Some Exam Tips

Exams are around the corner. Many of you must be burning the mid-night oil. The nights of group study that I did with my friends, are moments that turned into pleasant memories which remain treasured for life. As you approach your exams, here are some tips.

There are three qualities that go into meticulous preparation.

Firstly, it is your ability to organize the material in your head. Start with making a mind map of the syllabus. Gradually expand the mind map with details in a hierarchical fashion. Usually, what looks very simple at one level suddenly becomes vague at the next level of detail. This is what I call as “illusion of knowledge”. Kill the illusion of knowledge by continuously seeking examples. Look at several problems to apply your knowledge. Verify if your answer is correct.

Secondly, it is your tenacity to do that tiny bit more than your peers. Last minute preparation limits you. Yet, your age and energy gives you the necessary stamina to put long hours with strong focus. Someone told me, if there is one skill to teach, teach your kid the ability to focus. There is Afghanistan threatening India not on battlefield but on the cricket ground. Perhaps we won’t worry as much if it was battlefield. Anushka Sharma keeps coming in the news just to spoil our focus on exams. The distractions are too many. Learn to focus.

Finally, know that there is one part of your brain which takes care of abstract thinking. All of us can understand when concrete examples are thrown at us. Generalizing from concrete examples is an art by itself. Consider a complicated C program thrown at you. For a small input, you can trace and figure out the output. But, you need to now generalize your finding to a larger input by way of abstract thinking. You need to connect few theoretical dots to get there. This requires special training which only aptitude problems (see RS Agarwal’s book) and continuous practice can give you. At the end of the day, all you need to know is how to handle 6 pieces (Rook, Knight, Bishop, King, Queen and Pawn) to beat Viswanathan Anand in Chess. You know, knowledge is not enough. Same is true with any exam. Do not settle for surface knowledge. It is that one inch deeper that you choose to dive which will find you the beautiful pearl of knowledge on the exam floor.

All said and done, cracking exams is a fairly easy art. It takes very few attempts at exams to know the tricks. Hence, we all know that exams are not fool-proof and grades are to be taken with caution. So, do not give too much importance to the result. Just enjoy the learning experience. Execute with as much perfection as you can. Have fun. Good luck with your exams.


Author: Venkatesh Vinayakarao

Researcher, Computer Science.

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