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How to make an effective exam hall strategy?

After long studies, night-outs (with maggi), discussion sessions with every guy in the class, you are finally in the exam hall. They are giving out the question papers. A clock hangs ominously on the wall, looking at you. This is a defining moment. Exams have been won and lost at this point exactly. Fear not, we give you a few mistakes that amateurs do that costs them precious marks. In this article, we bring you tips on how to make an effective exam hall strategy for yourself.


Work on your arithmetic – adding and multiplying

This is obvious. Every second matters. A great deal of mental effort and time goes in small small calculations. Reduce the time, and increase the accuracy of your calculations.

Innovation is not a good thing

Again, innovation could be a good thing outside the exam hall.

This means more preparation for different scenarios before you enter the hall. This also means you plan things better before you enter the hall. What happens if you forget a formula? Could you derive it from other sources? If yes, try to do this before the exam. Doing this for the first time during exams is not advisable.

Don’t attempt new techniques and mathematical shortcuts for the first time in the exam hall; if the technique is flawed, you lose a lot of marks. A complete no-no as far as exam hall strategy is concerned.

Last minute preparation does not help.

This may seem counter-intuitive but as Sherlock says, ‘Our mind has a limited amount of space.’ One hour before the exam is your deadline to close the books. While opinions may vary, we think it is okay to discuss and talk about the concepts. But this usually leads to violating the rule of not preparing in the last minute because students panic when they hear something new and end up tearing through their books in panic.

During the exam

The clock is your friend.

Time, though a scary concept especially in the exam hall, is actually an advantage if you use it wisely. A person who has attended every class in every semester and has solved every question from guides, and textbooks, and extra materials (Irodov :p) can be beaten if you use your time more effectively.

What this means is that you specifically train to time manage.

Deconstruct the question paper

This is the vital part that many skip. The exam paper, believe it or not, is designed to look scary. Images after images, long equations, some table of data – sigh. Unless you learn to tame the beast, you will end up being the one tamed.

Scan the paper. Read the questions. Visualize a flow chart of the solving, but don’t go into the details. Move on, next question. When you do this, you will find that most equations and tables are usually extraneous gimmicks that are actually simple. But with five minutes on the clock, the mind fumbles and lags much like a processor that cannot handle the load.

Bend linearity

What we mean is to reorganize the question in your mind, into the simple, medium, and difficult questions. Or better, use an alphabet to classify them – ‘a’ for simple, ‘z’ for hard, and a ‘p’ for medium difficulty.

Intuition says, attempt the easy questions first, and this is logical. There are marks that everyone should get, and hence the reason for being easy. Of course, one may encounter difficult questions with more marks, but you could always circle back later.

Avoid foresight

Foresight, or in other words, thoughts about the future are NOT a welcome part of exam hall strategy. Foresight is a valuable tool in other endeavors but no, not the exam hall.

Marks, grades, and ranks are not terms that should cross your mind. Questions, 5th one, 2nd one, and the last one, and how you are going to attempt them, which concept, which formula, how to recheck the answers – that’s what you should be thinking.

Avoid phasing out

This could happen because of fatigue, of the body or of the mind. The former is something you take care before coming to the exam by sleeping well and eating well. The latter is something you control during the exam. Being dejected and losing confidence, then thinking about alternate career opportunities is a sure way to failure. Think about questions, think about answers. Nothing else.

Let go

A high-scorer is like a Tai Chi expert. If you haven’t heard of Tai Chi, it is a martial art that involves a great deal of flexibility. When the exam throws difficult questions at you, do not be fazed. Let it go, that’s the job of the exam. It’s your job to move on.

You thought it was a simple question, but it’s not? That’s okay, let it go. Next.

As Bruce Lee says, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

Indeed. Be water, my friend, be water.

Sherlock saying doesn’t seem counter intuitive, usually, there are sayings that say that the mind power is limitless and that we can do as much as want to. It’s counter-intuitive to that.

This was all that you needed to know for preparing a good exam hall strategy. All the best!

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