Competitive exams are a tough nut to crack. With number of aspirants growing at astronomical speeds and limited seats in premiere institutions, competitive in India are the perfect embodiment of cut-throatism. Investing in immersive preparation with the right kind of tools to aid you is the only way to secure success. Whether you are preparing for IIT-JEE, NEET, CA entrance exams or UPSC, here are a few preparation tips and tricks that’ll help bolster your chances of success:
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Condition Your Mind to Study:
Not being able to focus on the study material in front you despite trying your best is a feeling every student can associate with. However, when preparing for competitive exams, whiling away precious time is a luxury you can ill-afford. A classic physiological experiment can come to your rescue here. As part of this experiment, a Russian physiologist chose dogs as his subjects and rang a bell every time food was served to the canines. Soon, the dogs started salivate just by hearing the bell ring, associating its sound with arrival of food. This experiment is a telling tale of the extent to which brains can be conditioned. Applying that logic to your study pattern, if you sit down to study at the same time and place every day, your brain will get trained to focus on studying. You will find your concentration levels improving remarkably over a period of time, and it’ll take you no longer than 5-10 minutes to get immersed in learning, your liking for the subject notwithstanding.
Follow the OK4R Approach:
This method was devised by Dr Walter Pauk, a pioneer in the field of development education. According to this approach, when preparing for competitive exams, you must divide your learning into six steps:
- Overview: Where you just glance through headings, sub-heads, and summaries to grasp what a topic or chapter entails.
- Key Ideas: Skimming through a topic to get a sense of the key ideas presented therein, paying attention to anything that’s bold, highlighted, italicised, or broken into bullet points.
- Reading: Reading through the content of a topic thoroughly.
- Recall: Putting your reference material aside and jotting down what you have understood about the topic.
- Reflect: Trying to make associations with what you have just learnt and your existing knowledge of other topics. This co-relation not only enhances your understanding of the topic but also enriches your answers on it.
- Revise: After a gap of some days, revisit the topic and revise it thoroughly to embed the information in your mind for good.
Ditch the Rote Learning Habit:
One of the inherent flaws of our education system is the emphasis on rote learning methods, or mugging up texts, and reproducing them as it is in examinations. However, this approach will not help you achieve your goals in competitive exams, where questions are often twisted to assess a candidate’s core understanding of subject. Therefore, your focus should be developing an in-depth understanding of concepts so that you can handle even the trickiest of questions.
Refer to eBooks or Internet for Information:
Since competitive exams are not about your individual performance but about how well you perform vis-a-vis others, it is important to add that extra edge to your preparedness. eBooks and the online space are a gold mine of information that can help in improving your level of understanding and the quality of your answers, thus, providing you a much-needed head start.
Find a Mentor:
Most students turn to organised coaching institutes for help while preparing for competitive exams. While it is the trend, it is not a pre-requisite for cracking competitive. Even so, you must have someone who can guide you at every step of the way, be it a teacher, a parent, elder siblings or someone who has already succeeded in the competitive exam that you are preparing for.
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Self-Assessment is Crucial:
Putting your preparation to test every now and then is crucial for getting a realistic grip on where you stand. In schools and colleges, class tests, assessments and mid-term exams do this for you. However, when preparing for competitive exams, you have to rely on self-assessment to gauge your progress. Set up an exam-like scenario and attempt mock paper or sample question papers at least once a week to understand where you have improved and identify areas that need more work.
In the end, always be mindful of the fact that there is no substitute to hard work and stress will take you nowhere.