HURRAY! It’s Exam Time...

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Sunday, February 10, 2019

Dear Kids --- appearing for crucial exams,

I do not like the word 'exam'! Do you? Whether Shakespeare would agree or not, changing the name does change quite a lot. By a simple rearrangement of words and a little change in the way we say it, a big difference can be felt. Just stand straight and raise both hands upwards towards the sky, look up and stretch your lips so as to offer a wide grin to God up there and say it loud: 'Thank God, for this OTP Time!!!'

Yes, isn't it an Opportunity To Prove (OTP) time? An opportunity to express what we know and an opportunity to prove that 'Yes, I can'! Isn’t it a wonderful chance of filling sheets of paper with all that we have seen, listened to and read throughout the year? The system might be testing us but wouldn't it be nice to think of it this way--- that the system offers us a mic on a platter so that we can let the whole world know what we indeed know!

If examinations are taken by us all as a wonderful OTP time-- how do we prepare ourselves for it? How do we so equip ourselves that we grab this big opportunity and prove in a way that our self-esteem is raised; such that our parents heave a sigh of relief that 'yes, it was all worth it'; and such that many years hence, we do not look at our performance with regret?

Of course, there must be fears running amok in your hearts and butterflies in every stomach too, along with many a sleepless nights and beads of sweat running down your spine. If you have or feel any of the above-- it obviously means that you are just NORMAL; that you are a reasonably intelligent a person who has ample potential to establish and declare with a bang! There are only a select few who, cool as cucumbers as they are, ace an exam with their eyes closed. It is all akin to a cool breeze for them---as if taking an exam is the second most normal thing human can do after breathing....

Hope you aren’t one of those less wise ones or those unlucky ones—who miss the moment and thereby, send the opportunity-in-disguise away? Of course not… You seem to be one of those wise ones who see through the disguise and even if an exam may appear to be scary and appear to be tough –you will know that it is, in reality, an opportunity! You will not mistake it as an obstacle, isn’t it? You will not fret and frown, isn’t it? Or else, the opportunity will leave your door and move on and it is only much later that we would realise the truth and then there would be no point in wishing and hoping that had you recognized it, life would have turned out to be much different, after all…

There is little sense in sitting down and wondering now, as to why and when did we start developing an aversion at the very mention of the word: EXAM. There are many reasons associated primarily with our own behaviour and with the systems we have built. But, don’t you get bogged down just because many things are not designed the way they should have been. There are many truths about our education and examination system that need to change and there are many a lacunae too. However, let us discuss the same and many more weaknesses and strengths, some other time. The exams are just round the corner and the focus has to be on greeting our buddy; our opportunity---which has come in disguise and which will test us and determine whether it should give us the gifts it has brought in its garb or not. If we smile and welcome it warmly, the opportunity will unload the gifts. If we frown, panic and hide—it will feel sorry for us, but leave nothing for us and bid us goodbye.
What do you think ought to be your approach? How do you want to treat an exam?

Do you like the word ‘HURRAY’?Well, isn’t it a very fun-filled word; a word that refreshes us and energises us? We need to remember just this one word before and during the examinations and we shall be filled with the same energy and joy that this word is synonymous with…
Walk down the following steps, with a HURRAY!!! In your mind:

Step 1

H:

Have
with you the most essential ingredients as soon as an exam is announced:

* Have your time-table
* Have the wisdom to make a balanced and practical schedule
* Have the courage to adhere to your schedule
* Have the correct estimate of your strengths and weaknesses
* Have a talk with your parents

In fact, if you are a real smart guy or girl, you will start gathering the ingredients even before the exams are announced. Having the necessary equipment is the first step. Check if you have the time-table at hand and then based on it, start preparing your schedule. Every single day has to be planned out well and in a balanced way. How many exams do you have to appear for, and how many days do you have at hand? Divide the days and hours impeccably. Have the wisdom to know what your strong areas are and what your weak areas are. Obviously, the weaker areas will need to be allocated more time. Make schedules that are possible and practical enough to be followed all throughout the period.

Have a talk with our parents. Insist with them that you need to talk. Spell out all your concerns and worries and lay them out on the table. Enable them to make their expectations realistic and allow them to motivate you with their lessons and experiences. If your communication is clear, sound, and amiable with your parents—with both understanding each other’s concerns—it just sets the right atmosphere at home.

STEP 2

U:

Understand
who you are and how do you look at your life. Spending a few hours before you take the dive and plunge yourself in the deep sea of books, are essential so as to have a clean and clear mind. Some experts might think that spending time with yourself and trying to understand oneself is an unnecessary waste of time, and that too before the exams. However, it is certainly not so!

It is important to be clear at the very outset about questions such as:

*Who am I?
*What is it that I wish to accomplish in my life?
*Why do I need to study?
*What will all these efforts give me?
*What is in it, for me?
*Is my performance going to benefit anyone else, other than me?

Just before we embark on a journey, we gather the equipment and the vehicle and then we do ask ourselves, isn’t it, as to what is the purpose of the journey? Where are we headed? What are we going to derive from the journey? Similarly, once you are clear in our mind as to what are the benefits in store for you, and if you recognise the opportunity in disguise—the journey will be clearer and lighter. Even when the tasks seem to be arduous, you will not dither and waver because you have already spelled out the gains clearly in your mind.

