During exams small things deserve utmost attention

Yesterday the national examinations for Senior Three and Six candidates kicked off across the country. Since other classes broke off for their holidays last week, the candidates have the schools to themselves.  Usually, after the usual end of year school parties and “Bonne Chance” exchanges, each candidate has to prove himself or herself on the examination script. I remember during my school days, before the exams would start, our head teacher always told us to strive to do our best for “only the best was good enough.” Nothing sums up the seriousness of an examination better.
Students in a discussion after the first examination paper at Groupe Scolaire de Giporoso yesterday.The New Times / J. Mbanda
Students in a discussion after the first examination paper at Groupe Scolaire de Giporoso yesterday.The New Times / J. Mbanda

Yesterday the national examinations for Senior Three and Six candidates kicked off across the country. Since other classes broke off for their holidays last week, the candidates have the schools to themselves.

Usually, after the usual end of year school parties and “Bonne Chance” exchanges, each candidate has to prove himself or herself on the examination script. I remember during my school days, before the exams would start, our head teacher always told us to strive to do our best for “only the best was good enough.” Nothing sums up the seriousness of an examination better.

With our education systems heavily reliant on one’s performance in a three-hour evaluation on what has been taught for several years, it is important that everything goes in plan. Due to the extreme importance attached to these exams, small details are amplified by the fact that what seems insignificant may turn out to be the spoiler of the moment.

You do not want years of preparation to be ruined by a ‘small’ thing like weather. Therefore, those attending day schools should think about umbrellas so as not to be outdone by the ever-surprising weather patterns.

A smart student should ensure that he/she has all the necessary scholastic materials for the exam. I know in some cases it may be permissible to borrow a calculator or a ruler from a neighbour but you may not realise how this slows you down during a timed examination.

Always carry more than one pen and be sure that they are all working before you enter the examination room. Imagine having only one pen and it suddenly stops writing and the one you manage to borrow is not even of the same colour as the one you were using before.

In order to ensure that all goes well during examinations, it is important for you not to play around with your diet. Some parents may think they are doing their children a favour by changing their diet during examination time without considering the possible trouble that may result from a stomach upset. 

Likewise, you should not be starving while doing the exams as this too will be a problem. I have seen students disturbed by stomach upsets during exams, something that often causes them to lose a lot of precious time besides the discomfort.

General health is much more crucial at this time. Any signs of sickness should not be ignored. This is because such signs or symptoms usually get aggravated in an examination environment of tension and, in this case, where candidates have to sit for long hours.

Those with chronic ailments should remember to take their medication so as not to have their examination sessions interrupted. In some cases, it will be wise to inform the examination officials of a student’s medical complications before anything goes amiss.

During the examination, more attention should be accorded to things like writing your name and registration details well. Reading and understanding the questions before answering is a must. All this seems small but it is big enough to ruin your efforts.

Just in case you finish before time, remember that there are no extra marks for that. Instead of sitting and staring at the ceiling, why not go through your work to ascertain that you have answered as expected and left no mistakes before submitting your script. With exams nothing should be left to chance however small it may appear.

It should also be pretty obvious that indulging or even attempting to indulge in any form of examination malpractice will simply spoil everything. Steer clear of such machinations. And of course you must follow all the instructions governing the exams. This is not the time to be naughty. Do what you have to do and hope for the best.

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