Preparing for a competitive exam might sound scary. Dozens of books, hundreds of chapters, and endless sources, – competitive preparation can get tough. You’ll need to study for long hours, day and night, to achieve success. But you can make the process easier and increase your chances of succeeding if you know the right way of managing your studies.
Here are some expert tips to help you succeed with your competitive exams preparation.
Have a short study period
If you want to excel in an exam, don’t study for long hours. Instead of going into a marathon, break your study sessions. Studying long hours may help you cover a lot of stuff at one go, but in the end, you’ll feel tired and frustrated. And it won’t be a surprise if you forget a thing or two. So, if you’re aiming to ace a competitive exam, study for two hours straight, then take a break of 15-20 minutes and then get back again.
Sync your daily schedule with the home study schedule
If you’re taking any coaching or training for the exam, make sure to cover a topic as soon as your teacher discusses it in the class. Revise the topic as soon as possible, and make sure to prepare the notes for revision. When there is a test in your class, you should be prepared for it, and it’s possible only if you learn the concepts and memorize the questions.
Create a study timetable
One of the essential aspects of preparing for competitive exams is creating a timetable. You need to know the ins and out of the syllabus – what topics are in the subject, and what is their weightage?
Once you have this information, then you need to create a time table that covers each and every topic in the syllabus. Having a time table is important as it tells you what to study and well. In addition to creating a study timetable, also create a revision timetable to revise what you study.
Plan your study time
Be sure you have planned things before you sit to study. You should have a clear idea of what you want to study and what you want to skip. Plan things ahead and know what exactly you are going to cover and how you’ll be revising it before the exam. This practice can go a long way in improving your efficiency and helping you get things done.
Take small breaks
We’ve discussed breaks before. Taking breaks is critical to maintaining focus and concentration. If you study too much without taking any breaks, you’ll lose focus, and your brain will not be able to consume, process, and store information. However, make sure your breaks aren’t too long, either. Taking a one hour break after every two hours of studying is a waste of time.
You can also use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time and breaks. According to this technique, you do something with laser focus for 25 minutes, then take a small break of 5 minutes. You repeat this cycle four times, and after two hours, you can take a long break of 15-30 minutes. Of course, you can manage your breaks the way you want, but make sure your breaks are well-timed and effective.
Also, don’t spend the entire day studying. If you’ve spent the entire morning and afternoon studying, take a couple of hours off during the evening and play a game or hit the gym.
Drink some coffee
Drinking some tea and coffee is good to keep you up and running. Not that you should drink ten cups of coffee a day. But drinking small amounts of tea or coffee once a few times during the day can help you focus and prevent you from feeling sleepy or dizzy. When it comes to tea, you can opt for healthier alternatives, like green or herbal tea. These drinks can refresh your mind and help you concentrate better.
Get rid of distractions
If you want to study well, get rid of any potential distractions. If your smartphone keeps looking at you with sad eyes, lock it inside a drawer for the time you study. If your room has a lot of noise, find a peaceful place. And if your house is filled with distractions, go to a local library to study.
Study from different sources
There are no specific books or materials that’ll help you clear competitive exams. You’ll need to do your research and accumulate your own material for studying. In order to clear a competitive exam successfully, don’t limit your learning from a single source. Check out different books to consume as much knowledge as possible. And don’t stick to books only; look for online learning sources to expand your knowledge.
Don’t forget about sample papers
Previous papers are the holy grail of clearing competitive exams. Almost all competitive exams follow a specific pattern and question structure. When you solve previous question papers, you get a clear idea about what types of questions are asked and what to expect from the exam.
This puts you ahead of other students as you already know what type of questions will be asked. You can then tailor your studying efforts accordingly to improve your study efficiency.
Don’t study at odd times
Early hours of the day is the best time to study, especially of the topics are difficult. Waking up early and starting to study in the morning can go a long way in improving the quality of your study. But make sure to get enough sleep at night so you can get up early and study what’s important. Don’t compromise on your sleep; it’ll help you remember a lot of what you study in the long run.
You should not study when you’re sleepy. If you do that, you’ll spend the half time dozing off, and the other half going through words that won’t make sense at all. Similarly, you are likely to feel sleepy after having lunch or dinner. If you’re feeling asleep, don’t hold it off. Instead, take a small nap. Or better, stick to studying during the daytime when your cognitive abilities are at their peak.
If you’re preparing for a national level competitive exam, you might already have a dozen books on your shelf. You’ll need to read all of them, and it’s impossible to memorize every word you read. But it’s possible to increase your chances of remembering a concept by reading the text thoroughly. So, read the text properly, and if needed, read every chapter twice or thrice. Make sure you remember the headings and subheadings properly.
Another way to remember most of what you read is to remember keywords. When studying a chapter for the first time, highlight a few important words. You can later revert to these keywords for revision when you’re getting ready for the exam.
Studying for a competitive exam is a long process, and it might take years for you to succeed. During the course of your preparation, you need to be motivated and focused. And it will be possible only if you study the right way. So, take note of the tips discussed above to make your study schedule more efficient and effective.