Building an Effective Strategy for Exams that works!

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Do you know how battles are won?
By Efficient Strategy Implementation.

Done with the Goal setting? Now it’s time for the most important Step – Creating an Efficient Strategy.

Several emotions combine together to form us, humans. These emotions are are capable of influencing our mind and hence our decision-making capacity.

But, we can’t afford to take random decisions when starting out with the preparation for exams, right? This is why it is important to have well-structured strategy for our Exams.

Creating a Strategy is easy but implementing and staying consistent with it can be difficult. To keep the latter out of the picture, you need to have a clear vision of your goals since beginning.

Otherwise, the strategy that I am about to share would as good as be thrown in the trash because remember achieving goals demands Patience and Discipline.

Moving on, let’s discuss about building a strategy that will get you better Grades in the Exams!

Create New Targets

The worst thing we can do in this journey is not planning the destination before hand because it usually results in disappointment.

So, Before we get down to business, we need to write out all the important topics we need to study for the exam. Having a precise framework will save you time and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

Also, you need to ensure that the target is S.M.A.R.T, that is,

  • Specific: Better grades aren’t enough for a goal, rather, make it specific by focusing on your weakest subject.
  • Measurable: You should be able to track your progress.
  • Attainable: Success is not an overnight success. You cannot transition from D grade to A grade in one night. Aim big but keep a minimum barrier of C grade and keep raising this barrier. Congratulate yourself even if you achieve the minimum barrier.
  • Relevant: Your goals should be relevant to you. If you wish to enter the medical field, your goals should be aligned in such a manner that you get more experience more on science-related subjects.
  • Time-Bound: I learned this hard way. It is necessary to have a deadline otherwise you may drift into your comfort zone without realizing it. But again, be realistic.

Celebrate Small Successes

Grind and hustle is not about burning out oneself. Rather, It’s about learning to be patient, determined, and consistent by taking breaks to recharge our mind.

When I started accepting productivity more as a self-care, and less as a responsibility, I genuinely started enjoying the process.

And, do you know the key step in self-care?

It’s Rewarding Yourself.

You may have not studied a lot by finishing just one target but you need to appreciate yourself for the will power and energy that put in it.

I’m not talking about having a grand celebration for a small success, but small rewards as long as they don’t distract you. It can even be treating yourself with a couple of candies.

Productivity is a long journey and if you are planning to hang on to it too long, then you better learn how to make it more interesting.

Break-down Difficult Targets

The best way to eat an elephant? Cut it into small pieces!

Once we have figured out our small and big targets, it’s time to divide the overwhelming tasks into smaller pieces.

[Try NOT to breakdown the easy tasks because it may get too easy and your brain would get bored and Procrastinate.]

While doing so, keep in mind that the difficulty level of each small task should be moderate. Otherwise, you’ll either get bored or overwhelmed.

Once you are done with making small targets, divide them into daily and weekly goals. Let me explain this with an example.

So, You have a test of Anatomy and Physiology and the topic is Respiratory System. The test is subjective and you have only 1 week to prepare. You can break the chapter into small topics such as,

  • Nose and Nasal cavityDay 1
    • Position
    • Structure
    • Function
  • Pharynx – Day 2
    • Position
    • Structure
    • Function
  • Larynx – Day 2
    • Position
    • Structure
    • Function
  • Trachea – Day 3
    • Position
    • Structure
    • Function
  • Lungs – Day 4
    • Position
    • Structure
    • Function
  • Respiration – Day 5
    • Position
    • Structure
    • Function
  • Effects of ageing on respiratory systemDay 6
  • Full Revision and Mock TestDay 7

Take proper notes

Getting good grades isn’t about reading the right book, it’s about retaining the book. If you are always reading and never revising, you are making your route to ‘better grades’ a living hell.

Note-making makes studying effective. However, it can be tedious and even perplexing at times. You won’t get it right the first time, but you’ll eventually learn how to leverage it.

How to make right notes?

Notes-making starts from listening to the lectures. We have to pay attention during the class and jot down as many important things as we can.

After the professor leaves, try to summarize the class in your mind. If you face difficulty in explaining a concept to yourself, try to understand it through videos, blogs or even your professor.

This may seem quite tricky in the beginning but if you are sincere with the process and master this art, you will be crystal clear with the class and all the concepts.

There are 3 important steps to making notes.

Step 1 – Read and pay attention in the class: Note-making starts from paying close attention to the lectures. After the class, try to write the points that you have missed. In your free-time, read the chapter wholeheartedly and underline what you think is important.

Step 2 – Make Notes: Once you’re done, go back to the first page and start noting down things that are difficult to remember. Include some mind maps and flowcharts too. It makes things easier to learn.

Step 3 – Revise: Now, It’s time to revise the notes that you made. Don’t touch your book until you think it is important or unless you wish to refer to the diagrams from time to time.

If you skip revisions, then there are no productivity tricks that can help you.

