Board examinations are a rather stressful time for all students. These students are geared to score well, and prepare religiously as the marks often determine the next step. It is common for students to get stressed before writing their exams, and often even while writing the exams! Over the years, I have noticed some common mistakes that students make in their mock up exams leading to their boards, and often, even their board papers. I am noting them down here along with solutions-
1. Misreading and missing instructions – students are often in a hurry to finish their paper as soon as they get it. Every subject paper in a board examination provides choices to the candidates. I have come across so many instances where students have attempted an extra question thereby leading to a time crunch, or even left a question because they didn’t pay enough attention…or simply forgot to turn the page! It is very important to be completely alert and scan the paper during the reading time, and plan out all that you’re going to attempt.
Here’s how I approach the 10 minute reading time – first, skim through the paper quickly in a couple of minutes and read all instructions. Next, read each section carefully and see what you can attempt, and plan your answers out. Always check and understand whether you have to attempt all sections, or only a few!
2. Time crunch – Always keep a check on time! I’ve often noticed that students spend too much time pondering over answers, and sometimes too little time and thereby making mistakes. Balance it out – decide the amount of time you will take to tackle each section. Do not be anxious and hurry up – be patient. And if you can’t find a solution, skip to the next question and come back to this right at the end.
3. Following a hierarchy – It is essential for students to be mindful of the marks that each section and question carries. Look at where the long answers are, and look at where the short ones are and weigh it out in terms of time. Usually, short answers are attempted first before hopping onto the section with long answer questions. Be brief, and to the point, and don’t ramble when you don’t need to!
4. Copying the question wrong – this is another common mistake among most students. The only way to control is to not be anxious or in a hurry. Be patient, read every question carefully, and double check to ensure that you’re copying it right.
5. Diagrams – Diagrams are often marked on their neatness and how they are labelled. Make sure that you are not drawing and redrawing – and don’t get frazzled while attempting diagrams or geometry and graphs in your boards. Leave ample amount of time for your diagrams and make sure that they are neat, precise, and well labelled. The hack to being efficient is to once again, be patient and systematic while drawing diagrams.
Studying can be rather tedious and takes up most of the student’s time – and is often, undesirable by students. It thus comes as no surprise that teachers have stringent rules about homework! Over the years, I’ve understood that there are a few hacks that make studying quicker, and easier – these are essentially hacks to improve your concentration while studying. I tell my students about these in my classes too, and would love to share it with everyone here too.
Here are some tips that will help students focus on studying-
Study out loud – you are 50% more likely to remember what you read out loud as opposed to reading the same paragraph again and again. Another tip is to play teacher and student – and explain the subject matter to yourself, solving your doubts, and raising questions to make yourself understand the subject matter better.
Create mental associations – The ability to make connections is not only an easier way to remember information, but it’s the fuel of creativity and intelligence. Creating these mental associations are an easy way to connect ideas by creating a visual overview of different connections (example- an easy way to remember the first 20 elements of the Periodic Table is to make a mnemonic) You can also draw diagrams to memorise.
Re-energise yourself every few minutes – Do not sit in a place for a prolonged period of time. Walk every 20 minutes and keep yourself well hydrated while studying. This will make you active and more interested in your topic.
Take power naps – If you are studying for long hours, do not beat yourself up or drink coffee or energy drinks to keep you up and about. If your brain has to concentrate consistently for hours at a time, it loses processing power and your concentration levels slip. Power naps work very well, and help you look at all the subject matter completely refreshed.
Do one thing at a time – Do not get ahead of yourself or take the easy way out; and don’t attempt to kill two birds with one stone. Not only does this leave you scattered and distracted, it makes your memory strained – i.e, you forget everything very easily. Instead, focus on one topic at a time and ensure that you understand it very clearly.
Meditation, a long term solution – Seek and practice guided meditation. It is a great tool to sharpening your senses and improving your focus in everyday life. It also improves both mental and physical health.
These are some basic hacks that help students improve their focus and master concentration while studying. I do hope that this is useful!