the concept of cramming and pulling all-nighters with a large jug of coffee. This is dangerous as it has now become the image that comes to the mind when thinking about studying. Studying for them becomes the difference between passing and failing an examination depending solely upon how much time they have for the process to work. This leaves scoring good grades completely out of the question. They end up in a caffeine-fueled anxiety and end up feeding their brain with notes until they can’t take any more. This leads to a frantic examination day full of frustration and blanking out.
The method of cramming the last minute is bound to fail every time no matter how much you try to assimilate information. This is because a human brain is not meant to integrate such vast quantities of information in such a short period of time. This will make anyone feel overwhelmed with information which ends up getting disconnected and cluttered in the brain. This can lead to an increase in your sense of dread before the exam which will cause you to forget even more information. It is more than unreasonable to expect to perform well in an exam at this level. Even if it does work out once, it cannot occur consistently at all. By cramming, you cause yourself to get limited by time to conquer an unlimited set of ideas by comparison and try to store those ideas in a meaningful manner in your brain. This does not give you a chance to reflect on yourself and what you have done, and instead makes you struggle to even hold the ideas you already learned and can cause a severe increase in stress. When the material you keep learning does not form well-connected pathways with the pre-existing material, it causes the ideas to spill out the information and this causes it to be stored in your short-term memory instead of long term. This memory is cleared when you sleep and hence you won’t be able to remember anything for your exam. This is a cause for concern as it can cause your memory to deteriorate over time which will make it harder to get used to productive learning methods.
On the other hand, some routines which are much less frantic and a lot more productive than your usual ones can be incorporated into your life with ease and can help for both short- and long-term study goals. The key to this is to make analyzing and reviewing a part of your everyday study and homework routines. This can be done by making reviewing easier and simple at first by starting your homework or study session with a quick review of the study material and resources that have already been covered by you. This will help you to incorporate it into your life and form strong connections between the material as more and more information is gradually added to the stack. While doing so, you must also focus extensively on the important keywords mentioned in the material. This can be thought of as a study warm-up instead of an actual study session.
Now, you can also include the habit of reviewing lecture notes and other important material provided by your teacher. This revision will help you to cover all your important topics and correctly memorize and understand them. This can make it easy for you to look for concepts which are repeated in the course and form a strong foundation for those concepts. Your assignments and homework are also evidently important revision tools that can help you to check for questions which have a high probability of coming in your exam. After you have done this, you should make sure you attend the tutorial sessions of your course where they test your reviewing and help you in the concepts you find difficult. In the end, this is meant to help you understand which topics are difficult for you and compare them with what you think could be important. In the end, the idea is to coordinate your new learning material with the old one and then use it to proceed through the course.
Effective Steps to Effective Study
If you have not been able to study regularly up till this point, you shouldn’t lose hope. It can be beneficial for you to begin your academic journey by mastering a few basic steps that are meant to help you to strategize and plan to achieve a specific study goal for the upcoming exams. These steps involve the selection of key concepts from your course material and using them to help you in getting ready for the exam. Therefore, you will be able to establish an exam ready environment which would allow good study habits to flourish and allow you to study efficiently.
- All the central material must be read thoroughly and be used to compile notes from it. These notes must then be revised and be saved securely since they are going to be an important part of the upcoming examination period.
- Past assignments and homework must be reviewed. This can then be used to provide feedback on your previous learnings and also help build some important connections which you may have missed by yourself. Then the highlighted section must be practiced by writing and once that is completed, you can use this information to try and solve relevant problems to see if you are able to correctly apply the concepts that you have studied.
- Ensure that you know all the important details of each exam which will be essential to scoring well. These may include the format, time duration, weightage per topic, etc. You should know what percent of the final grade will come from this exam, but at the same time you should give your best in it irrespective of its weightage in your GPA.
- Set realistic goals for your exams, and on the basis of your goal divide your syllabus into sizable chunks that can be covered on a daily basis. After doing this, you must write down all the steps required to prepare yourself for the exam on a piece of paper and stick it next to your planner or calendar.
- You should know how to maintain a balance between your exam studying and covering regular course work. This can be done properly only if you are willing to sacrifice some other aspects of your daily life such as hanging out at the local diner, or watching TV.
- Make use of all the study aids that you can find such as reference books, previous question papers, and library notes. You can also approach your professor to see if they would be interested in helping you with your study and also in providing you with extra material for the exam. These study aids are resources you must take full advantage of, else they are of little value and significance.
