Tortured by Exams? Escape the Chamber

By  |  9 Comments
What good have exams ever done for mankind? All they do is stress you out, mess up your social life, and give people complexes about whether smart is an apt word to use to describe them.
The only people who benefit from exams are invigilators – who get paid, lecturers – who also get paid AND take pleasure in your torture, and parents – who get to save money when they no longer have to buy you that PlayStation® or whatever it is they promised you, if you got top grades.
To all of you who have exams, I feel for you. Yes exams are a must to earn your qualifications, but that still doesn’t stop them from being a pain in the arse. I mean… why do they test us? They know we’re going to cram, people who are a bit book-challenged might study ‘hard’ and fail anyway, and ‘bright’ students who eh study one bit may well be the lucky ones to get good grades. Yes. Life is so not fair.
‘Bright’ people try to fool you into thinking that it’s all about attending every class, being a teacher’s pet, and quoting Shakespeare, formulae, and other ish. I don’t believe in the ‘bright’ argument for doing well in exams. I believe in being strategic. I was a wutless student in my UWI undergrad days (I turned a new leaf when I did my master’s degree).
Though a bit wutless, I was a strategic delinquent and learnt that doing well in exams wasn’t so much about knowing everything. It’s about knowing what to study, studying a specific range of topics, having a good handle on expressing yourself, making what little knowledge you have relevant to the question (even if they ask you about blue skies and you write about donkeys), managing your energy, and learning to bluff like there is no tomorrow.
Since exams are upon you, I thought I’d share the tricks and techniques I’ve learned along the way. For those of you who have already started exams, and feel it’s too late to save yourself, take heart; some of these tips are meant to help you at the last minute. See… sometimes you were a good student all semester long, and did everything you were supposed to, and still they throw you for a curveball on exam day. These tips are therefore all about getting your body and mind into the right mode to be ingenious on exam day. It’s more about faking the confidence and believing you can handle whatever the examiner throws your way. So stop praying electricity goes or that a storm hits. If implemented properly, these tips should do the trick.
Get some sleep
First rule is get some sleep. Yes, you’ll pull all-nighters, but you’ve got to create a rhythm so that you’re alert for the exam. So maybe do an all-nighter every other night. If you’re in dire straits, go ahead and pull two all-nighters. However, on the third day… you must rest.
Yeah… you probably have tonnes of chapters to cram, but all that cramming will be of no use if you’re too tired to remember what little you studied, and you don’t want to be the person who fell asleep in your exam. Just ask anyone who’s fallen asleep in an exam.
Diet
Know the line about not being able to make love on a hungry belly? Well you can’t study on a hungry belly. Even if you convince yourself that you can… your belly will tell you otherwise when you’ve read an entire chapter, only to realize that you can’t remember what the hell you were reading in the first place.
You need something to pump you up and give you energy. About the food for energy… I’m not talking about dasheen and ting. Ask yourself what gets you hyper and gives you wings? If you’re thinking about that blue, silver and red can, there’s a trick to that as well. Don’t drink a Red Bull when you’re already tired. Drink it just before you get tired. That way it carries you through, and you can fly like a kite. If you prefer other methods of sugar rush, you can try my dependable combo – a coke and a pack of skittles. Taste the rainbow.
Highlighting
A highlighter is the adult version of crayons, so it’s always fun to get your highlighting on when studying. Choosing a highlighter is very important. You can’t study everything. You can’t remember everything. So highlight what you want to remember. Choose a colour wisely. Hate pink? Well choose a yellow highlighter. Feeling depressed before you even start studying? Choose a blue highlighter. Point is… choose a colour that you love, so that your eyes and brains will be happy to receive the information you’re about to cram. Trust me. This has helped when I sat in a locker room or on the library floor a half hour before two or more exams. I did say I was wutless.
Admit defeat
Be real with yourself. If you’re helpless in Maths… well ummmm you might be a hopeless case no matter how much you study. Know thyself. Note I’m not saying to accept failure. I’m just saying, be realistic. Ok. Maybe I am saying to accept defeat, because I really don’t know what to tell you to do except study anyway, buy an apple for your teacher every day, and hope for the best.
Macco
Exam season is the time to pretend to be James Bond or his cousin Harry. One time, I had a corporate law exam. The lecturer wanted us to know our stuff inside out. He used to say, “Don’t give me any Mother Lakshmi answers” (don’t beat me, beat him; he really said that). On the other hand, when you’ve either dozed off in class, daydreamed about that hot guy who lives on your street, or plain ol’ missed a few classes, specificity becomes elusive.
Thankfully, for me, I was sitting by KFC an hour before the exam, cramming with other students. Then someone mentioned a case the lecturer was going to base a question on. That was news to me. So I skedaddled to the computer lab, pulled up the case on the Internet, and crammed its contents. I’m happy to report that I was able to answer that question quite well, and that’s probably what helped me to pass.
Lesson here. Macco what’s going on.
Get a partner in crime
Having a partner in crime will also help. For another law class, I had a friend who I’ll just refer to as “Rising Sun”. He’d attend class one week; I’d attend the other, and so we’d go. Then at the end of the semester, we’d review the topics, I’d select what we’d study, we’d cram the night before, and walk into the exam cocky as a peacock, and miraculously get an ‘A’. That wasn’t because we were ‘bright’ though. It was because of the following point.
Have a bluff plan
Exams demand creativity, whether you’re prepared or not. Studied five books? Studied one chapter? Make that info work. Decide what you’re answering. Regardless of what they bring, this is the information you’re using. Now these kinds of shenanigans only work if you’re studying ‘soft’ areas like English or Sociology where you can write yourself into a pass or even an ‘A’ grade with good expression and ingenious analyses.
If it’s maths, microeconomics, engineering, physics or stats, where ‘hard’ facts are required, ah cyah help yuh. Those subjects are ones where I used to answer a few questions and rewrite some in answer form or try to make up for my incompetence by writing long letters to the examiners explaining why they should have mercy on me. Trust me, I did that for CXC math.
Another Jedi trick is to have confidence the size of a camel’s nose. If you don’t believe in your bluffing skills… don’t bluff, because bluffing minus confidence equals a sure fail. While you’re at it, don’t buy a cheap pen either. The better your penmanship, the more likely your answers will look like the real deal, and well… lecturers like nice penmanship.
I’m going to try to be slightly socially responsible here, and say that not everything that worked for me will work for you, but if you think it can… go ahead. If not? Study, study, study, because I can’t buy you a PlayStation® or pay for you to repeat exams. Oh, and if you try it and fail? Don’t blame me. You should have been studying instead of reading my article :)

