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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Your exams are nearing

This is not to make you perform well, but to make the exam process less tiring and little more enjoyable, thus enhancing your perormance.

One's ranking ( good,bad or average) based on exam results does not determine his/her success in life. There are numerous examples, not only from history, but also in today's world, that are replet with successful individuals who were once ranked poor or average student inschool. No one is reduntant.

There are several programmes offered at the University level. The very fact that there are several specialisation implies the competency in all disciplines is unwarrented.

But examinations are here to stay and continue to remain as a tool of evaluation. Since examinations are inevitable,let us learn to live with them. The notions attached to exams and the interpretation of the results are the problem.

You should find a way to justify the exam process. Let us assume the exams are a bitter pill. It is better to take it whole-heartedly for your cure. And once you have become part of the game, why not adhere to the rules and excel?

The first step is to shed stress. It is vital for students to be able to manage stress if they want to succeed in their exams a compelling experience that causes stress.

Exam stress is usually associated with the fear that you will disppoint parents by your performance and yourself based on your expectation. This is an effort to help you and your parents understand the causes and how you can amanage stress before, during and after the exam period.


There is no universal format to prepare for examinations. Students who have faced several exams would have developed a habit of their own; while some find studying early in the day comfortable, an equal number find any other time of the day conveneient. The time of the day is immaterial, as lon as the objective isachieved.

Fix a tentative time table to go go about preparing for the examination. Some students who are used to sch a practice, can adhere to the time table wth a mathematical precision.

But you may confront occasions when you may not be able to stick to the schedule. Well, there is nothing wrong being flexible in such situations. But do frame a study plan before settling down to burn the midnight oil.

Dhyan chand singh, considered to be the greatest player the game of hockey has ever been, had an unique way of of preparing himself for matches. He used to rehearse the entire game in his mind - a map of the hockey field, the goal posts, his team mates and the field positions of challenging team players. He would have played the entire game in his mind and would have worked out the way to tackle the challenges that emerge. Wen he entered the feild next day he would be equipped to tackle these challenges with elan.

You can also follow Dhyan chand's approach - rehearse in your mind  the real time exam situation - what if an unexpected question was asked? What if you feel the time was too short to answer the questions? What if you forgot a formula? So, when you encounter a similar situation in the exam hall, you will be equipped to cope with it. Tides are not in our control but overcoming them is.

Of course, you should make an extra effort to learn a particular subject before the mind rehearsal practice, just like Dhyan chand who spend hours in the field mastering the game.

Rehearsing a real time exam situation will prepare you better for the challenges that lie ahead....


Don't get over confident with a good performance or discouraged by a bad one. If you feel that your performance in a particular exam could be ranked low, do not carry over the stress to subsequent exams. It is a distraction. Approach each paper as if it were detached from the rest. The focus should be on giving your best to each exam rather than evaluating past actions and their consequences. In fact, even after answering each question move on to the next without the thought of the previous question lingering in your mind. This attitude will enhance your concentration.

There is no mechanism to measure the aptitude of a person - not even exams. Exam results are, ofcourse, an advantage for students who pass with flying colours. But they are not the be-all and end all. Exam results do not necessarily reflect the ability of a student. Take results with a pinch of salt.

The role of a teacher is not to get all the students in the class achieve a distinction. It is highly impossible. A teacher should strive to make each and every student to perform to the best of their abilities. This can be done only if the teacher succeeds correctly in assessing the capabilities of each student and makes the student to realise his or her strength. The teacher should insist on the importance of fixing a goal and allowing a student to widen his or her horizons.

Here are a few stress-busting exercises to help you regain your calmness and composure. These diaphragmatic breathing techniques will enhance your concentration skilss and crack those exams with confidence.


1. Lie in your back on a flat surface or in bed,with your knees bent and your head supported. You can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage. This will allow you to fel your diaphragm move as you breathe.

2. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as till as possible.

3. Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.

When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions if you are lying down. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing  technique while sitting on a chair.


Stress is created by negative thoughts that originate and grow inside our mind occupying our entire thinking process therby curtailing our mental ability.

Am I suffering from stress? 

Difficulty in concentrating, sudden mental blockade, difficulty in correlating information are symptoms of stress. Negative thoughts, low self-esteem, irritability and insomnia also indicate stress. In extreme cases, physical symptoms, headache, abdominal pain, rapid pulse, sweating, nausea and muscle tension can also occur. It does not stop there. Stress can also have a negative  impact on our health and limit our abilities, making us suffer both physically and mentally.

Why do exams cause stress? 

Examination stress has different sources. The combination of different factors - the notion that each student has of exams and its consequences can be reasons for stress. 

What is the Major cause of exam stress?
Lack of  self  confidence. Perhaps in a number of instances, the cause that creates stress in students is a sense of inability. This is a subjective belief and does not really mean that the student does not have the ability to score good marks.

What else contributes to exam stress?
A sense of intense competition for the limited seats available for desired courses in desired institutions is one of the main sources of stress. The urge to equate success with admission in a premier institution and the fear of being left out also builds stress.  Students, even as they study, tend to worry about the consequences of an exam. The notion that efforts they are putting in will be lost  if they do not achieve the desired result is yet another reason.

