It is exam time
Ms Leila Abdool Gafoor
The biggest challenge in preparing for exams is procrastination. The best way to curb procrastination is to ensure that you have your weekly, monthly and semester rosters in place so that you are aware of the deadline and submission dates for assignments, projects and semester tests; as well as allocating time for leisure activities.
I know that one’s attention is easily drawn to activities that are pleasurable and the last thing you want to do is sit down and attend to the brain intensive work required for studying. Putting off studying is the biggest disservice you do unto yourself. Procrastination may lead to cramming and the big “A” – ANXIETY. A consequence of cramming is that students report that they hit a blank in semester tests and exams. Hitting a “blank” is a sign of under-preparedness and is a warning that you’re on a path of self-sabotage. You not only become anxious, but may experience depression as you realise you’re at risk of failing. Family expectations to achieve rears its head. Moreover, you’re at risk of losing your scholarship or families may withdraw funding. You are then forced to leave your studies to embark on a career journey that may be limiting and frustrating – the result then is a lack of career satisfaction and earning potential. So, how can we deal with PROCRASTINATION?
· Create a poster depicting where you see yourself in three years’ time. Place it in front of your desk on the wall facing you, so you are constantly reminded what your goal is.
· Keep your year planner on the same wall so you are always aware of your academic activities.
· Never study on your bed – your mind will wonder and you will drift off to sleep.
· Keep your room tidy and your desk organized. Only have the books and journal articles of the subject you are working with on your desk.
· Keep your book shelves behind you and not in front of you as they may overwhelm and distract you further.
· The kitchen can be one of your biggest distractions. I recommend the following:
a. Invest in a flask. Make your coffee or tea beforehand and keep the flask on your desk.
b. If you like to snack while studying, arrange your snacks on the desk so you don’t have to constantly snack and lose focus.
c. Make your lunch beforehand and keep it in the fridge.
· Take sufficient study breaks.
· Take an hour and a half’s rest (sleep) to rejuvenate your energy levels.
· I advise a shower to wake your senses if you still feel sleepy after your rest.
· Keep a study pad on the desk for practicing what you have learnt by making notes.
· Do not regurgitate or study in a parrot-like manner. Do meaningful studying. i.e., understand what you’re reading and apply it by putting it in your own words.
· Keep a dictionary at hand – there may be concepts and words you don’t know and this well help you understand what the author is saying.
· In the test/exam room, take deep breaths and long releases to relax. Read through your paper and start with the sections you feel most prepared for. Write a framework about what you will say on your paper before you start. This will help you track your train of thought in your answer.