What good have exams ever done for mankind? All they do is stress you out, mess up your social life, and give people complexes about whether smart is an apt word to use to describe them.

The only people who benefit from exams are invigilators – who get paid, lecturers – who also get paid AND take pleasure in your torture, and parents – who get to save money when they no longer have to buy you that PlayStation® or whatever it is they promised you, if you got top grades.

To all of you who have exams, I feel for you. Yes exams are a must to earn your qualifications, but that still doesn’t stop them from being a pain in the arse. I mean… why do they test us? They know we’re going to cram, people who are a bit book-challenged might study ‘hard’ and fail anyway, and ‘bright’ students who eh study one bit may well be the lucky ones to get good grades. Yes. Life is so not fair.

‘Bright’ people try to fool you into thinking that it’s all about attending every class, being a teacher’s pet, and quoting Shakespeare, formulae, and other ish. I don’t believe in the ‘bright’ argument for doing well in exams. I believe in being strategic. I was a wutless student in my UWI undergrad days (I turned a new leaf when I did my master’s degree).

Though a bit wutless, I was a strategic delinquent and learnt that doing well in exams wasn’t so much about knowing everything. It’s about knowing what to study, studying a specific range of topics, having a good handle on expressing yourself, making what little knowledge you have relevant to the question (even if they ask you about blue skies and you write about donkeys), managing your energy, and learning to bluff like there is no tomorrow.

Since exams are upon you, I thought I’d share the tricks and techniques I’ve learned along the way. For those of you who have already started exams, and feel it’s too late to save yourself, take heart; some of these tips are meant to help you at the last minute. See… sometimes you were a good student all semester long, and did everything you were supposed to do, and still they throw you for a curveball on exam day. These tips are therefore all about getting your body and mind into the right mode to be ingenious on exam day. It’s more about faking the confidence and believing you can handle whatever the examiner throws your way. So stop praying electricity goes or that a storm hits. If implemented properly, these tips should do the trick.

