You’ve studied well, you know your texts, and can now proudly differentiate between the life cycle of a butterfly, and that of a Grizzly Bear!
It’s now time to face that daunting exam, and regurgitate everything you’ve learnt in a year, or over the span of a few months, within a time frame of mere hours and minutes.
Here are a few handy tips to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered and are revved up to ace this test!
It’s all in the prep
Much like a runner that has trained for an event well ahead and prepares for Race Day the night before by laying out shoes and other gear, prepare your pencil case and bag two days ahead, and make sure you’ve got all the necessary stationery you may need. A well-stocked pencil case with sharpened pencils, extra pens, erasers, highlighters and the like, will equip you with a sense of preparedness. Make sure you carry extras as backup to rely on in case one of stationery malfunctions, breaks, or mysteriously gets lost in the deep abyss of your humongous school bag!
Eat a nutritious breakfast on the morning of the exam
You should be eating healthy meals on a normal day as well, but this is especially important on big days when you need that extra superhero push in the right direction! Oats, a wholemeal sandwich, porridge with wholegrains and protein, and anything that would release energy slowly and efficiently will work wonders and get you through the exam feeling alert. Avoid fried, fatty and processed foods that will leave you feeling sluggish and lethargic.
Don’t revise just before the exam
You have prepared for your exam way ahead of the actual date, trust in yourself and resist the need to pull out a textbook to go over a few chapters right before the exam. This is counter-effective, and will usually end up winding up your mind into a dazed flurry of facts and figures.
Read something non-related, instead. Maybe a few pages off your favourite book, right before a composition exam, to get your creative juices running! You could also speak with a friend, print a picture beforehand and colour it in to soothe your mind and clear your nerves away, or even munch on an energy bar right before your exam!
Before you even look at the paper
Before you even look at the paper, give yourself a quick pep-talk. “I can do this, I’ve got this, You are a champion!” Keep it short, and use positive phrases! Or sing yourself a few verses of your favourite motivational song, Fight Song by Rachel Platten, or Firework by Katy Perry should do the trick!
Give the paper a general look-over, and pick questions that look the easiest to you
Give the paper a general look-over, and pick questions that look the easiest to you, be it from the MCQ section, or the short/long-structured section. Put a dot over it, or circle the question so it is easily identifiable.
These would be the questions you target first. You are more likely to achieve a sense of accomplishment after finishing off topics you are strongest at.
This will give you confidence to tide you over the harder questions.
Keep within the time limit
Keep an eye on the ever-ticking clock! This does not mean obsessing and looking over every five minutes, but be aware of time.
Your practice with past papers in the weeks leading to the exam should have given you a sense of keeping tab of time. Make sure you have practiced ahead so you know how much time to devote to the bigger and harder questions that require a fair bit of writing and mulling over.
In the case of composition, where many students struggle with time issues, devote ample time for the conclusion and ending, so you can tie things up and make sense of your story.
If a question stumps you, don’t panic
Being anxious and frustrated will get you nowhere. Take a deep breath, and utter a few positive reinforcements to yourself again, and attack it like a tiger! If all else fails, don’t spend too much time on it. Go to the next question, and come back to it later if you have the time.
And most importantly, remember that in the great journey of acquiring an education, exams and standardised tests are ways of reinforcing what you’ve learned so far. It’s all in your attitude. You don’t have to look at your exam as Darth Vader, intent on destroying you! Keep calm, and treat your exam as a skateboard on which you’ve practiced well and can cruise through to get you from Point A to Point B.
Good luck to all of you!