You walk inside the room slowly. You look around for your seat, settle down, arrange your stationary and wait. Your heart is thumping and your breaths are getting quicker and deeper. This is what you have prepared for. This is the moment your parents told you about when you were 14. The moment you had been preparing for from an age when you should have been discovering yourself. The entrance exam finally dawns.
Entrance exams are really a big deal in India, especially in the undergraduate courses. It is seen as something that will make or break your future. If you make it, you are the pride of your family and if you don’t, well, you will have to spend a large chunk of your life being considered a failure.
Various universities all conduct their entrance exams – whether for engineering, medical or law – in the months of April, May and June. Since I have a lot of experience with the stressors and clutch moments of these exams, I believe I should share my two cents as well. I will share some do’s and don’t’s and a few more tips to allow you to excel and give your 100% at the examination centre.
When there are seven days left for the test, it is important that you solve practice problems and papers. It is a piece of advice that is universal irrespective of your course. Get an OMR or any other marking sheet from your tuition and try to hold mock tests for yourself to acclimatise to the requirements of the test.
Also, try to give these mock tests at the same time as the real ones. It helps set up the body clock and makes sure that your brain becomes well habituated to operating at those times. For example, I used to conduct mock tests for myself from 10 am to 1 pm.
Do as many tests as you can and always check how much you are scoring. It is okay to make some mistakes in these mock exams. They would still have room for correction. Don’t be scared or let down if you make some silly mistakes or miss out on a simple question here or there. Take it as a lesson for the exam and learn to pay special attention to these mistakes.
The day before the test, don’t study anything after it is three hours to your sleeping time. This is a very crucial time for every student. Many students try to revise again and again as much as they can and in this process, end up forgetting more than they learn.
Before you go to sleep, try not to think about the exam. If you cannot control thinking about it, then keep reminding yourself of the work that you have put into this for years. Have some good food, browse funny videos on YouTube and try to be as calm as possible. This is the time for de-stressing.
This is a very important time for how your test will go. It is more crucial than the years of work you have put into this. I have often heard stories from students about how they were too tensed in the exam room and the anxiety got the better of them eventually.
I have seen so many bright and sharp people not being able to clear the entrance test because their mind stopped working. Things like shaky hands, stress, anxiety, panic, breathlessness and palpitations are a common feature for many students. It is important that at this point, we focus more on the exam than on what could happen if we failed.
I know the pressure of failing is huge but when you are sitting in the room with that pen in your hand and the question paper in front of you, remember to not get overwhelmed by the questions. Remember, these are questions you have practised for years. It is not necessary to get 100%. 100% is almost impossible in these exams but it is important that you give your best.
Now is the time you relax. No matter how the exam went. You need to make sure that you can be in a position to say that you gave the exam everything you had. Once it is done, I would recommend not discussing it immediately since it could spoil your mood. The moment after the exam is done should be one of relief and not guilt.
Failure in these exams is hardly ever permanent. In that way, it is not even failure, it is just delayed success. You will get there – slowly, but you will. All the best!