- You should analyze your course material and figure out which are the major sections and concepts for the exam, and which ones do you consider important in which order. This is what will help you to process your thinking with the course and analyze which sort of questions may be asked from these important sections. This can then be used to form a correlated study guide which would help you breeze through your exams and score well at the same time.
- Start studying at the soonest point in time that you can. This should be done while doing your best to avoid procrastination
The steps mentioned here are considered to be heavily constrained by time limits which is caused by difficulties on the student’s end in proper time management. To avoid this, it is important to start studying at the earliest while keeping in mind that you are essentially learning to change your life and improve your performance on a more permanent level. However, many students try to place efficiency on a pedestal while studying and end up ignoring the effectiveness of their study. This causes them to cut out some of the important steps of learning while still expecting to learn the same. You must remember that there isn’t any point in trying to be efficient when you are unable to get any benefit from it. You will find that using these new strategies consistently will help you attain a more streamlined approach.
Everything Begins with Motivation
Motivation is the fuel to the fires of success. To develop a heightened sense of motivation and also allow a long-term memory of complex concepts from your material, you need to have a genuine desire to succeed. This can be done only when your desire to success supersedes all other desires you have. Without this desire and motivation, your work may seem like a burden or a chore instead of a form a successful investment of your time. Whenever this is the case, you will have difficulty in remembering what you have read in the past and instead will start losing information since your brain would not classify it as important. Instead, you must strive to develop an interest in everything you do. The great Bruce Lee once said that we perform large and important tasks the same way we perform small and unimportant ones. Once you start taking responsibility in trying to develop your interest, it will start to show up as well.
However, it is important to know that motivation is not the answer to everything. Sometimes, despite being motivated you may start to feel dreadful about your upcoming exams and this can make you unsure of the key concepts that you have already learnt. If you fear your ability to remember things may go haywire during your exam, you have a simple method to prove it will not – give a mock test. This will not only help you realize your strong and weak suites but will also aid in developing your confidence in your learning ability and current practice.
Apart from this, if you wish to know what you know, here is a simple strategy explained in four easy steps. You can begin this strategy after following the 8 Important Steps mentioned above.
Identifying Key Concepts
You must go through your texts and pick topics and parts of the material that seem to have a high priority in the chapter. After finding them, highlighting them isn’t enough – you must articulate them in your own words in a notebook.
While you read the text to scan for information, you can look for text that looks different than the rest of the document to analyze its level of importance. For example, parts of text given in bold hold a high level of importance. You can also look for small statements of how things are proven or how a certain part of the information came into existence. This is especially true for subjects like mathematics. While you make these notes, you should also listen for topics or lectures on similar titles to help your understanding of the topic. This also helps you to provide a reference point for when you are studying for exams and need help understanding a future topic deriving from the current one.
Understand the Key Concepts
This means to develop a deep understanding of the course materials and other important notes by reviewing them and trying to fill in any ideas you may have missed out on. Apart from this, you should use this completed set of notes to help you in the exam prep later in the semester. This will help you analyze how the lecture treated the key concepts and will allow you to do the same.
Another strategy for understanding the elaborate concept that involves solving a series of questions which will help you to understand the topic in a more precise manner. This will allow you to work lighter and still remember more than you ever can while cramming. A ton of students stand by the method of memorizing each topic of their course and instead are not able to focus on the ideas that are key to their success in the examination. This is what makes studying without understanding quite dangerous. Instead, if the focus is put on understanding the topic while answering questions related to it, you will be able to learn the material you need to learn and also practice applying it to helpful topics. This will ensure your success during the exam.
A reason for why there is a lack of elaborate understanding in the learning process is that students are often under a pressure of time deadlines. This makes them even more anxious and underprepared to complete the syllabus in the given time frame. While this strategy may sound weird, it is completely applicable in real life and can help you to function properly while memorizing.
When underprepared students are made to answer questions regarding the work they have, this causes them to get even more anxious than before and begin to forget what they have already learned. However, if they try to answer questions while learning and while they are alone, this can help them to begin to see their problems as solvable and use it to make a change in the way they are able to learn their material and prepare for their exams. You must also be able to answer questions and try to utilize the solutions you and your peers have to come to an answer together. This is one of the major benefits of studying in a group instead of doing it alone. If you are learning answers, do not try to repeat them as they are, but try paraphrasing them as this will store the answer in your long-term memory instead.
Organize the Key Ideas and Supporting Information
This is an important step in being able to determine how all the key ideas are able to differ from each other and also leads to a change in perspective, allowing you to see the big picture for yourself.
