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TITLE: How to prepare well for exams?
By Anthony David
10/10/05
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The intended target is studentsat graduate school level.
HOW TO PREPARE WELL FOR EXAMS?

WHY PREPARE WELL?

Every one of us wants to prepare well for our exams. A good aim indeed! But it is good to ask ourselves why we want to prepare ourselves well for the examinations. Surely, you will answer:
To pass in the examinations and proceed forward in our academic careers. Agreed. But is that all? There are other reasons too!

∑ To bring laurels to
o Ourselves
o Our families
o Our schools/colleges
o Our teachers.

∑ To be first among equals: In these days of intense competition, every mark counts!
∑ To get through this or that Entrance examinations: to get a coveted seat in a good course and a good institution, say B.Tech in IIT, Kharagpur.
∑ To bring glory to our God. As we are primarily students, we need to study with all our might as unto the Lord, and that is why we need to prepare well for exams. (Colossians 3:23)

WHEN TO BEGIN PREPARING:

When should we begin preparing for our examinations? A few weeks or months before the scheduled exams? In this case, we will suffer from the vicious cycle of the last minute preparation. There is less and less time to study. The portion to study remains vast. As the time is less, anxiety mounts up and the inclination to read is less. So, if we have to prepare well for our exams, we need to begin right at the very beginning! Right as the textbooks smell nice as we open them afresh, we need to begin the preparation for our examinations.

HOW TO PREPARE: PLANNING:

Some one rightly said this: ď Be careful and plan. If you fail to plan, it is as good as you are planning to fail.Ē We do need to plan to study or prepare for our examinations.

MACRO PLAN: We need to make a macro or a larger level plan first. How many months or years are there in our course? How many subjects do we have to study? Can we do a major allotment of all the subjects in a realistic manner? Allotting the days, weeks or months for particular subjects can be your Macro plan for the year. This should be on broad, general outlines. But it should be semi flexible. You canít make a rigid or blueprint plan and say that I will stick to it! You need to allot some flexibility for unforeseen or emergency events, all the time. The plans also need to be responsive. We are all not products of an assembly line. We are human beings made in the image of God. So, we need to be responsive sometimes to the needs of others around us. So, leave a fair margin for these events, and make your macro-plan.

MICRO PLAN: Every day is a gift given to us by God. Even if we spoil a day, the Lord God is kind enough and gracious to gift us with another new unspoilt day! We need to sit and pray at the beginning of the day. Then we need to prioritize our study program of the day. The ideal would be to make study slots of 45 minutes each. The human brain cannot take in more than that at a stretch. Every study slot needs to be followed by a small break of 5 to 15 minutes. So, at the beginning of the day, in our micro plan, we need to allot pages or chapters of specific subjects for study in the given study slots. This completes our micro plan.

STILL, WE FIND IT DIFFICULT:

Some times we find that we are not able to remember anything at all, though we are spending quite a lot of time with our books. Our minds are blank as it were and we donít seem to remember a thing! What could be the cause for this? Most probably, this is because of faulty study techniques.

THE MAGIC WORD:

The magic word for proper study technique is this: REVIEW.
Yes, at the end of every chapter, day, unit or subject, week of month, we need to review all that we have read. Just before we go to write our examinations, we need to review or revise all that we have read. The more times we review a particular subject, the better we can remember it.

WHY REVIEW?

Why should we review? We need to review because our mechanism for learning and memory, in our brain, is based on synapses. Synapses are the connections between any two neurons. Neurons are the cells or the structural and functional units of the brain or the central nervous system. It is like trekking through a wild jungle. At first, we have to make a footpath. This can slowly become a bike tract, then a jeep tract and finally a Highway. How did it become a highway? By constantly treading on it. Similarly, when we keep on reviewing, we can remember very well.

HOW TO REVIEW HUGE PORTIONS?


Some of us have huge portions to study and so find it difficult to review. We need to use some special methods to be able to review effectively and within short durations of time. Just making some synopsis or points from a lesson would help us do reviews easily. There are however three good methods we must use to be able to review easily:

METHODS FOR REVIEW:

MENTAL ASSOCIATIONS:

It will help if we can make mental associations. We can associate, or hook, a known fact onto an unknown fact, which we must remember, and the make the association. In fact, we all think radiantly. We tend to proceed from one thought by association to another thought, and so on. For instance if you are thinking of the color orange, perhaps you start thinking of the fruit orange, then perhaps of Nagpur, the city of oranges, then of someone you know who lives in Nagpur, and so on and so forth. This is association in action.

MNEMONICS:
Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory had 64 daughters, all with different names. She remembered the names of each of them very well. Mnemonics are devices, which use the same letter to make some catchy sentences. The letters also stand for something that we ought to remember. For instance, I shall say: Methods Must be Memorable. The key is that the tree methods of study all begin with the letter M. Mental associations, Mnemonics and Mind maps. A more familiar example is this: My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets. This is the mnemonic for all the nine members of the Solar family: namely: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Pluto.

MIND MAPS:
These are tools of Radiant Thinking. They are colorful, creative and customized. They have a central figure or picture, which personifies the topic. From that central image, we find Basic Ordering ideas emanating. These further have branches and sub branches. Only Key words or figures in Capital letters re seen in a mind map. We can make mind maps of our own for our various topics and subjects. They are very useful for reviewing easily.

THE PROBLEM OF DEPRESSION:

In spite of all our efficient preparations, sometimes as we sit preparing we feel depressed. We feel that it is the end of everything we feel blue. We feel like giving up. Do you feel so sometimes? Donít worry. Most of us feel like that now and then. When you feel depressed. Please donít give up. Share with someone who cares for you. Remember:
There is a silver lining to every dark cloud. There is a light at the end of every dark tunnel.
So never, never, never, give up!

TEN TIPS TO WRITE WELL IN EXAMINATIONS:

We need to write mostly theory examinations. Here are ten tips to help you write your exams better:

1. Present facts clearly, comprehensively and concisely.
2. Be systematic in your presentation Let your answer have an Introduction, Preview, Inview, Review & Conclusion.
3. Write L E G I B L Y and C L E A R L Y. The examiner will have neither the time nor the inclination to decipher illegible scrawls!
4. Use a lot of colors, where and when necessary. You can use colorful subheadings or underlining.
5. A single picture is worth a thousand words. So use plenty of diagrams, charts, graphs or flow diagrams to illustrate your answer.
6. Use Key words and phrases and underline them. Most times the examiner is just looking to see if you have the key words in your answer. This will make the job of the examiner easier!
7. Before you put the pen to the paper to begin answering, take a short while to plan how exactly you are going to answer. Start after you have a rough plan of action.
8. Budget the time available for you for each and every answer. This you can do well before you enter the exam hall as you have the model papers.
9. Review all that you have written: to revise, add or correct the answer. Some times, you would have made blunders!
10.Never write doubtful or incorrect things. These will inevitably be the first things the examiner sees. They will create a negative mindset in the examiner.
FROM NOW ON:
With the help of God, we need to prepare well for our examinations. We must start at the beginning; use the right technique of reviewing. We can use different methods of reviewing. Finally, we need to be careful how we write the answers in the exam. I am sure with Godís help all of us can do very well in all our examinations. We only need to begin preparing for them, effectively. Shall we decide to begin, from now on?


© 2004: Dr.M.Anthony David, 12-5-47/1, South Lalaguda, Secunderabad 500 017, A.P
Tel:040-27002471;mob: 98482 49763;email: antdavsku@gmail.com
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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