Last Minute Board Exam Preparation Tips

The two national boards, CBSE & ICSE have announced their exam schedule for pending papers for classes X & XII. In this backdrop and covid19 pandemic tension, here is some expert advice for the students

By Randhir Kumar

Examinations, for long, have been the cause for concern for students all over the world. And with the COVID-19 outbreak, the situation had taken a step for the worse, causing the students unwanted anxiety, for the entire academic curriculum had been put on hold. However, with the announcement of new dates for the pending Board exams by MHRD last month, students now have hope that there’s light at the end of the tunnel after all.

Times ahead are going to be tough and for that we must prepare ourselves for what’s in store. With only three weeks until the commencement of the pending CBSE Board Exams, here’s some tried and tested strategies to keep calm and crack board exams with flying colours!

Schedule. Don’t be spontaneous.

The first thing we need to do is prepare a schedule. These last 3 weeks are going to play a crucial role in your preparedness for the exams. By now, you should have completed your syllabus as 3 weeks is far too less of a time to target the entire syllabus. Your schedule must be goal oriented because subjects like Physics, Chemistry and Accountancy require a set plan to be grasped thoroughly.

However, if you’re still left with some portion of the syllabus, start off by reading backwards. Yes, backwards. All NCERT books have summaries at the end, the summary will give you an idea of all important topics that you need to cover in the chapter. Read and underline the explanation of the summary in the chapters and create smaller notes out of it. Go through the exercise and test your knowledge. Repeat the process for all unread chapters. Caution: Ensure you do not spend more than a week to complete what’s left of the syllabus.

Now, once you’re covered your syllabus in its entirety, distribute subjects according to your expertise and give more time to topics that you’re not confident at. Stick your NCERT books as they’re the basis for the exam and stick to your timetable.

Practice makes perfect

I cannot stress enough the need to jot the topics you’ve learnt. Not just from an examination point of view but to increase your speed. You wouldn’t get 3 weeks to write the answers to a 2-3 hour paper. Take tests online, muscle memory is a thing and the more you practice the better you equip yourself to solve questions in the paper. Also, take a moment to improve or refine your handwriting, if it’s illegible, you’re more likely to lose marks if you cannot get your point across.

Take out past papers and observe their pattern, make notes of the type of questions, number of questions asked from a topic. Try solving the papers by setting a timer as if you’re appearing for the exam. This will prepare you for when the actual time comes. Take mock tests online, there are many e-learning portals dedicated to the effort. Scrutiny unveils gaps in your strategy and your weak points. The more your practice, the better you perform in the last few weeks before your exam.

Use diagrams, flow charts

When it comes to complex topics in Physics or Chemistry, try creating diagrams to break it down to simpler, easier to understand components. Visual stimulus will enable quick retention of tough topics. It would work in your favour on the day of the exam for a quick sift through to keep a separate notebook for all formulae.

Breaks are important

Take breaks after every 45 minutes. Remember, retention is our goal not cramming. Breaks are much deserved when we concentrate for long hours and to enable better understanding, we have to be in a relaxed state of mind. Get up and walk, sitting in the same position and place for a longer duration puts strain on your neck and a sore body never complies with a stressed mind. Go out on the balcony and take in some fresh air. Listen to music or just help out your parents with chores.

Revision of topics

Just how muscle memory aids the process of learning, when you narrate what you’ve learned to yourself, reading helps you to understand the concept better and subsequently increases your ability to remember. Try calling your friends and engage in a group study session or explain the concepts you’ve learned to them, this works in the same manner as narrating the topics to yourself to test your understanding.

De-stress Yourself

Keep yourself hydrated and keep in touch with your friends. Motivate them and yourself to keep up with the schedule you’ve prepared for last minute revisions. Take time out to just relax, watch some movies or read the newspaper online and see what’s going on around the world. This would come in handy for entrance exam interviews.

CBSE has also announced the free of cost tele-counselling service for students from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, seven days a week from June 1, 2020, up to July 15, 2020. Make use of it and take to counsellors to guide you.

Exam Day Prep

Time to pack your bags! Sort out the essential stationary keeping in mind the exam you are appearing for. For Physics, Chemistry, and Accountancy, keep pencils, scales, erasers sharpeners handy. Keep backups of blue and black pens. Make sure that you’re using a clear Ziploc bag to carry your stationary. Carry a separate water bottle and avoid eating out/drinking out on the day of the exam.

Keep a small bottle of sanitizer with you and an extra mask to be on the safe side. To ensure the safety of all students, CBSE is conducting exams in your respective schools to eliminate longer travel time during COVID-19 outbreak. So relax and trust your teachers and school for your safety.

Exam Day Dos and Don’ts

Wake up early and quickly go over the topics you’ve made your notes out of. Sift through the handbook of formulae. If you don’t feel confident enough, don’t bring yourself down that you don’t know anything. Every student gets cold feet because in exams, the trick here is to tell yourself that you’ve prepared well. 

Have a hearty breakfast and plan your travel time and make sure you reach the venue at least 45 minutes prior to the entry time. Keep your exam documents in an L shaped folder and safe and go to the exam venue with a calm and relaxed mind. Nervousness can be contagious, so don’t engage in any banter with your friends.

Once you’re in the examination hall, fill in your details in the exam sheet carefully. Don’t make haste, raise your hand and ask if you have any doubts. When you get the question paper, take out 10 minutes and read the people thoroughly and chalk out how you’re going to answer it and the time you’re going to give to each answer. When you’re finally coming down to attempt the paper, read the question again and divide your answers into 3 sections: Introduction, Explanation, and Conclusion. When you’re attempting questions that require diagrams, use a freshly sharpened pencil and ensure the figure is legible. If you can, explain your answers with help of diagrams anyway, the main purpose of exams is to test your understanding.  Ensure you’re leaving some space between your answers. Attempt the 5 – 10 marker questions first. They’re the most time taking and important and then move to the 3 markers, 2 markers and finally onto the 1 marker questions, if any. 

If you’re done before time, do not leave the examination hall. Revisit your answers and see if you can add anything to it. Re-reading your answers will help you edit out silly mistakes and make your answer more comprehensive.

—-The author is the Founder and Chief Mentor of BasicFirst Learning OPC Pvt. Ltd.