While you are reading your chapters, you can use the outlines to help you as guidelines for useful information and can also help you to look for important connections between various items. While you take notes while reading from this information, you must utilize the Cornel format which requires you to function while writing important and key terms in the margin and having a cover page for each section. You should also consider using a visual map of information which lets you show how each concept is made to interact with every other concept. This can make you work to make a better handbook of notes and important lecture information to be utilized during your exam. Relational Understanding of the subject is meant to refer to the idea of how grouping all the course concepts together along with various themes and issues can help you keep your information connected. This will help you to develop a short phrase or a mnemonic retrieval cure to act as a fast trigger for your recall of the related details to all the information.
By starting to practice your ability to recall using the retrieval cue, you can start to build a strong connection between that cue and the information you need to recall. This can help you reduce the information to be memorized for the exams as by merely memorizing the cues, you will be able to recall all the information you have associated with it. This is supported by a majority of studies conducted in the field of memory and learning. This also suggests that strong and precise nouns are some of the best retrieval cues for using for exams. Apart from this, you can also draw diagrams to express the relationship between a few items and these are referred to as mind maps. These were popularized by the BBC show Sherlock and are very accurate in helping a person remember information for total recall. There is no doubt in the fact that learning is essential for exam success, however, the kind of learning which needs to be done is slightly different from the kind that we do while memorizing. This learning is built up over a large amount of time (a month or so) and therefore allows your brain to properly get familiar with the information that’s been given.
Four questions can be your perfect guide for this information mind map. These are – “What are the key sections of the material?”, “What do I need to learn about each one?”, “Which questions will best help me to understand the chapter and summarize it in my words?”, “How can I relate these questions and their answers to each other to form a path?”.
Irrespective of the strategy you choose for organizing your ideas into words, you will be able to learn what you need to and will surely see a more successful result in your upcoming exams. However, it is important to always study the course in a way that everything is related. This will allow you to form better connections with the model of material and course you have. For example, it would be very unproductive to use learning strategies to memorize the definitions of each chapter when your exam would actually be inquiring more about numerical problems instead. Where you have definitions and similar concepts of importance, you can use the above methods to learn them. However, the only way to master numerical problems is to solve as many of them as you can. This can be adjusted and applied to any subject of your choice.
Develop Your Memory
The idea of a bad, or faulty memory naturally is a flawed one since nobody has a faulty memory from birth. Instead, they do have a problem of not correctly developing their memory to function in a way that would benefit them. Instead, they work in a way that would not benefit them and learn to forget things after reading. This can occur due to a neglection of studying in an attempt to memorize things, while it is actually what causes the memory to pick up a habit of forgetting things.
This applies especially to university students as it is important for them to distribute their practice. This means that you must review all new material soon after learning it and also do it often in the future. You must also start this as soon as possible after encountering the new material, preferably on the same day as this is what will cause you to learn it properly. Else you may end up losing as much as 25% of all you learned in the new material. For forming connections, this can be a big deal as that 25% may contain data that relates key topics to each other. This is what can cause a problem for various people studying and preparing for exams. The final review sessions are meant to be conducted before the exam and you must space out the rest in a manner to leave room for at least seven study sessions in between. These coordinated review sessions will serve to boost your memory for these key topics and will also help you to see new patterns and connections in the text. This will help you further improve your grasp of the topics. You may also try to take early action in order to eliminate your confusion so that you do not have to panic at the last moment and end up with losing the information you have already learnt. This is to avoid the forgetting process which has been hardwired in your memory with time. If you do not review the content repeatedly, then the final sessions before your exam will become re-learning sessions which will send you back to the old habit of cramming.
Mnemonic techniques are also helpful for many students to learn new topics. These function as useful retrieval cues for you to learn and understand the relationship between chunking. This can include things like abbreviations, rhymes, acronyms or even phonetics. Usually, people tend to use an abbreviation of the entire sentence which helps in making things better than before. For example, if you wish to remember all the colors in a rainbow, then you can use the mnemonic VIBGYOR which gives the cues for Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red. This can end up being very useful when you need to remember a list or something similar.
A major advantage of these mnemonics is that they are able to help in testing one’s memory. A ton of strategies exist for this such as doing your assignments again, writing essays, making cue cards, etc. These methods are going to reinforce the same concepts in your mind again which will help you to learn a lot faster than before. An even better way to learn all these concepts would be to learn via flashcards and have someone quiz you on them afterwards. This will help your brain to classify the information as important and it will store the information instead of discarding it.
