Preparing for a competitive exam is like preparing to climb a tall mountain. Every single step counts! Students take a lot of pressure during their preparation as if they succeed, the direction of their career will change for good. Even if you study hard, there are still chances of making silly mistakes that can lower your exam score. This article focuses on highlighting the common mistakes students make while preparing for competitive exams, so they don’t make those mistakes.
Five things to avoid while preparing for competitive exams
Given below are the five things that every student should avoid while preparing for any competitive exams:
1. Relying on external factors
While preparing for competitive exams, you must realise that your exam scores and performance depends upon your own hard work. It will be your dedication and zeal towards preparation that will yield good results. The only person you should rely on is yourself. Many students depend on external factors for motivation and inspiration. When they fail to get it from outside sources, they lag. Be your own inspiration. When you feel demotivated, think of the time in your career when you performed exceptionally well. Think of the steps that led you to that victory and repeat those for your present exam. You will realise that you don’t even need other people to light up that spark inside you. You are enough for yourself! That does not mean you should not ask for help from your loved ones, but the first thrust should come from within.
2. Only thinking and not executing
Many students keep making timetables and thinking about how they will study day and night to crack the exam. But unfortunately, that moment does not come. They keep contemplating and procrastinating until the exam is literally knocking on the door. If you want to perform well in competitive exams, be a doer, not a thinker. Rely on executing your plans, not just formulating those. There is no better time to get serious about your preparation than now!
3. Getting distracted by vast study material
There is a hoard of study material available in the market for every competitive exam. A huge amount of study material is available online as well these days. Therefore, students tend to buy many books. They keep skipping from one book to another and fail to stick to a single source. This leads to chaos and confusion and hampers their preparation to a great extent. Some students buy a single study resource after researching, but if their friends or fellow aspirants suggest another source, they leave the one they are pursuing and start looking at the one suggested. This also leads to frustration. The best thing to do is to research the most recommended study material and follow that to the end. You need to realise that it is humanly impossible to read whatever study material comes your way. Be smart and trust your resources.
4. Wasting time while studying
Have you ever tracked how many hours you study a day and how many hours of that time you actually “study”? If you do so, you might be surprised. This is because most students do not fully concentrate on their studies at their study table. There are so many distractions all around. If a student studies for 8 hours, it is very likely that they spent 2-3 hours checking on their messages, having telephonic conversations with friends, and browsing the internet. Only 5-6 hours of that time would be spent actually studying. If you want to succeed in competitive exams, you must concentrate on your studies completely when it’s time to study. While you are wasting your time here and there on social media, other aspiring students are studying. There is a very good chance they might leave you behind in the competition.
5. Studying hard but not smart
Have you ever heard your seniors complaining about how hard they studied for the exam you are studying for but failed to crack it? Well, the complaints are more common than you realise. This is because competitive exams demand something more from you than just studying hard. Studying smart is as important as studying hard when it comes to competitive exams. With an enormous syllabus and limited amount of time, only the students who know which parts of the syllabus are the most important and will fetch them the highest marks succeed. If you keep on studying hard but ignore the highest-yielding parts of the syllabus, there is a very good chance that you won’t succeed. Another mistake students make is that they keep on postponing solving previous year’s papers and mock tests until the last minute. The result is that they cancel practising altogether due to the shortage of time and face the consequences in the exam hall.
List of Dos and Don’ts while preparing for competitive exams
1. Work hard
Competitive exams are not like board exams. Just learning everything at the last minute would not be of any help. To succeed, you must formulate smart strategies and follow those till the end. If you listen carefully to the toppers’ interviews, you will find one thing in common. More than working hard, they relied on working smart. Also, they followed their plan till the end.
2. Stay motivated
Preparing for a competitive exam is like preparing to face a battle. As the syllabus is vast, you must stay motivated to complete it. Getting that urge to study for one day and not studying for seven days straight won’t get you that dream score. Only if you are motivated to put yourself to studying every day or at least on most days of the week will you succeed.