Set Deadlines little earlier

Remember the time when you had to submit 2000 long words article and you did not start it until the last moment? Or when your mom asked you to clean the room and you didn’t clean it until she was at the doorsteps?

We have all been there! And this is exactly why we should set our deadlines earlier, because otherwise, we would keep procrastinating until the last moment.

There can be different reasons so as to why people choose to reserve things for the last moment either because of their procrastinating habit or their poor prioritization skills.

Either way, this mostly leads to panic, stress, and poor results which reduces our self-esteem in long term and tempts us to quit.

Setting deadlines before the due date may not be fun but it can be a real game-changer. It will keep your life organized and when achieved, they give us a sense of motivation, encouragement, and momentum.

Setting deadlines shouldn’t be confined only for large projects. Instead, We should use them wisely to help us achieve short-term goals.

Moreover, It shouldn’t be tampered with once they are set. To make this more effective, force your brain to think that they are the true deadlines.

Track your progress

The best way to track one’s progress is by testing oneself by means of previous year question papers, quizzes and mock tests.

They can be easily found on the internet for free.

This method uses the principles of Active Recall, which is the most efficient way to study. This is because we are forcing our brain to retrieve data from short-term memory and store them into long-term memory.

Also, let’s not forget that what matters is not how much amount of information that we learn but how much information we retain.

Study Smart and Hard

Smart work >>>>>> Hard Work

Our success depends on how we combine Hard Work and Smart Work together to achieve our goals. I prefer studying for my exams in 3 following ways,

I. Understanding the Learning Pathway

One of my Naive mistakes in the earlier days included memorizing the concepts even before I was familiarized with the topic.

Because of this habit, the new information sometimes made no sense to my brain and I couldn’t link it with other relevant information in my head.

Unsurprisingly, I eventually got bored of the topic and used to drag myself just to get by.

If you can relate to this, then chances are, you are learning new materials the wrong way. This is the pathway that you should be following.

Familiarize, Understand, Link with previous Info and Memorize
Understanding the Learning Pathway

Jumping directly to the last step can be very tempting, because all that we wanna do is get finished off with your To-Do list. But, if we are not efficiently finishing each task on the list, then our To-Do list is as good as dead.

II. Revision is the key

As I mentioned above, what matters is not how much amount of information that we learn but how much information we retain.

Revision is the supreme key to ace Exams because it helps us in the retention of information. There are 2 types of revision that is used by students – Passive Revision and Active Revision.

  • Passive Revision: This is when we reread the study materials and use highlighting and underlining technique. It is good way of keeping our brain occupied but it isn’t effective.
  • Active Revision: This is when we study by recalling the information. This can be done by using teaching method, solving questionaires etc. It is the most efficient way of studying but it can be super draining at times.

Passive revision takes up lots of time, doesn’t require much efforts but is an inefficient method. Whereas, Active revision saves us a lot of time, requires lots of efforts and is highly efficient way of studying.

Both the revision methods are essential to get a better grasp on the Subject. Students who prioritize using the latter revision method tend to score higher in the exams but if you constantly use active revision method, you will frequently feel drained.

III. Solve Previous Year Question Papers

The point of having exams is to test how much you retain the information, and if you are scared of this very fact, then what’s the point of studying?

Try to solve the papers without taking a peek in the textbook. Once you are done with the exam, open your textbook and find out the things that you forgot to mention or wrote wrong.

We are more likely to remember from your mistakes because it’s easier for our brain to get attention of the wrong answers and remember it for longer period.

Initially, it will feel a little uncomfortable because it’s not something that your brain is used to, but hang in there for some more time and you’ll feel the difference.

Maintain the study flow

Treat your study sessions as a sacred time. Maintaining momentum is important to stay focused. We can’t get up from our study place every 10 minutes and expect to score better.

Before sitting down to study, gather everything that will be needed near reach. Set a time-bound study sessions and don’t get up from the seat between that time frame.

It may be uncomfortable in the beginning, but it’s just your brain trying to trick us to confine us in our comfort-zone. into avoiding hard work. If our mind and will-power are constantly in conflict with each other, then how is it possible to win?

This is why we need to train your brain to stay focused.

I personally prefer using the Pomodoro technique to build the initial momentum and later customize things according to my convenience.

Planning and strategizing is not a big deal, I know. What’s difficult is the step after – Sticking to the plan.

Overcoming distractions, procrastination, negativity and achieving discipline, and desire to study more, are all interlinked to each other.

If we are trying to stitch a torn cloth, we need to begin somewhere, right?

What I am trying to say is that while you are working on efficiently implementing your strategies, you will be faced with other problems such as distraction and procrastination.

This will get harder, especially if you are a beginner, but once you get the basic Idea about what triggers you and how you can avoid such bad habits, you will grow into a much stronger person.

I have trashed several good strategies before finally learning how to stick to it. If I can do it, so can you!

[ If you need help with getting Disciplined, Read This

If you want a guide on how to stop procrastination, Read This. ]