Feedback is an important part of the learning loop. This should be collected both times – during the exam, and from your own study sessions which allow self-questioning and self-testing. In the end, this helps you to use the feedback to help yourself improve in topics you have not been able top properly practice. This is what will help you to analyze the effectiveness of the learning techniques you have been using and then measure it against various other methods mentioned in this article. You can also get feed back from your assignments and homework by merely attempting it without any help from the text. This will become an effective way of regularly testing yourself on these important topics. This will also allow you to avoid the mistake of focusing on memorizing things when the application of the concepts in the material is what is key to your course. While you attempt assignments again then you tend to work towards seeing the patterns and connections in the data. This will allow you to work in a manner that will support your performance in the way of the learning methods mentioned here. This can go a long way in helping you see successful results in your final examinations. While you test yourself, you can also consider some of the specialized preparation strategies to aid you a little extra during your exam days in order to score the best you can.
Strategies for Multiple Choice Questions
All the strategies which have been covered so far are going to be helpful to aid in your preparation of the examination. This must now lead to multiple-choice questions or MCQs. These are questions which normally are difficult for students lacking sufficient knowledge about the subject. This can make them challenging for those students, while for others the same does not apply. This can be seen in the case of students who have ended up deciding that they are incapable of solving multiple-choice questions in an effective manner. This couldn’t be further from the truth as every student is surely capable of efficiently and effectively answering multiple-choice questions. For other students lacking this, it becomes hard to solve the same multiple-choice questions and they end up scoring less in examinations. However, the strategies mentioned below are going to help you rectify this problem.
The reason for the tests to be so difficult is that they have an extreme structure in the exams which is vastly different from the difficulty of the material. Making an assumption of treating MCQs as questions that do not require any preparation since they are easy is a big mistake made by a ton of students. This overconfidence can prove lethal for their GPA however. MCQs also have a few negative characteristics such as having many questions that shuffle up the topics that you have already learned about by forming connections. They can also have the very same idea reworded which is meant to confuse and trick students. Lastly, the MCQs have questions that often do not have importance in aiding in your journey to completely understand the chapter and apply their key concepts. The reasoning ability plays a major role in helping students learn from this and therefore go beyond all the material you have covered in class. This can require you to go beyond the basic problem and make analogies that have not been mentioned there. Your level of preparation shouldn’t be merely enough to be familiar with the material, but rather enough that you should be in a state to teach it to your peers.
In-Test Strategies for MCQs
All the characteristics of multiple-choice questions combined make these tests either completely ignored or feared by most students. However, this set of in-test strategies will help you to make a few good decisions while attempting them and end up scoring better than before. There will also be a few extra preparation strategies mentioned along with this to help you prepare for the mentioned questions. These strategies are:
Previews Matter for Exams
When you begin to browse and read through the question paper, you should remember the questions you think are easier. These are the ones you should pay attention to first and if there is a time constraint or negative marking, you can plan to skip the ones that you feel are very hard.
Start with Easy Questions
The easy questions should be solvable enough to build up your confidence and allow you to work towards solving the ones which are not that easy. If you start with the difficult questions, it can destroy your confidence in the beginning only and cause you to panic and forget the things you have studied.
Recycle the Test
Ince you have done all else, you can try to find the questions you were not able to do in the first attempt. Do this only if your exam has no negative marks for wrong answers, else it is better to leave things alone.
Set Time Goals
Your time in an exam is limited and you should, therefore, be able to make the best of it by spending your time on questions you are sure you can solve. Try to pace yourself by making sure that you will have at least five minutes at the end for reviewing your answers. Your first answer needn’t be your best one, but it will be a start. If you change your answer in the MCQ test, you should first be sure that you have a good reason to do it. Don’t go by the myth that consecutive questions cannot have the same answer.
Read Everything with Care
The questions you read are meant to trick you. So, be sure that you read them carefully before you answer. Clues are often hidden between the lines in multiple-choice questions and therefore you should try to read between them to find out the true meaning of the question.
Circle Keywords in the Questions
If your university allows it, you can underline important phrases in the question to assist you in understanding them correctly. This can be used to help you to avoid being tricked in questions with words like “never”, “all”, “always”, and “sometimes”.
Try and Recall from Cues
This can essentially help you in guessing smartly for the question you don’t know the answer to. Smart guessing involves the elimination of answers as per which option doesn’t match the question. This can often help students score a grade higher in the exam than without.
Try the Cover-Up Strategy
This strategy is extremely effective in multiple-choice questions with tricky options. You should just try to answer the question without looking at the available options and you will reach the right answer.
Read the Options Carefully
The options in a multiple-choice question can sometimes be incredibly tricky and differ by only a word, alphabet or number. This can make it hard for people looking to guess the right answer. However, if you read them carefully along with the question and think about the option afterwards, you can reach the right answer without any problems.