STEP 3

R:

Regularity
is a key word. It is an essential trait we must firmly equip ourselves with…

*Be regular in attending your classes
*Be regular about when you sleep and when you wake up
*Be regular about your what you eat and when you eat
*Play regularly
*Drink sufficient fluids regularly
*Exercise regularly
*Spend some leisure moments regularly

Don’t you agree that if one is regular in all of the above areas and habits, the results can be stupendous? Those who are always regular in attending classes in school/college, find the exams less threatening than others. They are more likely to recognise the exams as an opportunity, despite the disguise. Even the study-hours at home, must be regularly maintained.

Of course, all of you are smart and knowledgeable and must be aware of the benefits of drinking healthy fluids and eating healthy foods regularly. There are certain fluids and foods which keep the mind alert and fresh. Do not eat heavy and processed foods. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and drink healthy fluids such as buttermilk, warm milk, soups, or green tea, if you like. One has to be careful, though, about not only the amount of intake of all of the above but also of, the regularity in timings. Do not starve the body during exams by ‘forgetting’ to eat or by not being ‘in the mood’ to eat. Similarly, do not stuff your bodies with foods, as an antidote to the anxiety you experience. If you respect your body and treat it well, it shall not fail you during your long hours of study and hard work. It shall stand by you and keep your mind—well-nourished and alert.
STEP 4

R:

Repetition
is equally essential to feel the HURRAY sensation in entirety!!! By repetition, we mean Practice well. The mind registers what is oft repeated and fed to it. Of course, this is not to encourage rote learning. You must understand events in history and the sums in math, but even after understanding—it is practice that makes the learner perfect. The mind gets attuned in the desired direction and retains the knowledge the better.

*Repeat the purpose of your study to yourself daily
*Repeat to yourself your goals in life
*Repeat the formulae and theorems
*Repeat the maps… the spellings…
*Repeat the chronology in events in history
*Repeat the solving of previous years’ question papers

STEP 5

A:

Adapt
to the changes, if and when they catch you off-guard. Whether one is driving or playing a game or fighting a battle—while one must carry the ingredients and while one is clear and focussed, and has sufficiently practiced too—one must, nevertheless, be prepared for the changes that life surprises us with.

We have a schedule made by us, and while we are diligently trying to adhere to the same—things can still go awry. A brave soldier; a smart player and an intelligent driver will not let ‘changes’ do much damage to their goal-fulfilment dream. The key is in adapting with the changes and moving ahead unperturbed.

*Adapt and adjust your timetable if guests come over unexpectedly
*Adapt if you or a family member happens to fall sick
*Adapt—if needed, in case of disruption in electricity/weather conditions
*Adapt if there are sudden changes in the exam time-table

The point is to be prepared, so that one does not stumble and fall—and later blame events in life or destiny, for the poor performance. There are children who suffer from traumatic losses just a few days prior to their exams, but manage to put up a brave front till they finish the exams, and then grieve later. Remember, everything will not always be neither in your control and nor turn out as you plan. Learning to adapt is the only way out.

STEP 6

Y:

YOU!
Finally, it is all about YOU. Do not appear for exams to please your parents. Do not think that you are extending a favour to them by passing your tests. It is You and Your life that is at stake. It is You who shall gain or suffer the pain. The opportunity is Yours, and if you shall let it wither away—the loss shall be Yours too.

Just as in the beginning of the exams, you must know clearly that what is your objective, similarly—the last step before you go out and give the test is to remember that you are doing it for Yourself. If you are content with remaining illiterate and with the subsequent quality of your life as it shall turn out to be—then be brave and tell your parents that you shall not study and give the exams. However, if you think you can do it and you stand to gain with all the knowledge/degrees you acquire—go for it, for Your sake.

The tears shall be yours; whether they prove to be tears of joy or of regret—that choice too is YOURS. Of course, there shall be hard-work involved and yes, there shall be sacrifices too. You might get to sleep a little less or party a little less or not get to laze around much—but these and many more such delights will always be there for you... It is the time that matters. You can pass Class X or XII even at the age of 70 years. You must decide whether you would like to avail all the resources now; do the hard-work now and enjoy the fruits later or would you rather struggle now and learn your lessons the hard way and then, seek knowledge in the twilight years of life… These moments that are NOW, could very well be respected now.

“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy — I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it”.
~ Arthur Williams

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, a feature writer and an author, who also counsels and recurrently conducts training workshops. Over 200 feature articles and 7 Books written by her have been published till date. Her most recent publication is a Book titled: Dear Parents, published by BYB Publications, Mumbai in June 2018. She has also authored two Work-books and two e-booklets. She takes lectures/training sessions at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Kuwait and Gurukul—a skill development centre in Salmiya, Kuwait.
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Express your comment on this article

 
Sharmila
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Well written Madam.
Thought of OTP is wonderful. i will tell all school kids to follow the magic of prooving themselves .
Thank you.

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