Here are some tips from Dr Samir Parikh, who heads the Fortis School Mental Health Programme that runs a National Helpline to help students study effectively and cope with the stress of examinations.
It’s exam time and your stress levels are peaking. Don’t worry, some amount of anxiety is natural and will help you perform better.
But if the stress is leading to marked changes in your lifestyle -- you are sleeping too much, can’t sleep, you eat all the time, you’ve lost your appetite, you can’t concentrate etc -- you need help in how ti beat the stress.
Here are some tips from Dr Samir Parikh, who heads the Fortis School Mental Health Programme that runs a National Helpline to help students study effectively and cope with the stress of examinations. The helpline number is +918376804102 and it runs seven days a week, 9am – 5pm.
Here’s how to optimise your time and effort to do your best.
1. Sleep well: Do not study through the night before an examination. Your brain needs to be rested for it to retain information. You must have study plan and ensure you get adequate sleep.
2. Focus on yourself: Competing with your peers may help motivate you at times, but it is more likely to add to anxiety. Avoid listening to and making comparisons between your work and anyone else’s. Instead, work towards fulfilling your own expectations from yourself.
3. Before and after an exam: Frenetic last minute revisions before an exam will just muddle you more. Just before an exam, talk to your friends about everything except studies. Even after the exam, avoid discussing the question paper. Worrying about the previous paper will not help you prepare for the next one. Instead, give yourself a break before focusing on the next exam.
4. Avoid stimulants: It is a myth that caffeine, nicotine or any other substance can help improve concentration . On the contrary, they are likely to increase your anxiety levels and making you feel more stressed.
5. Get physically active: Get plenty of fresh air and eat fresh, home-cooked meals. Oxygen and nutrients are fuel for the brain -- 20% of the air you breathe is utilised by the brain -- so you need to nourish it so that it functions optimally.
6. Talk about your anxiety: It is normal to feel anxious during exams, but you must talk about the way you feel. You could share your feelings with your friends, your parents, teachers or a call a helpline. Many students feel overwhelmed, but it’s important to remember there are always people around who can help you.
7. Get the right perspective: Exams are a part life and though they play a part, they do not completely determine whether you’ll be successful or not. Success in life does not depend on your performance in an exam but on how you cope with the challenges.
How to study
· Duration: Study only for 40 – 45 minutes at a stretch with breaks of 5 – 10 minutes between each session.
· Avoid confusion: Do not study too many new topics in a day.
· Skimming: Fast reading and focusing on keywords help concentration and learning.
· Highlight words and phrases: While reading, highlight key words and phrases to remember it as a ‘photographic memory’.
· Make connections: Group points or concepts together and remember them as a single chunk of memory.
· Use pnemonics: Flow-charts and graphics help in remembering things.
· For 15 minutes a day, listen to instrumental music and focus on any one instrument.
· Do the ‘e’ exercise. Strike out all the ‘e’s in a paragraph of a newspaper article.
Typically, memory loss takes place within the first 24 hours of studying and then weekly.
For best recollection revise every section on day 1, 2, 7, 15 and 30. Maintain a revision chart.
You only need to read your notes and highlighted section while revising.