So, who’s afraid of March?
I know I was.
Because March means Board Exams!
You wonder how to stay focused for cbse boards despite the distractions around.
You revise and revise and revise, and still, nothing seems to work for you.
It’s kind of scary, isn’t it?
Well, I have some consolation for you. You’re not alone feeling this way. Most of the students feel the same (even the bookworms with shiny golden spectacles) when board exams are around the corner. Fortunately, there are ways to beat the exam anxiety and score good marks in board exams without losing sleep.
You see, anxiety is a symptom that you have more items in your ‘To Do’ list that you can handle. But trying to reduce anxiety won’t work. Because the issue is not anxiety, but rather the clutter in your life.
Let me clarify.
All of us have only 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to us how well we utilize those hours. You may spend time on unproductive activities (clutter), or you can utilize your precious time to focus on studies so you could get your best marks in board exams. And how do you do that? Simply by decluttering your life.
Clutter can mean a lot of different things, but for the sake of scoring good marks, we’ll focus on two main categories: Social media, and friends.
Next time, before you open Facebook or Whatsapp, run the stopwatch on your smartphone and notice how much time you spent on socializing.
You don’t even realize how much time has passed by when you’re on social media. It’s kind of addictive. And believe it or not, social media is the biggest time-killer.
Have you ever thought what do you do on social media by the way?
You browse photos
You check status updates
You read stupid jokes
You surf aimlessly for ‘real’ stuff (which is not there anyway)
Do you really think it’s a wise use of your time? I’ll leave that to you.
There’s nothing wrong with having friends if they really are friends (and not a bunch of losers lurking around to use your Wi-Fi).
Would the people I call “friends” still be with me if I had no Wi-Fi or computer?
If the answer is no, then most probably you’re spending time with some good-for-nothing-fellows. And it’s time to say goodbye to them.
You just marked the clutter in your life that was sucking the life out of you.
Now, it is time to declutter.
Let’s tackle the social media first.
Whatsapp is a major time waster. And if you want to free your time (a lot of it), then you must ask yourself, “Do I really need it on my mobile phone?”
FYI, I had deleted Whatsapp from my phone back in 2015, and guess what, I am still alive (surprise, surprise).
I know the peer pressure can make you feel dumb or backward for not having Whatsapp on your phone. You need to see the look on people’s faces when I tell them I don’t use Whatsapp.
“What? You are not on Whatsapp. Are you serious? How do you stay in touch?”
Well, there’s something called text or message or SMS, every smartphone has it.
Turns out that the people questioning my decision of quitting Whatsapp are themselves tired of it. They want to dump it, but can’t because of the peer pressure.
If you’re in not a position to quit Whatsapp once and for all (I doubt it though because you always have the choice to take control of your time), that’s fine. How about dumping it temporarily (until your board exams got over?)
If you’re serious about scoring your best marks in board exams, you must say goodbye to social media for the time being. Logout of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every the other social media platforms, and before you do that, remember turning off the notifications emails, so you won’t get disturbed while studying.
Let’s Cut Some People…err…I Mean, Clutter
There are some people who take your time for granted. They think they have a right to interrupt your studies.
But the truth is different: There’s no need to oblige such people. Dump the sick mentality that people have the right to disturb you with their problems any time they wish.
Inform them that you’re preparing for board exams and won’t be able to entertain them. Start making a distance. Gradually the time-wasters will fade away.
You’ll feel relaxed after decluttering your smartphone and friends’ list. The good-for-nothing-fellows and the annoying phone notifications will vanish and you’ll have a lot of time to focus on your studies.
Now let’s talk about studies. Here are the points to help you score good marks in board exams.
NCERT Books First, “Refreshers” Later (or How About Never?)
I made this mistake in my 12th class. I didn’t take the time to read NCERT books and relied solely on ‘refreshers.’ Then one day, one of my cousins visited us, (who had topped the board exams in his school days). He was discussing my board preparations. “So, have you completed the NCERT books?”
NCERT books? No. (I was a bit confused)
“What…Why? What are you studying then?”
“Shit…The most important thing to score your best marks in board exams is how well you understand the concepts. And the best way to do that is to study the NCERT books, thoroughly.”
And there I was, staring at his face like a retard.
Now, here’s the thing – I know that as a student, you may have bought the argument that NCERT books are not detailed enough. Maybe that’s true.
But anyone aiming to score his best in the board exams must work to understand the concepts clearly. That’s the basic funda.
And NCERT books do exactly the same – they explain the concept in a clear and concise manner. Yes, you can use refreshers, but only after you’ve mastered the NCERT books.
So, if you haven’t already done so, pick your NCERT book and start reading, which brings us to the next point – How to read a book?
“The Bird’s Eye View” Technique
I know many students read their books thoroughly from the very first reading. I hope you’re not one of them.
