After the deadly 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish flu), Covid-19 is perhaps the most widely spread pandemic. The pandemic is impacting healthcare systems, economies and the most vulnerable education sector the most. In India, March to June every year is considered to be the months of Exams. This includes School Terminal Exams, School Board Exams, College/University Exams and various entrance and competitive exams leading to jobs.
The Pandemic has also sent various competitive entrance exams like JEE, NEET etc. for a toss for which significant number of students prepare for two or more years and the admissions will take place only after these tests are conducted. The job aspirants are also hit badly due to the lockdown as their coaching centers are closed, exams postponed and staying inside adding to the anxiety.
We always envied that student who only studied a few hours for final exams and scored excellent consistently. We deliberate how such students seem to sail through without appropriate effort and crack that exam. The measures for successful exam cracking are not mysterious. Successful candidates steadily apply a series of constructive approaches with a view to attaining clearly identified outcomes/goals.
Most of the competitive exams leading to jobs are a mix of multiple-choice and descriptive. Majority of these multiple-choice tests also have provision for negative marking.
Following tips/tricks may help candidates in a multiple-choice test situation:
Skim through the question paper and rank questions: As you go through the question paper, start marking questions as 1,2,3 (category) where 1 being deemed easiest and 3 deemed most difficult.
Easiest questions first: Begin responding to easiest questions (category 1) this will help in gaining confidence and ensure that you have secured some marks.
Move to category 2 questions: Once you have attempted all category 1 questions, you may now move to category 2. When you move to category 2 questions you may feel that some of the category 2 questions were actually category 1. This may simply happen because now you are confident and relaxed.
Manage time and pace: Maximum time may be allocated to questions of category 1 and 2 particularly if there is negative marking. If you have extra time then look at some of the category 3 questions otherwise, just review the earlier answer wherever you have doubts.
Don’t look at any pattern of answers: Even if you have answered ‘C’ in your last 4-5 questions do not suspect your answer just by the coincidence of all having same correct answer.
Do not look at options at first: Try to think out the answer before looking at the options. This way you will be able to be sure of your answer and avoid confusion.
What if you have more than two probable answers: These questions are very difficult to answer. You may choose any of the two and then label such questions as True/False and move on. During review you may spend more time on these questions and by re-reading the question and reasonably thinking through you may conclude the correct answer.
Be cautious of words in question which are conclusive: These conclusive terms tend to depict things either correct or incorrect where this is often not the case. Words like permanently, certainly, entirely,fully and only are absolutes. Relative words like frequently, typically, appear, possibly and could are often more accurate.
Convert statements for easy understanding: It is advised to convert the double negatives into simple statements. For example the term “Not failing” can be converted to “passing” and this can reduce confusion.
Guess with logic: If you must guess (particularly if there is no negative marking), rule out the option which is way too different than others.
Besides your preparation for the test, the body-language, confidence and anxiety also play a crucial role in how you perform in the test.
Following are some tips for keeping you in the best position:
Arrive the exam center at least half an hour before the reporting time.
Avoid last minute memorizing with friends/mates outside the exam center
Some level of anxiety or excitement is natural don’t panic. Such stimulation is normal and desirable in the sense that it implies you are ready and alert.
If you feel excessively nervous — if your heart is pulsating, if you are having butterflies in your stomach— then calm yourself physically by attending to your breathing. Breathe slowly, rhythmically and deeply.
Make use of the full allotted time for the exam; do not be upset or disturbed if other people finish early. They may have given up without having finished the test.