You feel miserable. Every word won’t sink in. Panic clouds your mind. Exams can make us sick, but not for a few.
Certainly, cramming is not the best option though; it can even worsen your performance due to information overload. Overload occurs when too much data jam your brain beyond its power to manage, given the time constraint. The likelihood of retrieving information being blocked is big once you cram this way-thus the cliché “mental block”.
During hell days, the last minutes you spend are just as critical as the days of preparation. Here are my helpful tips I recollected from my experiences:
1. If the proctor is nice enough to let you prepare within at least 5 minutes, whether express or implied, recite your way down your memory lane. When retrieving information from memory, prefer mental and oral, rather than writing. Writing can have a disadvantage during essay exams, it may push you unconsciously to write and leave your effort to mercy, even though you’re not hitting the point, on a second thought. Also, oral retrieval boosts your confidence and morale. Retrieving orally lets you focus as you listen to yourself while you murmur. Just don’t make it annoying to your seatmates. Making easier retrieval strategies is way more intelligent than reviewing and rereading in a compulsive repetition. But, of course, what are you rehearsing if your mind is empty?..You’re dead with guns without bullets! So, at least possess these bright tactics and tips as your preparations:
2. Develop skill and appreciation in writing your notes. Unlike your grade school years, you should be writing based on what you have understood. So, you have to load up learning in real-time, and put it in a nutshell. Be quick in scribbling down notes. Before you even write, first, listen and get the major point. When the teacher takes long in elaborating ideas, through examples and storytelling with your classmates, you knew it’s time to put down the whole point. Discourage yourself from transcribing all the paragraph, or group of sentences you see on the power point presentation. Think first, and analyze if the statements contribute to the thesis of the topic, title, chapter, and the subject. Discriminate writing of notes is much wiser, effective, and spares your time and energy in the future. If you feel you got lost in doldrums during lectures, be guided by the title of the topic or lesson.
3. There’s no rule of thumb that applies to all type of exams across academic subjects. Math 101, College Algebra and Trigonometry, Natural Science, Physics, Psychology, History, Social Sciences, Management 101, Marketing, Law subjects-still so many that you can’t manage in a single portfolio. But, you can categorize them intelligently with your multi-pronged strategy. Natural science and history needs a conscious memorization, since the theories, taxonomy, events in history may be too strange, not unless you’ve mastered them during your formative years. Psychology and social sciences are more interesting because they are based on experiential knowledge, and you’ll easily understand the theories because it’s talking of your human behavior, which you are sane and capable enough to have been aware of. Management and marketing subjects also deal with concepts and theories relevant to the study of humans as a bigger group. These fields of knowledge have to be articulated in a jargon to sound more academic and accurate. Not unless you get to appreciate the technical words being used, you would have difficulty in delivering the essential ideas which build up the structured concept. Here, effective communication in a medium of language being used makes the separator between the good and average.
4. Concept map. A good tool to retrieve the knowledge from your memory is a conceivable concept tree. This makes an exhaustive and organized outline of the points you won’t have to mess up with during essay type of exams.