Use Hints in The Options
Sometimes the examiners give slight hints in the form of extremely similar pairs in the options. Often the right answer is one of these two options and you can figure it out by utilizing the methods given above.
Be Prepared for Change
Although it is mostly unwise to change your answer, you may sometimes have a genuine reason to do so. So, be sure that you don’t darken your answer too much in case you may need to erase it.
Be Wary of Overly Descriptive Words
Sometimes you will encounter words that describe or portray situations as right or wrong. These have often contained the wrong answer in MCQ tests and only circle them if you are certain of the answer.
Pay Attention to the Detailed Terminology
Smart guessing can also be done with the help of the terminology of the chapter. Options that have familiar terms relating to key concepts of the material are what will help you to score much better in your exam.
All in all, you should remember that your goal is to look for the best answer relating to the question.
Performing Well in Essay Exams
There are some students who are certainly confident of their essay writing skills and can work to provide a significantly epic performance in their final exams. The essay type questions bring with them an opportunity for these students to show off their skills and make an impression on the examiner. However, this is not the case for everyone since some students can be quite uncomfortable with writing long paragraph based essay type answers. If you feel you are one of them, you may wish to consider the thought of generating a comfort level with the idea of writing long essays. This is important to be able to score well in the semester. Doing well in this kind of examination requires you to be thorough with the concept. For this, you must follow the learning strategies mentioned in the above paragraphs.
It is essential that you remember as well as understand the relationships between all the elements for the exam and can describe these in your answer sheet. The way to do this is to think in an analytical and critical manner while articulating the concepts in writing.
Most essay type exams have less questions than multiple choice question based exams in order to maintain the time frame. These have questions based on topics that have a close relationship with each other, but have been worded in a manner to hide that relationship. These can sometimes require you to answer every question in the exam, or pick a few that you wish to answer. Questions mostly tend to pay emphasis on topics relating to analytical themes of the course material and can also refer to theories and ideas that give it direction. The next section involves tips and strategies to help you master essay type questions and will also provide in-exam tips as done for the previous section.
Performing elaborate rehearsals of the most important concepts from the course is what will help them stick to your mind. The point of your focus should be to understand the issue or theme projected by the course in a more application-based level. This is the kind of understanding that can set the student apart from the class and help in breezing through essay questions. Apart from this, some courses even offer certain understanding tools such as theory models to help students in applying connection between phrases, etc. Therefore, the preparation needs to be focused more on the broader picture than it is on the details of it.
Many effective writers are able to emphasize the importance on the construction of possible real-world application type questions of the course during their essay type exam. This is what can help you to make an impression on the examiner. You can look at assignment essay type questions or even previous question papers for the feedback of the answers. Many keen students may even construct questions based on the understanding of material themes. When they answer these same questions in the form of self-testing, they are able to pull the information together. Joining a study group can be a very effective strategy for this purpose.
Focus on the Way the Question has been Worded
Once you begin your studying and understanding of the material, you will begin to notice certain changes in the directions of different questions. These words are the key pointers of what the professor expects from these questions and what you can offer to make them worth reading. A ton of students end up losing marks in the essay questions simply because they didn’t read the question properly and hence didn’t answer the question in the expected manner. This is what can be done with the help of a simple list. Whenever you read the question paper before the exam, you should be sure to circle important points to be able to remind yourself about how the essay answer should be formed and what is expected of it. However, do not try to memorize it at all.
The first group of this list contains certain words that can suggest that the question requires a direct answer instead of a developed one. However, such questions have short answers, and as a result, they are rare on essay exams. They do still appear and form a great starting point for learning to answer essay type questions. Here is the list.
This keyword implies that you are required to write down a series of items or concise statements in a list format.
This simply is another word for listing
You must explain or articulate a concept in a short, yet detailed paragraph.
This means to write a clear and concise definition of the topics mentioned.
You must present the main points of the concept in a brief form without giving too many details regarding it.
This means to provide all the key concepts in a small digestible chunk.
This means to draw your answer using an illustration which can give the most information while using the least number of words.
This group of words tends to suggest a complete and thoroughly thought answer. These are slippery terms, yet often entail to longer answers than a mere paragraph.
You should consider your viewpoint of the answer, as well as others and provide the pros and cons of each.
This implies that you are required to summarize the details of the concept while also explaining them individually.
This says it all. You need to clarify something and give reasons for it while analyzing its causes.
This means to use a diagram, or a word picture to clarify your point.
This means that you must organize a systematic and descriptive answer to explain the key points and their interrelations.
This means to write your answer in a narrative form in the correct chronological sequence.