What about negative thoughts? 

Oh God ! Will I be able to complete the chapter? Will I be able to score good marks? If the answer to these questions is yes, then fine. But, if the answer is a no, the student will consider himself or herself a loser even before the battle begins. When exams are on, the anxiety and stress of the students and their fear of failure grows. Their energy and focus will be drained. Recognise and realise the fear and rip it off with positive thinking.


How to manage stress before  before exams?

  • Take a piece of paper and write down what is exactly causing you stress and anxiety. Next to each problem, write possible solutions. Take a break and discuss with your parents or your teachers (if possible) your fears and doubts.
  • Create a schedule - organise your time and prepare for the exam.
  • Do your exam revisions alone or with your friends.
  • Test your knowledge with friends 
  •  Meet friends and try asking questions to each other.

How to beat fear?

Learn to face the exam. Dispute your fear of failure.

Attempt a mental representation of the actual conditions that cause you stress ( imagine in detail the actual conditions that make you feel stressed). When you do this exercise, you will notice that the more you imagine and visualise the exams, the more familiar you think they are. When you can deal with your fears in your imagination, you can deal with them in reality as well.

Will an inappropriate study environment cause stress? 

Possibly. Organise your study environment appropriately.

  • Create a pleasant study environment without strong lighting and noise.
  • Make sure that the room has enough fresh air.
  • Close windows and down the rolls.
  • Turn off the TV, radio and telephone. If there is still noise that will distract you, use ear plugs.
  • Find comfortable places to study.


Yes. To a great extent. Try relaxation exercises - both mental and physical whenever you feel stressed. 
  • Perform diaphragmatic breathing exercise for 15 minutes everyday and try to relax.
  • Replace your thoughts like, I won't be afraid or I will definitely succeed, with more realistic thoughts like, Even if I am afraid, I will do everything, I can try to overcome any obstacles in order to achieve my goals.
  • Spend a little time for physical exercise on a daily basis. Make sure you rest and sleep well especially the night before your exam. This is very important as many students try to stay awake the whole night before the exam. This exhausts them both physically and mentally and affects their  performance.    
How to manage stress during exams? 
It is important to be stress free during exams. First of all, face exams by being prepared. Always start by answering the question to which you know the answer. This will help you gain confidence and help you answer more difficult questions. Once the exam begins, the most important thing is to remain calm. Combine inhalation and exhalation with positive thinking. Manage your time right from the start so that you will not run short at the end. If the question paper is tough, then it is so for your peers too, An exam is level playing field.

Always remember
Not succeeding in  exams is not the end of the world. Accept this fact and it will be lot easier to handle stress. Do not compromise on sleep. It will only make you lethargic and unwell, Relaxation exercises can help you overcome your insomnia. Do not feel guilty about indulging in your favourite hobbies - watching your favourite TV programme or listening to music that elevates your mood. Do not clam up. If you are feeling stressed/unhappy, talk to someone. Be realistic about your own capabilities and shortcomings. Do not worry about how much your friends have covered.

Diet plan
When you are tense, your gut mobility changes and it can lead to repeated motions and stomach ache. So, you need to incorporate fibres in your diet. The best source are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There is no substitute for home cooked meals. Do not skip any meal. that will add to anxiety and depression. For in-between snacks, have yogurt, dry fruits, channa, fruit chaat etc. Slads are good substitute for an elaborate lunch or dinner. Avoid over-eating.

Must Have
A regular intake of water is a must if the brain is to function well. Two glasses of nimbu paani daily can take care of Vitamin C eeds. Whole grains, eggs and vegetables provide vitamin B

Dear parent,
A major contributor to exam stress is parent's expectations. This is highly competitive world and one may miss the chance of getting into a premier institution by a whisker. But a seed will sprout only with the right climate.
As a responsible parent,you should enable your child realise his/her capabilities, instill confidence and allow him/her to widen his/her horizon. Do not compare your child to another. Every child is unique. Observe, understand, accept and assuage the difficulties faced by your child. Make him/her comfortable physically as well as mentally through the different days of his/her school life.

Be a facilitator for your child to help him/her achieve the best. You can mentor your child yourself or arrange for special classes. Interactions with your child's friends will help a lot in understanding your child. Your intervention should be constructive so take care that not to hurt your child's self esteem.

Always make sure that you are available to hear the concerns and fears of your children before you give any advice to them, Try not to give advice that is not realistic. Use words and actions that will raise your child's confidence.


Students can minimise the unfamiliarity of exams by simulating exam conditions and practicing examination-type questions and answers before they sit for the exam. Practice makes you perfect. Using appropriate techniques and experience one can make crack the exam easily.
  • Get a clear picture of the structure of the examination.
  • Converse with teachers and get their guidelines.
  • Go through the syllabus, notes, review past exam papers and make use of ideas.
  • Practice answering questions in examination conditions.
  • Learn from such exams and improve your performance levels
There is no subject that is difficult to memorise or concentrate on if you love it. So give you unconditional love! At first it may be difficult, but keep trying.

