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Exam preparation is key


The May-June period marks among other things, a period of careful testing of many students in local, regional and international exams at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. I am convinced that most students fail to do well because of poor examination preparation techniques. Most students who are unsuccessful are usually traduced and castigated as being wayward, uncaring about their future, procrastinators and simply worthless. This is far from correct.{{more}} There are many students who are well intended, who study for long hours and possess a great sense of pride in the prospects of achieving but simply do not do well because of out dated modes of studying and researching techniques.

According to Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” The level of preparation needed must be strategic, pointed and carefully executed. This quotation by Benjamin Franklin when taken to its logical conclusion shows that it is readily applicable to almost any given life situation. Simply put, if you do not prepare adequately, or choose not to get ready for the particular purpose or event which you should, the chances of being unsuccessful are greater and consequently the chances of achieving success would diminish.

Most of us can identify with such a process as we have been at some point in our lives and perhaps still are students. In particular, the students who will be doing the 2007 Common Entrance Examinations (CEE) that are looming around the corner are in the spotlight. The excitement and anticipation of their parents and families at times supersedes their own as issues of secondary school of preference is hammered into the mind at school, home and play. This often casts a shadow on the significance of adequate preparation by the students and the real encouragement needed to do well.

Thanks to our system of Universal Access to Education, more students are given the opportunity to access education at a secondary level far greater than ever before. Now that we have the opportunity we must ensure that we do well in our exams. For the secondary and tertiary level students, most would have had their feet well accustomed to the examination room by experience garnered over the years, on the other hand some have never been able to overcome the extreme levels of anxiety that can be induced by exams.

Coming up with a study system that works for you does not have to be complex. Principally, make an outline of what it is that you need to study, breaking the outline into subtopics and studying each one until you understand it before moving on to the next subtopic are all parts of the general coordination. Be sure to clarify any confusing topic with someone. One tip to make information memorable is to repeat it, read it, write it, explain it and ask questions about it. Using rhymes and humor can be a powerful memory trigger as well. When you find the system that works best for you then that method of studying must be constantly practiced so that you can build on its strengths and ensure that you erase the weaknesses. Through constant practice your methodology will be greatly enhanced.

The days of watching countless hours of nothing on television, playing video games and studying for an exam on the bus to school are over. That method might work for you some of the time, but it is totally unreliable and should be avoided at all costs. Nothing must be substituted for properly planned and structured examination preparation. Therefore preparation has to begin long before the first day of examinations. Firstly, having a study timetable and sticking to it is fundamental. It gives you a sense of direction, creating a much needed balance in a period that could be stressful and nerve wracking. Two to three hour periods daily allocated to examination preparation weeks in advance is the recommended approach for any student.

Some other proven suggested tips are: flashcards to help to memorize facts; group work which is good to work through difficult material; early review sessions as last minute reviews sometimes cause needless confusion; tutors throughout the year as at the last minute only fosters aggravation and panic and in our technologically advanced age the internet plays a critical role.

Early preparation is vital, however it can bring you little returns if you fail to follow through with the correct study and exam environment in the last nights and hours leading up to examination day. You should avoid attending large events in the few days before final exams. These events can prove to be very distracting and should be avoided. Moderate exercise is also advised since it has proven to be an extremely effective means of stress relief. Your diet the night before the exam and throughout the examination period must be carefully selected. At this stage you should stick with the foods that you are accustomed to and avoid any adventures in your diet. Parents are asked to be extremely supportive of their children’s efforts whether it be to allow them to forgo many of the time consuming chores in home or by a parent providing extra attention and comfort. Your role as a parent is very critical during the preparation for exams.

Lastly, but certainly of preeminence is that you should ensure that you place the exams in the hands of God. King Solomon instructs us in Proverbs 3:5-6, that you must not lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.” Best wishes to all our nation’s 2007 Common Entrance students and all those taking other examinations during this period.