This involves using two or more ideas and putting them into focus while analyzing the pros and cons of each. This list includes the following words.
Means to look for similar qualities between the two items while also taking a note of the differences they have.
This is the opposite of comparing and requires you to look for differences while also taking note of the similarities in the items.
This means to show how the ideas are connected with each other and how they can be compared as well.
This requires you to take a stand regarding the theme of the question and defending your support of it. The words in this list are:
This implies that you have to back your defense by giving some factual evidence or reason.
This means to use convincing arguments for the defense of your argument.
Writing an essay question with the action words relating to assessment involves the use of some acceptable facts or reasons to justify a judgement or question. The words here can be:
This requires you to express your judgment against the fact or theme mentioned.
Appraise while acknowledging the disadvantages relating to the opinions mentioned.
This means to translate or give examples or comments on a given subject by means of including your own viewpoint.
Examine the subject in a little more detail and critically see its statements.
The various questions mentioned here require you to think in various levels. This should be enough to make it clear that you would need to go beyond the basics of simple definitions and you would require to think in a way that allows you to answer the questions that you have been practicing. You can finally use your ability to articulate your thoughts for showing off your knowledge about the content.
Once your preparation for the examination is completed, you will be made aware of the importance of developing a strategy that can help you approach the actual writing part of the exam. This will allow you to make wise decisions about going through the exam in the right manner. While you are in the exam hall, it is important to read the questions repeatedly. You should then divide your time on the basis of how much you would get for each question and then make a rough plan of how you wish to answer each question. After this, you should plan a little time for reviewing and then use it to find the easiest question which will help you boost your confidence.
Read the Paper
Your question paper will have some easy questions and some which are rather tricky. To avoid falling in the trap of tricky questions, you should try to work towards building a strategy which can only happen if you read the question paper repeatedly. Then you can also divide questions depending on how many marks they are worth. You can imagine 1 mark to be worth 1 minute, and so on. After this, you should begin with the questions you already know the answer to. Don’t worry about doing all the questions unless you have time left for them in the end. You will have a higher probability of scoring a higher grade if you partially answer all the questions than if you perfectly answer one or two of them.
Pay Attention to What is Expected
When you read and re-read all the questions, you must be careful in taking note for which question asks what from you. The above list will prove extremely useful to you at this point as they will help you stay focused on the point of the question which will allow you to write a better answer. Most others end up losing their grades when they get anxious and end up answering something entirely otherwise of this entire system.
Be Well Organized
Being well organized is important irrespective of how you begin or end your essay. Therefore, it is essential that you should work to keep all your information organized. This will also be received in a better way by your examiner and will also offer to provide a few extra marks.
An Introduction is Very Important
Writing a quick and short introduction for your answer which will work as a container for your thesis statement. You must tell the reader several things about the statement such as how you plan to prove it. This is what will help to get the examiner interested in the answer before fully reading it.
It is very important to keep your points clear for the examiner to understand them. You should use straightforward and concise language and also try to use clear transitions for linking the points. Also, try to include a few examples or references in the exam for showing that you have a good understanding of the material. You can ask your professor if you are allowed to paraphrase or memorize examples and references for the exam.
Conclude Like a Pro
Try to summarize your content at the end of the answer for a conclusion that would reinforce all your points and allow you to review the answer for obvious mistakes as well as legibility. When you write essay answers, you should remember that it is important to have a clear and concise writing style. There is no need for grace or flowery language as this can only waste time without getting you any extra marks. Instead, focus on stating your point and develop it throughout the answer. This will help you to demonstrate that you will be able to easily analyze and evaluate the matter of the subject irrespective of the difficulty level. Therefore, it is essential that you do not merely stop after defining your terms, but also show your ability to explain them in a way that shows you have understood them first. Also, be sure to write in a legible manner since this is what will make it easy for your reader to read it. Instead, if your handwriting is a mess, your marks will mirror it since it may become hard to decipher for the examiner. Also, be sure to number your booklets in case one of them may get misplaces, but beware since some universities don’t allow this.
For Open Book Exams
Open book exams may sound easy, but require you to be prepared through and through. You cannot find things that you don’t know since these often have time constraints. You will not have enough time to look up things you don’t know. Instead, be prepared to efficiently use the book or notes. You should know where to find the information, however, don’t get tricked into feeling secure for this exam. You need to prepare for it just like every other exam.
For Take Home Tests
You must follow the basic exam guidelines which state that you would not be allowed to do a lot of research. Also, you wouldn’t be given a lot of time to complete it. You must be direct in what you are writing and also use concise patterns. This will help to demonstrate the breadth of your knowledge of the subject matter by also referring to a variety of sources. You should ensure that your points are all analytical and can evaluate the data.
