Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beat the Exam Blues

Climb every mountain
Ford every stream
Follow every rainbow
'Till you find your dream!

With just about a month left for the Boards to commence, it is now time to pull up your socks and give your everything to studies. Whether you have been studying sincerely all through the year, or you have just woken up in panic, if you manage this one month well, you will still come within reach of that goal that you have set for yourself. So let us look at how you can make the most of the time remaining with you.

  • ·     Revisit Your Goal: What is the target that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? How close to it are you as of now? By now, you are well aware of the true state of your preparation. Is that goal (your desired percentage in the boards) still achievable? Do you need to lower it? Increase it? You need to push yourself just right in order to do your best. Under stretching or over stretching won’t help. So once again, revisit that goal and finalise it in your mind. Go by your own capabilities, and your current state of preparation. Don’t get influenced by friends and media.

  • ·     Aim to Surpass Yourself: This is the time to beat all your own past records and achievement, and do the best you possibly can. Stop comparing and competing with peers and competitors. It’s your future and your life you are working toward, so focus your thoughts and efforts on how best you can better your own past performance. Be your own benchmark. This will not only reduce your stress significantly, it will also free up mental space to focus on your studies. 

  •   Become More Efficient: From this moment on, it’s all about time management! Prioritise, schedule, organize, plan, detail out – the better you are able to schedule your day and the time available to you, the more you will achieve. I know, I know, ‘time management’ sounds easy, but how do you actually do it? Well, take one step at a time, and you will soon be there! Here are a few tips on how and where you can start working on Mission Time Management.

o   Plan! If you can create a comprehensive time table for the month you have with you, nothing like it! But if you are not someone who works as per time table, then try to plan at least week-wise, and have a sort of mini plan of what you want to achieve every day. This will help you remain abreast with how much you need to cover and at what pace.
o   Make Sure to Budget in Your Sleep. Don’t compromise on your sleep in this vital period. We all know that about 8 hours of sleep is what you need, and that is what I always recommend.
o   Create a Routine. Have fixed study time, depending on your own body clock and your most alert time periods. So if you are an early bird, plan to get up at a certain time every day. If you are a night owl, plan up to what time you will sit up every night. Having a fixed routine and schedule makes the process automatic and the brain then does not need to engage in when, how, at what time. Once these mundane things are taken care of, the brain can focus entirely on studies.
o   Pace Your Studying. All said and done, you have limited time available with you, so you can’t possibly spend forever on one topic. Before beginning on a topic or a chapter, decide how much time you will dedicate to it, and then pace yourself accordingly.
These are just some ways to manage time better. You can of course start with what works best for you.
  •  Focused Action: Studying randomly will not take you toward your goal. You now need to work in a focused manner. How much time to work on each subject / topic, what do you need to practice every day, how to revise, all this needs to be organised and planned. Concentrate on your weak areas. Is Math the devil for you? Are languages your downfall? Now is the time to tame these demons. Use your best or most alert time period to work on subjects that you find difficult. When tired or bored, yet when you know you need to still study more, take up your favourite subject. You can’t ignore your strengths. Many students focus entirely on their weaker subjects after the prelims, and as a result end up scoring lower than expected on their strong subjects. Don’t let that happen to you.

  • Use Positive Affirmations: Visualise yourself doing well and achieving your goal. Write down your goal statement in a simple, short, positively worded sentence and put it up in such a way that it is the first thing you see when you wake up and the last thing you see before going to bed. Remember to keep it simple and in the present tense. For example, ‘I put in my best efforts every day to reach my target’ instead of ‘I will put in ….’ Frame the sentence in a way that resonates best with you, that sounds perfect for you. Every time you find yourself getting distracted, repeat the affirmation to yourself.

  • ·        Practice Digital Detox: Detach yourself from all gadgets and technology – be it your mobiles, your I Pads, your laptops, or your Play Stations. Bid a temporary adieu to them from now till the time you finish your last paper. This is not to say that you should not enjoy any breaks. But let your breaks be non-digital. By all means, when tired and exhausted, listen to music, fool around with your siblings, exercise, go cycle or play a few minutes of ball. But avoid watching TV, going on that favourite YouTuber’s channel, or chatting on WhatsApp or SnapChat. A screen break is not a mental break. It continues to strain your eyes and your brain, and also opens up numerous mental hyperlinks.

  • ·    Take Care of Your Health: Or rather, allow your parents to! Make sure you are eating those veggies and downing that glass of milk without cribbing. A healthy, wholesome diet, a good night’s sleep, and some fresh air are what are going to keep your body healthy and vital. And we have all learnt that a sound body houses a sound mind.

Apart from these critical aspects, there are some other standard tips which you would have already heard ample number of times from teachers, parents, and relatives, but they are worth repeating:
  • ·         Put in at least 8 hours every day.
  • ·         Stop those coaching classes and now focus on self-study.
  • ·         Solve past papers to assess yourself and know where you need to work.
  • ·         Know your textbooks thoroughly.
  • ·         Practice Math and Grammar on a regular basis.

Most important of all, have believe in yourself! If you have confidence, and you put in your best, even sky is not the limit for you. So what are you waiting for? Get going, and climb this mountain, ford this stream and just beyond it, you will find your dream coming true!

Good Luck!

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