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Learned While Preparing for Exams

Time Management –

My schedule during exams started at 6 am, ran through the day till 10 pm. In between, I scheduled lots and lots of breaks and naps to ease my mind; so I could refresh myself and then concentrate better on the study material. This skill had been imparted in me only because of the fact that I had to study for exams.

Depending on our course-work, my entire schedule was planned a couple of days earlier because I feared the lack of enough time. Funnily enough, I had ample time for each course in the time period between each exam, which was the result of the schedule I’d planned.

Creativity –

I’m sure most of you have had that “holy shit!” idea while studying for an exam which is only two days away. You can’t get your mind off it, but you can’t afford to lose study time thinking about the idea.

Here’s what I did to deal with the creative surge AND to keep up with your study schedule – Allocate around 30 minutes to think about your idea. It could be anything. I’ve had ideas for novels, for startups, and music. Brainstorm with yourself about this idea for 30 minutes to figure out whether it is feasible or not. After that, you’ll be less excited about it, or your fear for the exam will take over and make you study 30 minutes extra.

In fact, I had the idea to write this article during an exam, and I’m writing this on the day before an exam! ( just for half an hour )

When you try to distract yourself from the idea, you end up thinking about it more and more. For the ones that don’t have any ideas, you’re both lucky and unlucky!

Optimal Planning –

If you’re an academic person and you love studying ahead in time, then you’ve nothing to worry about. There is no optimal planning required. For the ones that procrastinate, optimal planning strategies are a life saver.

Imagine you have 2 days to study for an exam, and the maximum marks is 100. You have all the study material with you; you also have the questions which were frequently asked in the previous exams. Now you know which topics are to be prioritized. Even if you can’t prepare for 100 marks, you will create strategies to study as much as you can, and as fast as possible.

If you replaced studying with some industrial work in the previous paragraph, it effectively becomes a business model for that industry!

Handling Pressure –

An exam may last for 2 weeks, or maybe 3. Some students might be relaxed about it, but some face a lot of pressure and start to panic.

Handling pressure isn’t an innate skill; it comes with practice. You don’t learn to handle the pressure; you just get used to it. You might learn ways to reduce that pressure, such as taking naps, or going out for a jog; but you can’t get rid of it.

Being anxious about serious events is normal for everyone out there; but to deal with it effectively requires repeated exposure to such ordeals.

The Value of Time –

Most of the days, I used to disregard time and treat it as an abundant resource. This “abundant” resource was severely cut short and I noticed it slip out of my hands during exams. I had to make use of every minute preparing for exams, and there was simply no time to even think about time as abundant in any sense.

If your study plan is rigorous, then you will appreciate time as an important resource. This must be the case in general, rather than realizing it multiple times foolishly.

Creating Innovative Strategies –

There were a couple of topics in a couple of courses that required mugging stuff up. This isn’t something I’m good at; so I devised a method to learn the topics as an entire Game of Thrones story, using keywords as mnemonics. As long as I remembered the story I made up, I remembered the topics. It goes against the whole point of having exams in the first place, but I’d have failed that course if I didn’t do that!

Similarly, there are multiple strategies that you can come up with if you’re desperate to get through a course, and that is a benefit to you when you apply that mentality to solve real world problems.