General Rule for all Tests
You should always arrive a few minutes before time, but also be wary of the frantic classmate cramming sessions outside the hall. This can make you feel excited or anxious and this is normal. If you get too anxious, then begin to focus on your breathing and slow it down. This will also reduce your heart rate. Do not care about other people in the test, focus on your own and work towards making the best of the time that you have got for the test. Your goal must be to accurately utilize the time given to you for the exam and perform the best you can during this time. This goal should keep you focused no matter what comes your way. If you come across a difficult question, skip it.
After getting this far, it is too late to give up due to anxiety. If you are feeling concerned about getting an anxiety attack during your exam, then you should consider the value of the exam for you. You should think of the exam in terms of its objective value and how much it means for your final grade. Also, try to figure out which grade you would need to score a certain way in your course. Also, think about where you wish to be and where this exam is taking you. Once you start to get a sense of the fact where you likely to be, you will know what to do. If your exam doesn’t mean much, then don’t worry. If it means a lot, then don’t worry as worrying will prevent you from giving your best.
Working with It
After calculating current grades during exams, many students find they are on a good path, or have actually been doing better than expected. This can make them feel more confident and further increase their performance. Others try to maintain a concrete grade goal while writing the exam as this allows them to focus properly. If you are still experiencing anxiety, it is time to use the following tactics to treat it:
Know What You Know
You should realize that you already do know what you know. Anxiety in exams hits students with a fear of poor performance and if you can test yourself before going for the exam, you will realize that you are actually capable of scoring well on it.
Roll with It
You need to realize that exams are stressful and some anxiety during an exam is common. This is actually sometimes even beneficial as it lets you work with more concentration and alertness. When you feel anxiety is striking hard, you should try to seek further help. This is especially true if it comes with other symptoms such as headaches, nausea, shaking or blanking out. If none of this is happening then the anxiety could be normal exam stress and you can either roll with it, or use it to your benefit, else you can go and visit your consultation center and request help with your anxiety. They will teach you some strategies to stay calm during exams and you must use them to your benefit in the exams after a ton of practice.
You should know that you need to avoid major changes in your routine during exam season as these are known to trigger the symptoms of exam anxiety. Physical activity has been known to be helpful in reducing these symptoms.
Chunk Up Your Study
When you divide your study sessions into small sessions of one hour each or even half an hour each with breaks in between, it will allow you to maintain productivity for a long time. This will also allow you to get some rest or a time-out as it can help you focus again later for a long period of time. The break you take should be spent on relaxing activities such as stretching or chilling in the breeze, but not on activities which will further stimulate your brain such as watching TV or listening to music.
Choose What’s Important
If you feel you are short of time to study, then you should focus on things that you feel you don’t already know but is important. This will allow you to get more coverage of the material than you would if you were just studying the stuff you already do know.
Keep Distance from Frantic Students
These students are always near the door of the exam hall and they are studying everything in a stressed manner. Beware of this student as this can be contagious and make you just as frantic in your test. This is the worst possible way to enter the exam hall, especially if you are dealing with anxiety. Don’t talk to others before the exam, and don’t act stressed when talking. Also, do not try to review data minutes before the exam since this can terribly damage your mindset for the exam.
Don’t Think Negatively
When you think things such as you’re going to fail the exam, or that you haven’t studied enough for it, your brain only focuses on this and reduces your focus on the exam itself. Therefore, it is important to replace all that with positive reaffirmations and statements that can help you feel confident about yourself and your ability to work well.
Maintain Your Focus
You must ensure to maintain the focus in the subject and the exam you have studied for. Avoid all distractions and negative consequences while you are at it and you should instead focus on giving your best in the current exam.
It is important for this, to learn to focus properly and give all your concentration to a single task. If you are looking for a way to do this, you can do it by using the steps mentioned below.
Write Your Distractions Down
When you get distracted, it is helpful to just write it all down somewhere and this will help you to work for a longer duration without any constant distractions. This will allow you to work without worrying about any of your other tasks since you have already written them down. Now you can give your best to studying and begin to see how this starts going for you. This is very useful when other distractions are actually important tasks that need to be performed after you are done with studying for your exam.
Park Your Distractions
Just like you park your car or pause a videogame. You can easily be able to work at parking your distractions which is the same as putting them away until you need to deal with them. This works especially well with distractions that bother you or cause you anxiety. You don’t need any more of those emotions during exam season.
Have a Clear and Concise Goal
Goal setting can be very useful when you need to use your goal to motivate you to accomplish the task you are working for. This goal can be the grade you wish to achieve, or the consequence of achieving that grade in the case of studying.
