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Edu-Tech Exam Preparation Internet Pedagogies Self Learning Stress Management Tips and Tricks

Decoding Smart Tips to Ace Competitive Exams

As students, it is imperative to have a focused goal for higher education. You need to have a clear understanding of which competitive exams to take and how to prepare for competitive exams. Half-hearted efforts and mere speculations will not help you on your quest to nail competitive exams. To stay aligned with your quest for the desired result, it is the need of the hour to stay focused and burn the midnight oil. 

A matrix of competitions

In 2019, of 11.47 lakh students who appeared for the JEE Main exam, only 2.45 lakh students qualified for the JEE Advanced. Finally, only 13,000+ will get admission to an engineering college. Similarly, over 2.44 lakh aspirants appeared for the CAT exam for management institutes. Over 15 lakh students applied for the national medical entrance exam NEET. All this signifies the soaring levels of competition in our country.

If you ask how to crack competitive exams, there is no magic potion for it. Those who have come out with flying colours will tell you that cracking competitive exams takes more than just studying. It requires supplementing the regular academic curriculum with a focused approach for competitive exams along with mock tests and practice tests. 

A downhill for success

‘How to study for competitive exams?’ is one of the most important unanswered questions. It is surprising that we actually do not know how to ‘learn’ for exams. So, we have devised a list of techniques on how to prepare for competitive exams that you must incorporate to get sure-shot success in competitive exams

Follow Ivan Pavlov’s Theory

As per the conditioning experiment conducted by a Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov, dogs salivate on hearing the doorbell in anticipation of food. Incorporating the same login to our mind, if we study the same subject at the same time and the same place, our brain makes the association and gets trained accordingly. This approach works wonders and motivates us to get in the mood to study

Smart planning of timetable

‘Self-study’ and ‘smart study’ often help to master your basics. Study the topic taught in the classroom on the same day at home and prepare notes. In a rush to outshine others and match the pace of the tutor, it is imperative to give time to every subject so that no subject is missed. Create a timetable that will help you overcome your weaknesses and brush up your basics and strengths.

Take short breaks after every one or two hours, since a one three to four hours long marathon session can reduce your grasping and retaining ability. It is believed that during study breaks, the mind absorbs automatically without any conscious effort. A well-planned study schedule makes your brain work more efficiently. When focusing on how to prepare for competitive exams, shorter and effective study sessions can do wonders to your preparation.

Work smarter to reap better results

Being physically present, but mentally absent is a sheer waste of time. A smart study implies focusing on topics that are more important and devoting minimum time to unnecessary ones. To reduce boredom and fear of difficult subjects, you should start with the most difficult subject when you are fully active. Therefore, sandwiching lighter subjects with harder subjects will help your mind to absorb more and make learning a less stressful process.

In situations, when concepts get intertwined, leave one of the concepts and focus on only one concept. To assess your conceptual understanding, it is advisable to take up relevant questions and mock tests. This not only will give you a clear picture of the preparation, but also boosts your confidence.

OK4R mantra 

Dr Walter Pauk has devised OK4R strategy to empower students to assimilate more information through power reading. Let’s go through this approach to understand how to prepare for competitive exams. 

  • O for Overview: To get the overview, just read the headings, sub-headings, introduction and summary of the topic/ subject. This will help you get a fair idea of the concept.
  • K for Key Ideas: To get the key idea and usage of the concept, focus on the first sentence of each paragraph, italics and bold-type text, tables, pictures and diagrams and bulleted sections.
  • R1 for Reading the topic: Read the entire concept and understand the full explanation of the topic. Try to relate it to the heading and summary that you read earlier.
  • R2 for Recall: Now is the time to recall and pen down major points. This will help you double up the retention time of the topic.
  • R3 for Reflect: Try to recollect and think about the topic (s) who have studied and try to find the significance and application of the topics you have read.
  • R4 for Revision: Reviewing or revision is one of the crucial steps in preparing for exams, especially competitive exams. Once you are done with the topic/ chapter, test yourself by attempting questions and mock tests to know where you stand. It is advisable to do time-to-time reviews or revisions to thoroughly understand the topic.

Attempt mock tests and previous years’ questions

Undue pressure and ever-increasing stress on students is a gruelling journey and to overcome such a situation, you should essentially attempt mock tests and practice previous years’ questions. As it is rightly said that practice makes a man perfect, taking up mock tests will give you exposure to myriad questions. Solving previous years’ question papers will make you familiar with the exam format and help you assess your preparation.

Mock tests will help evaluate your preparation viz-a-viz other aspirants on the national level. This will essentially give you a fair picture of your chances of cracking the competitive exam.

Additionally, you also become aware of the potential questions and tips & tricks to crack them. Always attempt these papers and questions with utmost seriousness.

Build your own strategy to solve questions

Every individual is different and so are their ways of studying and solving questions. Devise your strategy to attempt the exams, set it clear in your mind which section to attempt first. It is advisable to attempt easier questions first as they boost your confidence and you tend to solve faster and more questions. Generally, begin with your strong areas followed by the weaker ones. 

Instead of approaching the questions with a conventional and longer way, use short-cuts and tricks to arrive at the answer. This will help you manage your time better and attempt more questions. 

Do not waste time formulating test-taking strategy in the examination hall, instead fix one in your mind and follow that even while attempting mock tests.

Relaxing and rejuvenation

Relax to explore ways on how to prepare for competitive exams. Take short breaks, watching your favourite movies, listening to songs, indulge in sports, etc. Additionally, exercise or yoga and meditation are the best ways to keep stress & negativity at bay.

We understand how important it is for you to crack competitive exams. But if you want to do well, don’t stress yourself. Just stay focused on your goal and we promise good results will show.

All the best for your exams!

Kritika Tandon

Kritika is an avid reader and passionate writer. As an active and enthusiastic writer, she has a keen interest in writing on topics pertaining to education, technology and social issues. She enjoys traveling, gardening and creative writing.


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