  • The best way to remember a topic is by fully understanding it.
  • Associate the topics or elements of chapter with key words or images. Association techniques, both visual and verbal can aid your memory.
  • Group items together and form links and associations between them in your mind.
  • Repeat several times.Record in a tape recorder and listen.
  • Believe you can learn and remember.
  • Remember pictures.
  • Recall the context.
  • Seek out all that can be remembered including minor details.
  • Raise questions in your mind pertaining to key points of a topic whenever you find the time.

You can never remember something if you have never learnt it and you cannot learn something if you do not pay enough attention to it. It takes about eight seconds of intent focus to process a piece of information and send it to the appropriate memory centre in your brain. So, concentrate ! If you are distracted easily, try to receive information in a quiet place where you won't be interrupted.


Most people are visual learners; they learn best by reading or otherwise seeing. But some are auditory learners who learn better by listening. They might benefit by recording information they need and listening to it until they remember it.


Even if you are a visual learner, read out loud what you want to remember. If you can recite it rhythmically, even better. Try to relate information to colours, textures,smells and tastes. The physical act of re-writing information can help imprint it into your brain.


Connect new data to information you already remember, whether it is new material that builds on previous knowledge, or something as simple as an address of someone who lives on a street where you already know someone.


Write things down in address books and datebooks and on calenders; take notes on more complex material and re-organise the notes into categories later. Use both words and pictures in learning information,


Review what you have learned the same day and you learn it, and at intervals thereafter. What researchers call spaced rehearsal is more effective than cramming. If you are able to over-learn information such that recalling it becomes second nature, all the better.

Exam Tactics
Read the entire question paper. This should be the first thing you do when you get the question paper.


a) Many a time, the question paper itself contains answers to some questions.

b) If you see many questions that you can answer well, it will add to your confidence. At the same time plan approximately how much time you will allot to each question. If you find that you can't answer few questions, don't worry. Select the questions you can answer best.

c) Write the answer first. Always remember first impression is the best impression.

d) Keep equal margins on both the sides in your answer sheet.

e) Underline the heading. If the examiner is in a hurry he may read only the heading and assess the input in the answer sheet.


You can write the main answer in blue ink and heading in black or vice versa. Don't use red and green to underline or write headings. These colours are reserved  for examiners and moderators.


Give sufficient time to all questions. Don't write in excess for a question that carries less mark. If you do this, you may run short of time to write an answer for questions with more weightage.

Don't skip any question for want of time. Try to answer all the questions you can. If you run short of time, give key points of an answer rather than elaborating. The time saved could be used to answer as many questions by giving the salient points alone.


i) Make sure to attend the final few classes. Your teacher will probably focus on the topic that is most important and even give tips on what to study.

ii) Stop worrying on the examination day. Recall the answers of questions that come up in your mind.

iii) Arrive ahead of time, but not too early. Make sure that you have everything you need for the exam - extra stationery, spare battery for your calculator, material for an open book examination, a watch.

iv) Start solving the paper as soon as you read through the question paper. Leave out the questions that you do not know the answers to. Do not attempt to answer the tough questions first.

v) If you feel the exam is tough do not worry. It is probably the same for all students.

vi) In case of multiple choice questions try to recollect the answers on your own, before looking at the answer listed on the page.

vii) When you are finished, check carefully to see you have answered all the questions. Write the answer clearly and legibly. There is no point in making some excellent points about a subject if the teacher cannot read it.

  • Try to see the main points of each topic as a whole before delving into the details. Details are easier to remember if you understand how they fit into a larger framework.
  • Review the material by recalling from memory, orally, mentally, or by writing your answers.
  • Try to discuss the main points in one topic with a friend.
  • Try to look at the copies of the previous year's question papers that may be available in the library.
  • Try to identify topics/themes or type of questions consistently asked by your teacher in the past exams. Try to predict which questions might come up next.
  • Do practice questions of the type that you will be writing, within the time limit of the actual exam.
  • For an essay type paper, practice organising the answer in short outlines of the main points. Condense the material into a brief summary of the main points.
  • While answering an essay question, if you stuck midway and unable to recollect further, stop struggling to complete it. You could come it later, when you remember the answer. Move on to next question to save time.
  • Underline the key words in essay questions. Use these key words to develop a quick, short outline for essay type questions.
  • Make a short essay plan, by writing down your main points, before you forget them.
  • When writing an answer, remember to include an introductory statement to demonstrate that you have understood the question. Finish with a concluding paragraph, which is not a repeat of the essay title, but which shows how your answer has taken the argument forward and identifying any implications arising from it.
  • Don't be misled into thinking that marks will be given purely for the amount that you write. The examiners would wish to see that you have answered the question but not merely written down everything that you know about the subject.
  • Keep an eye on the time. If you are answering a question from your favourite topic, make sure that you do not run on too long. as this will leave you with less time to answer the other questions.
  • Use diagrams when appropriate, as they can often explain something more  clearly than words  
  • Try to allow yourself 10 minutes at the end of the exam to read through your answer scripts to check for mistakes or omissions.  
                  All the best to you

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