What do I mean?
Well, the first reading should be done with “Bird’s eye view technique.”
Just go through the front cover and the back cover and then the index. And then, read the main heading, and the sub-headings of each chapter.
Once you’ve done that, read the chapter in detail. This time, take notes and highlight the main points so you can refer to them later. Once you’re done the reading, re-read the chapter, for the third time. This will help you gain the best understanding of the concept.
Reading a chapter thrice clarifies the concepts better and you can retain the facts and figures accurately. There’s one more technique you need to master, and that is
The Feynman Technique
The basic idea behind this technique is: If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough, which means, if you want to learn something, you should be able to explain it to others in a simple language. There are 4 steps to it…
Step 1. Read and understand the concept.
Step 2. Pretend you’re explaining that concept to a classroom full of students. (This will help you pinpoint the holes in your knowledge).
Step 3. If you find yourself stuck, go back to the chapter and read it again.
Step 4. Repeat Step 2. This time, use simpler language.
And, understating the concepts has a lot to do with how focused you are, which is our next point.
How to Stay Focused
Performing your best in board exams requires you to stay focused. But don’t worry too much about not to get distracted because that will push you off the track.
Remember: Your life energy moves in the direction of your focus.
If you focus on not to get distracted, you will get distracted, because you are focusing on distraction. Instead, focus on staying focused. And how do stay focused? You can stay focused when you…
Complete the Most Difficult Task First
Yes, you need to stop wasting time on trivial things like spending too much time eating breakfast, doing daily chores, or tidying study room.
The good news?
You’re not alone.
Many of us try to avoid things that are most important (and difficult to do, so we keep on delaying them) whenever you catch yourself in such a position, be alert. You’re about to fall into the trap of not accomplishing things that really matter.
The most important thing for you to score good marks in board exams is to focus on studies. So, make sure you study first thing in the morning because after a good night sleep, your mind is relaxed and you can get done more in less time.
Wake up a little early. Drink some water. Walk. Answer nature’s call. Wash your face. And then study for about 2 hours.
There’s no need to bathe or eat. If you do all that, then by the time you’d be done, almost half the day would be over. And you’ll not feel like studying for long.
Complete studies first and keep rest of the things for later. And remember to set goals that are achievable (more info below).
Set Realistic Goals to Score Your Best Marks in Boards
Setting realistic goals can help you score good marks in board exams.
By ‘realistic’ I mean that you must be logical, and not emotional about the studies during the preparation period. Don’t try too hard to complete 10 chapters a day, instead, aim to cover 3-4 chapters.
The danger in setting unrealistic goals is that if you miss by even 1 chapter, you’ll lose trust in your ability to accomplish. And you may not feel like studying at all for the next 2 days. That’s not a good thing.
You want to go steady and keep working and moving ahead every day. You get results for what you do regularly, not what you do once in a while.
Setting realistic goals during board exams (and achieving them) will increase your self-esteem, and will encourage you to achieve a little more the next day. Frequency is the key.
Score Good Marks in Board Exams: Reduce TV Time
There were times when you knew what you wanted to watch even before you turned the TV on, because there were limited channels, and thus, fewer choices).
Times are changing. Now we have set-top boxes and satellite TVs and live TVs and what not! Result? Too many choices. Which means no choice at all. That’s why you have a hard time deciding what to watch.
When you’re uncertain then you don’t watch TV, you just surf channels. And surfing, my friend, is a wonderful, awesome, super – time-wasting activity.
If you want to watch TV, know beforehand which show you’re going to watch. The show’s over, time’s up.
Your one and only priority should be to work hard and do your best in boards.
Be selfish. Focus on your studies. Forget everything else.
Yes, some people might take you for an unsocial or unfriendly person, but what does it matter? It’s your life, and the only person responsible is you.
It’s natural to get bored if you study one subject for too long. The best way to kill the boredom is to mix things up – try switching the subjects.
For instance, if you had been studying Science for the past 2 days, why not switch to English for a day or two. Or, if you were practising Maths sums, try reading some Hindi poetry today, and when you get bored of Hindi too, switch to Social Studies.
You see, the idea is to keep your board exams study schedule interesting and manageable. There’s no need to keep studying the same subject if you don’t feel like it on a particular day.
Nervous About the Board Results?
Do you often repeat, “I am not nervous, I can score good marks in boards?” Guess what, it’s not working. The nervousness does not seem to go away. Rather, the more you fight it, the more nervous you get.
You see, you get nervous when you’re unsure about the future. And it’s true no one can predict what’s going to happen.
Yes, you might fail to score good marks in board exams – many students do. You cannot control the results.
Nervousness is a symptom that you don’t trust yourself. So, the issue is not nervousness, but rather your ability to trust yourself.
How do you trust yourself?