Have Your Focus Straight
You should be able to focus on the task you have in hand right now and not think too much about the long-term implications of your performance in this exam. This can help you to not catastrophize everything and perform your best irrespective of the distractions around you.
It is good to think in terms of giving the best you can to the exam instead of actually trying to be perfect.
You Should Learn to Eliminate Distractions in Time
Sometimes, the distractions you have can actually be more bothersome than your actual exam anxiety. This can cause you to feel that you are not able to look into the task at hand at all because of the distraction. In such cases, it is better to strike at the root of the distraction and eliminate it before it annoys you further.
Study in a Unique Place
You should have a regular and unique place for studying as this will actually help in removing your distractions to the maximum extent possible.
Your study area must be free of clutter and be a place where you can study without being distracted by anything. Clutter can often distract you and cause you to procrastinate studying. You should also not read on your bed, and instead, do so on a clean and composed desk.
Work in Bursts
You should try to work for a certain period of time and then take a break. If you start working in a way which shows no end to your work, things can get worse and you can get anxious.
Keep Yourself Organized
It is essential to have all your notes and material organized in one place which will allow you easy access to all the information you need without the need to get up and look for it again and again from your studying session.
Warm-Up Before Studying
Doing simple tasks such as clearing your desk or organizing your books can work as a warm-up before studying and can help you focus on the task at hand. This will allow you to destress yourself before working and your study room will also be distraction-free when you begin. You can also begin with familiar topics when you begin studying so that you can be sure of the way you work and get a confidence boost from it.
Take Physical Breaks in Between
Study sessions can lead to anxiety when they go on for a long time. This can cause your performance to soon deteriorate and create a risk for your grades. However, taking a physical break can help you recharge your batteries and be stress-free when you begin studying again. During this break, you can take a walk or do something else that can relax you while also getting your feet moving.
Focus on the Hard Stuff First
The more time you spend on the difficult stuff early on, the easier it will seem during revision. So, try to focus on topics and concepts you do not understand first and solve as many questions from it as you can. This will help you to reduce the gaps between your performance and also build up your confidence in these topics.
Have a Discussion
If you start to discuss the course material with other class members, you will all benefit from it. This is because the course material will help you to develop a level of common ground between you and the subject and will also help you all to know which topics seem more important than others.
Get Your Notes in Order
If you feel your notes are not worth studying or are too unruly to allow you to focus on them, then you can try borrowing those of a friend’s and use them to fill up the gaps between your notes. You can also use recordings of your professor (if you are allowed to do so) to help you learn better for the examination and make better notes. Notes made by you from the material must reflect the way the ideas have been organized in the text. The Cornell Style of note-taking is meant to be extremely helpful for this. You should also not leave your notes until the end of the semester and should keep reading them in between to quickly identify inconsistencies, errors or missing parts.
Think About the Good Stuff
Test anxiety is something that no one talks about in a positive light. This is for good reason, but reaffirming positive statements to yourself each time this feeling strikes you will slowly but surely start showing you the results. You can later tell yourself that you can do it and that you should find it to be helpful to study the elements and parts of the course that you are familiar with.
Steps to Reduce Anxiety During the Exam
If you are already in the exam hall and are getting an anxiety attack, you can try to utilize the following methods of reducing it:
Figure Out Your Game Plan
An exam may sometimes surprise you, but there is always a game plan that can help you fight against the odds and score well. To do this, you need to look through the question paper and search for questions in increasing order of difficulty. Once you have done this, start solving them in this order.
Get Familiar with the Marking Scheme
The marking scheme of the exam is something that will help you to understand your plan and improve upon it. You should spend more time on questions that carry higher marks than those that carry lower ones. This will help you to make sure that you are able to work your way through the paper without getting completely flustered with the number or difficulty of the questions. While it isn’t reasonable to expect to stay strictly within the limit given, you must do what is needed to spend the time to answer all your questions instead of giving perfect answers on each.
Try Taking Short Breaks
Timing is important in the exam room, however taking a very short break can still help you to relax. These mini-breaks can involve a few seconds of relaxing and closing your eyes or stretching your hands, wrists and fingers. This will help you recharge for the rest of the exam while maintaining peak performance without any anxiety attacks.
You should always ensure that your focus is maintained on the question you are solving rather than its end result. This rock-solid focus will allow you to work towards building a better level of confidence for your exam and also help your performance rise.
All the steps you have read here will help you to control your anxiety in your exam and eventually improve your performance in your CBSE finals. Hopefully this article helps you.