How to Make the most of your studies?
Are you complacent that there is still lots of time, or are you scared that exams are just round the corner? Are you wondering where all the months have flown past, and regretting all the days you spent with friends or watching TV? Wondering whether you will be able to make up in the few weeks left and do at least reasonably well in the next exams?
There is no substitute for steady year-long studies. Those who started off systematically at the beginning of the academic year, and have been covering the syllabus from time to time, revising and learning, are the proverbial tortoises who have a head-start over the hare that stopped to sleep thinking that there is lots of time left. But if you are not in that category, the worst thing to do now is to panic, get frustrated or depressed, and start losing hope. There is a lot you can still do to catch up with your academics and give your best shot to the exams.
Here are some practical tips
- Stress Relief: Even if you are not the type of person who "appears" stressed or tense at exam time, you may be internalizing the stress and putting up a brave front. It is always better to practice some form of stress relief in the run-up to final exams. It could be something simple like deep breathing, or you could practice yoga/meditation. Some find stress relief in creative activities, others in a brisk walk or jog. Find what is good and suitable for you, and ensure that you practice it on a regular basis.
- Take Stock: Check out what level of comprehension you are at. Survey your text book and categorize all the chapters into the following three categories:
A = I know everything,Check out chapters that are in C category and see if you can get someone to explain them better to you, or whether repeated reading will get them into your head. In a few days, if you find that the C category chapters still appear absolutely hazy, just give up on them. Instead of wasting time on those few difficult chapters, get down to those in the A and B category.
B = I know something,
C = I know nothing.
- Timing: Whenever you are fresh and bright, start off by reading one of the B category chapters. Read, recite loudly if you find it helps you to remember better, and then review after giving a few minutes gap. See how good your recollection is. If you feel that the chapter is too vast and you are not being able to remember everything, jot down key words, definitions, formulae, and start concentrating only on them, instead of reading the whole chapter next time.
- When you are tired and want to wind up your study session, spend the last few minutes browsing through the A category chapters, just to review and reaffirm that you have understood them. This will ensure that you will not forget at thetime of the exams, and it will also allow you to complete your study session with a positive thought that there are at least a few chapters that you know thoroughly.
- Give yourself positive strokes by listing out all the chapters and topics you have already understood well. Put up that list on a wall opposite to you, and keep repeating to yourself that you are confident in those portions. This develops higher motivation for you to study the topics that still remain in the B category.
- Adding On: Whenever you have understood a chapter or topic that was earlier in the B category, ceremoniously transfer it to the A category and give yourself a pat on the back, a reward, or some form of appreciation.
- As exams approach, keep moving your focus more and more on the topics where you have some amount of understanding, and do not bother yourself with those you have failed to comprehend. The worst that will happen is that you will lose that many marks. If you are lucky, you will be able to leave out those topics in the choice offered to you in the exam.
- Avoid comparing your preparation level with your friends. It unnecessarily creates a complex in you. Talk to friends who study well and discuss some topics that you are slightly confused about, so that you can learn from them. But do not ask them how well they are prepared, and do not tell them how badly you feel you are prepared.
- Talk to a trusted person like your parent, an elder, a friend not directly competing with you in this exam, or a counsellor – and vent out your fears and apprehensions. Once you have spoken out from time to time, you will feel lighter, and will be able to move on with renewed enthusiasm for your studies.
Keep in mind that all tests and exams are only stepping stones towards many more challenges you will be taking up in life. They also marks your crossing over to the next phase of your life – taking you closer to your ultimate goal of becoming a successful and fulfilled person. Cross these hurdles with faith in yourself, and just give it your best shot. You will be surprised when the results show that you have done much better than what you had anticipated!
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Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.
Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.
With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!
Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja