By: Rokhana Riaz
Know the Secrets of Success in Competitive Exams!
When it comes to exams and study, everyone will tell you “study hard” for the competitive exams. It is believed that studying hard is ‘the key to success’. Well, let’s break up with that school of thought. Of course, if one wants to succeed in a competitive exam, one will have to study. But, in the 21st century, where everything is getting smart, from phones to TV, why can’t you? You got to be smart today. You have to study smart.
Have you ever wondered why competitive examinations such as CSS and PMS are so difficult to pass these days? Why even the university toppers would flunk these exams? Why some people who study even for more than three years still fail to get through? The answer is: of course, they do “hard study,” but they fail to focus on techniques to memorize things well and to easily revise them the night before the exam. So, what are these techniques and how to employ them to get the desired results? Let’s find out:
1. Relax and stay positive: The first thing to begin with is staying positive. When it comes to exams, we do get pressure on our minds. It seems like a big giant that would overpower us. We have a fear of failure. Sometimes, we doubt our abilities and that’s why many of us start thinking of leaving the preparation by making excuses like “I can’t do this” or “it’s beyond my capacity”. So, many aspirants don’t dare to take the exam despite spending a considerable time in studies.
But, remember it’s all in our mind. Just relax and believe in yourself. Do not think how many people fail the exam; rather focus on those many people who achieve success. Create an image of yourself; imagine your name on the list of toppers and being happy. It will motivate you. Believe in yourself, stay positive and relax.
2. Read the syllabus and make a plan: Next to-do is to get, thoroughly, through the syllabus – and past papers as well – and plan your studies accordingly. It doesn’t matter how many books you read for a specific topic or subject, what really matters is to cover all the topics in the syllabus and past papers. Figure out the subjects and topics first that are tough and will consume more time and then dedicate a specific time for them. Give more time to subjects that are lengthy or hard-to-understand. Make a proper plan and stick resolutely to that.
3. Write points and summaries in your own words: It is very important to make notes but keep them succinct. Write points and short summaries of the topic(s). It will make it easy for you to understand the key points and also to retain those in your memory. Believe me, you won’t forget those easily. These points and summaries will come in handy on the night before the actual exam, especially when you will have a limited time to revise a lot of stuff.
4. Connect your thoughts, create mind maps and flashcards: It is very difficult to retain all the knowledge and information you read every day. First, you will have to connect your thoughts. Create a link and make a story out of it which will be easy to remember. Secondly, create mind maps and flashcards, especially for vocabulary. Use your mind and carve out different ways of memorizing the topics.
5. Group study and discussions: In order to have greater insight into a specific subject, go for group discussions. This will help you know about different opinions on a certain topic. You will gain the information that you haven’t studied yourself and will also save your time. Furthermore, the topics you discuss in a group will definitely be hard to forget.
6. Power naps and frequent mini-breaks: Studies have shown that the most effective way to retain information is to study in small intervals like for 30-40 minutes and then taking a 10-minute break. It is very important to give your mind the time to retain the knowledge you have gained. Just walk a few steps, listen to a song, watch a motivational video or grab something to eat. Proper sleep also plays a vital role, especially on the exam night. If you aren’t taking proper sleep, you might get sick or fail to remember everything you have studied. Study for a few hours and then take a nap for an hour. It will boost your energy level and will provide you the stamina to study more and more.
7. Quiz yourself: When you follow all the necessary steps to memorize and retain the knowledge, quiz yourself. Do it yourself or ask someone to ask you questions. Create an exam-like environment. Give yourself specific time to solve questions. After you are done with that, ask an expert to check that and point out the mistakes or check the answers from a good book or the internet.
8. Change your environment: How often does it happen that after a while or a few days we feel depressed and bored? We just want to run away from that place. How to avoid that? Well, change your environment. It’s not necessary to bound yourself in a room. Go out in the sun and sit under a tree. Take a cup of tea and sit in a terrace. Study in a different room or on a sofa rather than a study chair. Just change your environment often and you will feel the difference.
9. A small, yet handy, tip: In addition to the above-mentioned things, I would offer a tip to the aspirants to the competitive exams. Sometimes, we have only 3-4 months to prepare for these prestigious exams. If one is not used to reading and collecting information from newspaper on a daily basis and also to fully comprehend the topics considered highly important for the exam, it would be difficult to make sound preparation in such a short period. So, be smart and don’t read that; follow Jahangir’s World Times (JWT) instead, because it has all the information on important topics. It’s very specific and to-the-point and you will get to read all the essential topics. Trust me on this! It will help you a lot as it has helped me.