3. Revise everything
No matter how much you studied and how many books you mugged up during your preparation time, if you do not retain that knowledge and recall that in the exam hall, it will all be a waste of time. When there is a lot of information to remember, students usually forget the topics they studied a while ago. The best way to face this problem is to revise whatever you studied. There is a scientific reason behind the benefits of revising your syllabus. When you learn something new for the first time, your brain forms a memory of it and stores it in a memory centre called the neocortex. This type of memory is short-term memory and is susceptible to forgetting. On the other hand, when you revise something you have learned before, your brain stores the memory related to it in the brain’s memory hub called the hippocampus. This type of memory is long-term and is less susceptible to forgetting. This is how revisions help you to a great extent without you even realising it.
1. Do not give up
You had a plan; you intended to follow it till the end when something negative happened in your life and distracted you for a few days or weeks. After you recover, you find that a lot of time has passed unproductively, and you just feel like giving up. You feel like you can’t finish the syllabus now as your perfect plan has flopped. What you need to realise is that not everyone’s perfect plans work. Life is not a bed of roses for most people, but they put themselves together and keep marching toward the goal. Even toppers struggle during their preparation but what leads them to success is that they stay strong, pull themselves together, and refocus on the goal.
2. Do not do all-nighters on the week before the exam
Most students have lots of parts of the syllabus left before the exam. In an attempt to grasp the concept, they stay up all night on the days before the exams without realising that it is affecting them adversely. It is ok to take pressure before the exam and is a natural reflex. But it would be best if you were careful not to let the pressure overwhelm you and affect your health. The best thing to do is to revise everything you have studied and have adequate sleep on the days before the exam. This will refresh your senses, which in turn will help you perform better on the exam.
3. Do not study at a stretch
If you plan to study for 5-6 hours at a stretch, it is very possible that you will get exhausted and not be able to focus on the information in front of you. Keeping your brain focused on something for very long is quite challenging. On the other hand, if you study for, say, 20-25 minutes, take a five-minute break, and repeat the process, it will be more productive for you. This is because it is easier to keep your brain alert and motivated for shorter periods of time.
Preparing for competitive exams and cracking those successfully can be challenging, but it is not impossible. If you act smartly and keep the points mentioned above in mind during the course of your preparation, you will definitely pass with flying colours. All the best!
1. What are some exam day tips?
Given below are the exam tips that everyone should follow:
- Refer to the rules and dress code instructions for the exam beforehand and follow those to avoid hassle later.
- Assemble all the documents you need to take to the exam hall a day before the exam.
- Reach the exam hall well before time.
- Have a filling and scrumptious breakfast on the day of the exam.
- Wear comfortable clothes so that you do not feel distracted during the exam.
- Stay confident and trust your preparation. Even toppers feel their preparation is not upto the mark before the exam. The feeling is natural, but do not let it overwhelm you.
2. How to avoid procrastinating?
Below is a list of pointers that you can follow to avoid procrastination:
- If you are preparing for an exam, it is likely that you are working towards a goal. Remember that goal whenever you feel like giving up, and know that the small steps you are taking today will lead you to that goal.
- Follow a timetable with set targets. Train your brain into thinking that no matter what, you need to hit the target of the day. When you get habitual, you will feel restless until you do not achieve that target.
- Do not keep your phone in the same room where you study. Calls from friends and social media notifications might distract you.
- If you use an electronic device for your studies, do not download social media or entertainment apps on it. The notifications might distract you when studying.
- Reward yourself when you achieve small goals. It is a mind game to keep you motivated and coming for more.
3. What is the OK4R technique of studying?
OK4R is a technique of studying that was given by Dr. Walter Pauk. It is aimed to help you retain your syllabus for a longer time. Its components are overview, key ideas, reading, recall, reflection, and revision.
4. Why is a last-minute study ineffective?
Lots of students try to memorise study material at the last minute of the exam. This is a very ineffective practice as it is difficult to recall topics memorised in a hurry and are forgotten easily. The best strategy to follow is to be serious about the studies from the beginning of the preparation so that you finish the syllabus in time and have enough time left for revision.
5. What are the study tips for competitive exams?
Here are some tips to ace competitive exams:
- Start studying early so that the syllabus is over in time and enough time is left for revisions.
- Make a practical timetable and follow it.
- Do not forget to revise everything you study
- Solve sample papers and previous year’s papers.
- Attend mock tests to test your knowledge
- Do not procrastinate. Study every day.
- Make well-organised and precise notes.
- Have adequate sleep and eat healthy meals.
- Be confident in your preparation.
- Do not be afraid to face failures.