Once, when I was in standard 6 or 7, my English teacher told the class a story. It was about how one should prepare for the exams. In that point in time, for me, she was the best English teacher in my school, but now she is a lot more than just the best English teacher. She understands a student, their learning methods and how a brain deals with those methods, pretty well.
Going back in time, I was sitting with the rest of my class, listening to her with a smile and wishing to be as good a storyteller as she was.
She said: “The brain is a library, subjects and chapters you read are like books. When you read, you fill this library with books. Now, you have a library and books in it, or better to say a messed up library with a lot of books on biology, languages, mathematics, science, sports, etc.”
This is the state of mind just before our exams. We study and add books to the library in our mind. Every topic of each chapter of each book you read is a new book in this library. So imagine the number of books you have added just by reading only a few chapters of just one book of just one subject out of so many books on so many subjects mentioned in your syllabus for that year.
I am not even considering the books you added last year or a year before the last one. Now with so many books all here and there in the library, can you find any specific book that you need to answer a particular question in your exam?
You need to arrange the books on the shelves – subject wise, chapter wise, and then topic wise. Sounds obvious! This is how books are arranged in any library. But how do we do it in the library in our mind?
The time we take to revise whatever we have read takes the books to the aisle of the topic to which it belongs. Revising it again assigns a specific rack to it. Revising the 3rd time puts the book in the place assigned to it. Studying anything 5-7 hours before the exam is like giving time to all the books to take their specific places and for you to understand the complete map of the library.
The purpose behind this story was to tell us the importance of revision and the need to relax the brain.
I loved the story. It was her story, and she was my favourite teacher, so I started following this rule during my exams. I prefer to complete 60% of my syllabus, revise what I have read thrice, and sleep for 7-8 hours before my exam over completing 80% of the syllabus an hour before the examination. My brain is used to this routine. It has worked for me in every exam that I have taken so far. It might help you too.
You can try it out. You can complete 100% of the syllabus but don’t forget to revise it, and then allow your mind to settle with so much of data and information.
Note: Exam time can be difficult and stressful.If you have any stories or tips to share regarding your personal experience of dealing with exam stress, you can share them with us here.