One of the most intense moments in schools is examinations period. Many candidates are taken ill during this time and many faint or get seizures in examination rooms. But experts and people speaking from experience say this should not happen. With these tips Ivan Ngoboka gathered, you can excel in your exams;-
Across the country, students have started their end of year examinations while those in the candidate classes will also begin theirs anytime soon. Due to the high degree of importance attached to exams in our education system this period is often a tense one for most students. And this tension if not well managed can be disastrous.
Students have been known to fall into panic attacks when it is time for this evaluation better known as exams. Some even feign sickness when they feel they cannot stand the pressure. Others look for shortcuts and go for malpractices something that usually ends in dismissal or even arrest.
Examinations are part and parcel of the current education system and instead of panicking, students would be doing their best to prepare for the inevitable.
Give yourself enough time to study without having to wait for the last minute to dive into a pile of books that will just confuse you. While some students do seem to thrive on last-minute ‘cramming’, it’s widely accepted that this is quite suicidal as far as exams are concerned.
Set out a timetable for your study. Write down how many exams you have and the days on which you have to sit them. Then organise your study accordingly. You may want to give particular papers more study time than others, so find a balance that you feel comfortable with.
Mariza Maureen, a teacher at King David Academy, says a candidate needs adequate rest to have a fresh mind that can handle the pressure that comes with examinations.
“Try to be well-rested and nourished. Drink plenty of fluids, and eat a good healthy breakfast. The fresher and more energetic you feel, the more it will support your ability to tackle the cognitive challenges ahead,” she says.
You could get hold of past exam papers going back a few years to familiarise yourself with the kind of questions often asked and how they are asked. Don’t assume that these will be the exact questions, but look at the relationship between the questions and course content, says Norman Gabiro, a student of Bachelors of Education at Kigali Institute of Education (KIE).
Pontian Kabeera, a teacher at Essa Nyarugunga Secondary School, advises that motivation is crucial in preparation for exams.
“It should be born in mind that no preparation might yield positive results if you are demotivated, so it’s important to put aside domestic problems, for example, and concentrate on studying for your exams.
While most of us can teach ourselves key concepts and learn through independent reading, it can be wise to get together as classmates and go over what you have learnt over the course of time. Sometimes all one needs is to hear a concept explained in simple language by a fellow classmate.
“Sometimes one student will grasp one section of the course better than another, and having someone to bounce thoughts and ideas off, will benefit everyone involved,” says Maryana Nakagwa, a Senior Five student at Kingstone High School, Rwamagana.
Figuring out what time of day you learn best is a very crucial strategy. Everyone has a different scale with which they learn material, and it is important to figure the best time of the day when you feel you absorb what you are studying. It could be the morning hours, afternoon, evening or even late in the night. What is important is that over the time you have spent as a student you get to identify this time and exploit it to the maximum.
You should also get into the habit of summarising what you have studied. If something complex can be simplified then it most probably has been learnt well. As you go on reading, you should make small summaries that you can look at later and recall the larger concepts.
Outlines make mental retention much easier. Do not kill yourself while studying. It is an important examination but if you read the whole day and night then you may end up missing it if you do not make time for breaks. Take frequent breaks and ensure you get enough sleep.
“I usually make it a point to interrupt my studies with short breaks where I walk around and stretch for at least 15 or 30 minutes. This brief distraction helps me relax just before I can continue with the reading, says Dinah Mutoni, a senior four student at Essa Nyarugunga.
It is important to ensure you have all the necessary requirements before the examinations can begin. Clear all school dues so that you do not have to spend time thinking about such burden. Registering for examinations and having proper school uniform is a must. Do not forget to carry with you the necessary identification documents.
There is an adage that goes, “Change favours the prepared.” It fits this situation. At the end of the day, the successful students are not the intelligent ones, but those who prepare for these examination.
How best do you prepare for examinations?
Sabiti Oluka, accountant. ‘First of all, you should calm down and just free your mind. Get enough rest and prepare psychologically.’
Lillian Umutesi, a teacher. ‘Let your mind focus on that particular paper you are going to do and don’t interrupt your mind with other things especially if it’s not related to what you are going to have to answer in your exam.’
Peter Musoni, chef. ‘You can never be prepared for exams, at least not me, I used to read my books from cover to cover but still I would be nervous. Confidence that you can make it helps a lot.’
James Ndahiro, a teacher. ‘You have to read and research on your part before the exams. In fact one prepares for exams from the first day at school by devoting time to read and understand what he’s taught so that by the time exams arrive, there is no need to rush.’
John Kalema, student. ‘It is important to always do your homework and study hard long before exams. I always read a lot, hold discussions and ask where I feel stuck.’
– Compiled by Irene Nayebare