Written by: Aloysius Tng (19-U4), Ernest Tan (19-E6), Dillon Phang (19-I4), Clarence Sim (19-A6)
Designed by: Lee En Tong (19-U2)
As the examinations loom nearer, Sub-pass and Ungraded grades seem to be on Promotional price, and Preliminary reports indicate possible demise. There is a need to pass, and fast.
Half the battle is won before ever setting foot on the battlefield. Although exam skills and techniques are important, thorough preparation is what tilts the scales in your favour.
Here are our tips for acing the exams before they begin.
- Make sure to rest and have fun
Rest is the one thing we all forget about once deadlines loom near and panic kicks in. It is inevitable that our workload will increase significantly towards the examinations period. However, not getting enough rest is detrimental to your long-term performance, and that extra two hours post-midnight aren’t worth jeopardising the whole of the next day’s work. Getting sufficient sleep helps with memory retention and focus during the next day, increasing study efficacy. 7 hours is the recommended amount of sleep daily, and the bare minimum should be 6 hours. This number should increase the day before exams to ensure our brains are fully charged for the paper. Breaks between study sessions can also be beneficial, helping you to stay focused while studying.
- Remove all distractions (DELETE Instagram!)
This is likely obvious to all of us, except some of us just have no clue how to do it, or simply do not have enough willpower. We suggest deleting Instagram, Netflix, or at least restricting your daily use of these attention-grabbing applications to less than 30 mins. Applications which impose limits on phone usage, such as Forest, work wonders too. Additionally, you may want to try to place your phone away from your study desk while studying. Cutting down the time we spend on our phones can open up hours of study time daily, and these hours add up.
- Find an ideal studying spot
It’s a simple fact – humans have preferences for certain places. Whether it is the Library or F-Block during Night Study or even a bustling Starbucks, please choose your abode of mugging wisely. This is dependent on various factors – perhaps whether the setting predisposes you to chat with your friend or to focus on the paper, or maybe whether you find certain features intolerable or therapeutic. If it works for you, then it does, and studying in your preferred environment allows you to get more work done in a shorter amount of time (This writer, personally, finds that studying on the almost-empty top deck of a double-decker bus to Punggol works wonders).
- Create a timetable and stick to it
This is, again, another no-brainer. Create a timetable to organise your studying schedule. Whether it’s a dreadful subject that you absolutely abhor or a subject that you are absolutely gifted at, please ensure that you allocate sufficient time to each topic or subtopic, as well as for content consolidation. If there are areas you feel weaker in, perhaps more studying time should be given to it, but be wary of getting too complacent in your stronger areas.
- Do not study for long periods of time (maybe have a 5-15 minute break every 2 hours)
Prolonged continuous studying can result not only in inefficient memory retention, but also in fatigue or even burnout. Taking breaks is crucial to balancing work and health. Punctuating your study sessions with short breaks to recharge in between, as mentioned earlier, helps to keep you awake and receptive. While there are several strategies to slotting breaks into your study sessions, you could try the Pomodoro technique, which involves taking a 5-minute break every 25 minutes of work and a longer break of 15-20 minutes after four 25-minute stints. The short 25-minute periods gives you a sense of urgency to complete as much work as possible in that time span, while taking regular breaks helps to reduce fatigue and keeps the brain active.
- Have a nice playlist that allows you to focus
Music serves many purposes, and it can help in your academics too. Motivating and upbeat music can hype you up and encourage you to study, similar to when exercising. Classical music at approximately 60 BPM is touted as optimal because it is in sync with the average human being’s resting heartbeat. The use of calming and even meditation music can help you to destress, calm your nerves and soothes your mind. The presence of music can help to you awake and concentrate on the task at hand, but if used incorrectly, it can hinder you by being a distraction.
P.S. We also shamelessly tout our very own music column – Sick Beats! Check out song recommendations from the Origin* for studying here!
- Create your own notes and diagrams (if it helps)
If you ever feel our school’s notes to be too complicated or loaded with too much content, consider creating your own set of handwritten notes. It allows you to focus your attention on the core ideas and content of a subject and penning it down also aids you in retaining learning points and gain a better understanding of the subject. Some ideas for notetaking would be to format your notes to answer exam-type questions or categorise them by content and jot down key content, definitions and formulas. Having your personal notes also means not having to flip through dozens of pages of school notes yet again when the next exam strikes.
- Practice exam-type questions instead of just memorising the notes
“Practice makes perfect”, and this quote certainly rings true in the context of exams. The school is more than happy to provide an endless stream of practice questions and papers, as evidenced by the 109 pages of math practice questions. The sheer absurdity of the math revision package aside, practice questions can provide a big boost to exam performance. Simply memorising notes is never enough, and practice questions can show you what kind of questions to expect during the exam and ensure that you aren’t caught off-guard. If your problem lies more with time management, try timing yourself when doing practice papers and work out methods to keep within the time limit.
- Stay in contact with your friends and help out each other
These are trying times, but ultimately, your friends will always accompany you in this journey. Whether it is that late-night motivational talk or buying them an energy drink, we urge all Eunoians to practice beautiful thinking and goodwill to all. Emotions may run high, but please try to understand each other. Continue the conversation, and be ready to give the comfort or assistance your friends need.
Fear not. Though the wall ahead is a tall, tall one, it is one that you are meant to climb. These will be trying times in the days leading up to the exams and we hope our tips will give you the edge you need to achieve your dream grade.