The CBSE system is very clear and structured. There is a prescribed syllabus, transparent marking system, relative importance, sample papers, all of which makes it relatively easy to prepare. Providing of course, that you know all of this and prepare properly.
Understand the pattern
All tests have patterns. In the case of CBSE for example, these patterns are published and are shared across many sites including the NCERT site.
The general approach followed is available at http://www.cbse.nic.in/examin~1/scheme06ex.htm
Specific syllabus for all classes are available to download at http://www.ncert.nic.in/rightside/links/syllabus.html
From this, there are two valuable pieces of information. First, use chapter marks to decide the priority in which you will do the chapters. And second, books may cover a bit more or less than the syllabus, so some additional text may be useful. In the case of CBSE, the NCERT books are mapped exactly.
In addition, view the sample paper. The sample paper will show you the marks for each section, and if there are options available. This structure does not change. Where there are options, these are frequently from a limited set of chapters; so it is possible to study selectively.
Review past papers
Past papers are available both in shops and from specific sites. In fact, there are papers available from some schools as well.
Most schools have a pretty good idea of the kind of questions that are likely to come; based both on the pattern of the paper itself and across years – some questions come every x years for example. Seeing papers from other schools can be similar to what you will get.
Do some mock tests
Even when you know the answer to all questions, you may have problems with time or with concentration. A mock test is an evaluation of your preparation for the test coming up. It is very different from doing practice questions
Mock tests should feel as close to the real test as possible. Use a paper you have not seen before (perhaps the previous years paper). Use the full time at one go. So if it is a 3 hour paper, make sure you have a window of 3 hours where you will not be disturbed. Do it at a place with a table and chair. And finally, have someone else correct the paper – even if it is a friend.
Time yourself based on marks. A typical CBSE SA paper will have 90 marks to be completed in 3 hours. That means that you have approx 2 minutes per mark. A 4 mark question should be solved in 8 minutes
Using the results
Use the mock test to understand both your ability to keep to time and your knowledge of the subject. Go back over the paper and recall where you spent the most time and why. Do the same with questions where you did not know the answer.
Typically it is advisable to do at least two mock tests to prepare. Depending on importance, sometimes, 5-7 mock tests can give the best results.
Do the right things at the right time
The way to approach studying should change as you get closer to a test or exam.
When you have enough time, focus on the important chapters. Read your material carefully, and practice diligently. When you are stuck, make sure someone helps you with your doubts, whether its your school teacher or tutor.
As you come closer to the exam, try and use worksheets that have a few questions from each chapter. Work at solving them. Tag things you don’t understand and move on. Every day, try and have one session that resolve any questions you have that day.
The day before the exam, review materials. The focus now should be more on memory and to refresh patterns of solving questions. Read the summary. Read your notes. Look at some solved past papers. Do not try to learn new content at this time.
Develop memory aides
Today, being able to memorize is an important attribute for scoring well in your exams. And not everyone is blessed with a good memory. It is important to build mnemonics to help remember things. Draw pictures and label them. Make charts and tables. Search on the internet for easy ways to remember something.
Make your memory aides early in the academic year. As you get closer to your exams, re-read these aids and commit them to memory
Talk to friends
It is important to study without distraction, but it is also important to keep your motivation up. One of the best ways to do that is to have a set of friends (upto 3) who you are in touch with regularly and you all share what you are doing, challenges and plans.
The maximum number of friends is also important. There is a balance between motivation, sharing and wasting time. Too many friends invariably lead to time being wasted.
The nature of our brain is such that our minds tend to wander after a while. So while studying it is important to do it actively.
If you find yourself re-reading something repeatedly, your mind is wandering and you are not actively reading. Some methods that help are reading out aloud, or making summary notes (not the same as just copying). These activities force you to read actively, and is a better use of your time.
A final word
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