By giving up fighting.
You’ve been fighting with the nervousness. It’s time to stop that. Here’s how:
Sit in a quiet place. Close your eyes. Feel that you’re nervous. Accept it completely. Don’t fight it, don’t try to run away from it. Don’t call it bad or wrong. Just be with it. Become friends with it.
Feel it completely, and surrender to it.
Say to yourself, “I acknowledge I am nervous about the board results. I don’t know if I shall be able to get high marks in board exams. And I know there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Keep your eyes closed and just be a witness to how you’re feeling. Whatever you’re feeling – doubt, fear, insecurity – whatever, just feel it totally.
Give up. Surrender.
Stay with this feeling of surrender. And within a few minutes, the nervousness shall start disappearing – not by your effort, but by your surrender.”
Now, you know what to do whenever you get nervous about the board exams.
Just close your eyes, and surrender. Surrendering will give back you the energy that was being wasted fighting the nervousness.
Try this technique every time you feel nervous. Gradually, the nervousness shall lose the grip it had on you.
Make Time for Fun
Preparing for board exams can make you feel lost and tired at times.
There’s no need to torture you, so, prepare sincerely but also make some time for fun. Here are some ideas:
Go for walk.
Watch a movie.
Spend time with friends.
Play games (or maybe… video games…Huh?)
Spend some time on fun activities – they’ll help you relax so you can study with more energy in the next sitting.
10years is a collection of board exam question papers for the last 10 years. Practice them as much as you could, as it’ll give you a sense of confidence. You’ll know the common pattern CBSE board question papers follow.
Set the timer on your mobile and try to solve one question paper within (or before) the time limit. This will help you fine-tune your writing speed and also the time you spend on each question. You’ll get mentally prepared for your ‘real’ board exams.
Practice Model Sample Papers
Just like 10 years, the CBSE model sample papers are also a good way to practice. The model test papers are similar to ’10years’ except that they are not real question papers. They are like a sample – similar but not the same.
The questions you attempt in model sample papers or 10years are for practice only. Also, be careful not to fall into the trap of ‘Guess papers.’ Nobody can guess exactly which question is going to appear in the question paper when you sit in the examination hall.
Practice model test papers but don’t buy the gimmick that those are the only questions you need to practice. Model test papers are a good way to get the ‘feel’ of the pattern of CBSE board questions papers. That’s it! Nothing more. Also, CBSE changes the board exams question papers pattern from time to time. Make sure you’re aware of the latest pattern issued by CBSE.
Attend Extra Classes to Clear Your Doubts
There’s a saying eat everything but never eat your doubts.
There are only two kinds of people who don’t have doubts – the geniuses, most intelligent ones, and the dumbest ones. For the rest of us – we need to do some work to clear our doubts. And how do you do that? By asking questions.
You can clear your last minute doubts about any concept by attending extra classes. Most of the schools help board students by providing extra classes. If your school happens to be one of them, take advantage of it.
Check the Date Sheet Twice
It happened in 12th board exams that I studied for some other subject than the scheduled one. It was only a day prior I realized the mistake. Fortunately, I’ve had revised enough in advance, so I did well.
Make sure to paste a copy of the datasheet in a place where you can see it often like, the mirror on the dressing table, the refrigerator or on the door of your books almirah. It’s important to know the exact dates of all your exams (subject-wise).
Visit the Examination Centre Once in Advance
Visit your exam centre once before your first board exam.
Familiarize yourself with the route, the bottlenecks, and the reasonable amount of time you’ll need to reach there from your place.
Don’t assume you’ll locate your exam centre with Google maps on the exam day itself. A Google map is handy for sure, but a map is still a map – a collection of lines and images, which at times may be quite different from reality.
Check the Supplies
Nothing could be more frustrating than opening the geometry box on your maths exam day and find no pencil in there. Yes, it can happen. In times of stress (like preparing for board exams) you can forget things. You may assume everything is ready for tomorrow’s exam (and guess what, you may be wrong).
Check everything, I mean everything you need for tomorrow’s exam – pens, pencils, sharpeners, rulers, or anything else you might need.
Never assume. Always confirm.
The Night Before Exam Day
Suppose you had a race in morning at 7 am, would you keep running until 3 am the night before? You won’t because your legs need time to recover from training so they can help you win the race. Just like your body, your mind also needs time to rest and recover to help you solve the question paper next day.
Many students study till late in the night before the exam day, and so, they get very little sleep. As a result, the body and mind get disturbed, and they face a hard time the next morning trying to solve the question paper. They fail to recall even the simplest answers because the mind was tired. Make sure you’re not one such student.
Make sure you focus on studies during exams and study till 6-7 pm. After that, just forget about it.
Go for a walk.
Watch your favourite TV show.
Do something fun.
And then, sleep earlier than usual. Sleep refreshes your body-mind and prepares you for the next day.
Wake up a little early in the morning and revise the main points of the subject. That’s it. Don’t fuss. Don’t’ be anxious.
If you’ve had studied properly in the past 2 months or so, you’d feel comfortable. Anxiety is just an indicator of unpreparedness.
It’s no use stuffing the brain with as much info as possible on the morning of exam day. In such a situation, the best thing would be to stay calm and kind of indifferent to what’s going to happen. A relaxed mind will help you answer better than an anxious one, and eventually will help you score good marks in board exams.
Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes
Want to try new clothes or a pair of new shoes? Great! Just remember not to do that on your exam day. The body needs time to get comfortable with new things.
There’s nothing wrong in wearing a brand new t-shirt for the first time on the exam day except that it can make your skin uncomfortable, and that can distract you from the questions you’re attempting to solve.
Eat a Light Breakfast
Nobody likes a growling stomach. Make sure you eat breakfast before leaving for the exam centre. Breakfast should be light and healthy. Avoid oily foods like Paranthas or Poodis. Oily food is little hard on the stomach and therefore it can make you feel uneasy.
Also, oily food makes you drink more water than usual and that could seriously affect your writing flow in the examination hall. You don’t want to waste the precious time visiting washrooms too often.
Do Remember to Carry the Admit Card
I was in examination hall attempting my BA 1st year question paper. The invigilator asked for my admit card. I unfolded the paper, which I thought to be my admit card, and I was like, “Holy shit! What’s this? ”
That was not the admit card. Oh my god! I had mistakenly carried some useless piece of paper instead of the admit card. I explained to the invigilator and, thank Ram Ji, he allowed me to carry on.
It was a narrow escape; he could’ve barred me from the exam.
Moral of the story: Do remember to carry the admit card (and double check that it is, in fact, your admit card and not some junk paper).
Read the Question Paper from Start to Finish
As soon as you receive the question paper, read it from beginning to end (before you attempt it).
You’ll get a sense of how many answers you know and how many you don’t.
Take a deep breath and attempt the first question you’re confident about.
Attempt only the questions you know really well, first (let’s call it the first phase). And keep the questions you’re not confident about for later (the second phase).
Let’s say you know answers to all the questions except 1 and 7. Don’t waste time figuring out what to write in the answers to those questions, instead move on and answer others questions. That’ll save you a lot of time.
Once the first phase is over, go back to the questions you’re not so sure about.
Now, try to think ways to answer those questions too. Aim to attempt as many questions as you could because that shall help you score maximum marks in board exams.
Create a Separate Column for Rough Work, and Mark it So
There must be a clear distinction between ‘Rough Work’ and the answers. It’s your duty to make sure there’s no confusion between the two.
As soon as you receive the answer sheet, create a separate column (preferably on the right-hand side) using a ruler, for rough work (calculations and ideas) and mark the column ‘R.W.’, or ‘Rough Work.’
This is true for subjects requiring a little extra work, especially Maths and Science.
Mixing answers and rough work on the answer sheet is likely to confuse the examiner, which can negatively affect your plans to score good marks in board exams.
Don’t Let Them Steal Your Dreams
Jealous people demoralize you to feel good.
They know they aren’t competent or smart enough to score good marks in board exams, and they don’t want you to score high either. So what do they do? They steal your dreams by talking negative and putting you down.
Remember, your dream is your most valuable asset. Don’t let anyone steal it. And before they even try, kick them out of your life.
Regular Studies Make the Most Impact
Suppose you eat junk food all the time. 7 days a week, 365 days/year. And once in a while, you eat healthy food. Which would be more impactful? The junk food or the healthy food?
You know the answer.
Now, imagine a friend has invited you to his birthday party. Would that impact your studies? Hell no!
What you do regularly make the most impact, not what you do occasionally (in this case the party). So, go ahead, and enjoy that delicious, creamy, chocolaty cake (hey, save some for me too).
Do you have a pen near you? Grab it. Yes, grab it. Now, just loosen your grip. What happens? It just drops down. Right?
Now grab it again. Take your hand back and then throw it. It drops again, but a little forward. Now, I can almost hear you thinking, “what does it have to do with board exams or even sleep for that matter?”
Well, the point is, you need to get a little backwards so you can move forward in life.
You can study in the morning vigorously if you slept peacefully last night. I have seen many students compromising on sleep. That’s not a good thing baby.
Don’t do this. Balance your studies and sleep.
Study hard so you can sleep tired.
Get sleep so you can study with focus.
It can be challenging to score good marks in board exams but it doesn’t have to be hard. Just be a little more mindful and you’ll be on your way to achieving success. Good luck!
Need more tips? ApnaaHangout.com has some great advice for you to score good marks in board exams.