Get some sleep

First rule is get some sleep. Yes, you’ll pull all-nighters, but you’ve got to create a rhythm so that you’re alert for the exam. So maybe do an all-nighter every other night. If you’re in dire straits, go ahead and pull two all-nighters. However, on the third day… you must rest.
Yeah… you probably have tonnes of chapters to cram, but all that cramming will be of no use if you’re too tired to remember what little you studied, and you don’t want to be the person who fell asleep in your exam. Just ask anyone who’s fallen asleep in an exam.

Diet

Know the line about not being able to make love on a hungry belly? Well you can’t study on a hungry belly. Even if you convince yourself that you can… you will learn otherwise when you’ve read an entire chapter, only to realize that you can’t remember what the hell you were reading in the first place, because all you could think about was the pelau in the fridge.

You need something to pump you up and give you energy. About the food for energy… I’m not talking about dasheen and ting. Ask yourself, what gets you hyper and gives you wings? If you’re thinking about that blue, silver and red can, there’s a trick to that as well. Don’t drink a Red Bull when you’re already tired. Drink it just before you get tired. That way it carries you through, and you can fly like a kite. If you prefer other methods of sugar rush, you can try my dependable combo – a coke and a pack of skittles. Taste the rainbow.

Highlighting 

A highlighter is the adult version of crayons, so it’s always fun to get your highlighting on when studying. Choosing a highlighter is very important. You can’t study everything. You can’t remember everything. So highlight what you want to remember. Choose a colour wisely. Hate pink? Well choose a yellow highlighter. Feeling depressed before you even start studying? Choose a blue highlighter. Point is… choose a colour that you love, so that your eyes and brains will be happy to receive the information you’re about to cram. Trust me. This has helped when I sat in a locker room or on the library floor a half hour before two or more exams. I did say I was wutless.

Admit defeat

Be real with yourself. If you’re helpless in Maths… well ummmm you might be a hopeless case no matter how much you study. Know thyself. Note I’m not saying to accept failure. I’m just saying, be realistic. Ok. Maybe I am saying to accept defeat, because I really don’t know what to tell you to do except study anyway, buy an apple for your teacher every day, and hope for the best.

Maco

Exam season is the time to pretend to be James Bond or his cousin Harry. One time, I had a corporate law exam. The lecturer wanted us to know our stuff inside out. He used to say, “Don’t give me any Mother Lakshmi answers” (don’t beat me, beat him; he really said that). On the other hand, when you’ve either dozed off in class, daydreamed about that hot guy who lives on your street, or plain ol’ missed a few classes, specificity becomes elusive.

Thankfully, for me, I was sitting by KFC an hour before the exam, cramming with other students. Then someone mentioned a case the lecturer was going to base a question on. That was news to me. So I skedaddled to the computer lab, pulled up the case on the Internet, and crammed its contents. I’m happy to report that I was able to answer that question quite well, and that’s probably what helped me to pass.

Lesson here. Maco de scene.

Get a partner in crime

Having a partner in crime will also help. For another law class, I had a friend who I’ll just refer to as “Rising Sun”. He’d attend class one week; I’d attend the other, and so we’d go. Then at the end of the semester, we’d review the topics, I’d select what we’d study, we’d cram the night before, and walk into the exam cocky as a peacock, and miraculously get an ‘A’. That wasn’t because we were ‘bright’ though. It was because of the following point.

Have a bluff plan

Exams demand creativity, whether you’re prepared or not. Studied five books? Studied one chapter? Make that info work. Decide what you’re answering. Regardless of what they bring, this is the information you’re using. Now these kinds of shenanigans only work if you’re studying ‘soft’ areas like English or Sociology where you can write yourself into a pass or even an ‘A’ grade with good expression and ingenious analyses.

If it’s Maths, Microeconomics, Engineering, Physics or Stats, where ‘hard’ facts are required, ah cyah help yuh. Those subjects are the ones where I used to answer a few questions and rewrite some in answer form or try to make up for my incompetence by writing long letters to the examiners, explaining why they should have mercy on me. Trust me, I did that for CXC math.

Another Jedi trick is to have confidence the size of a camel’s nose. If you don’t believe in your bluffing skills… don’t bluff, because bluffing minus confidence equals a sure fail. While you’re at it, don’t buy a cheap pen either. The better your penmanship, the more likely your answers will look like the real deal, and well… lecturers like nice penmanship.

I’m going to try to be slightly socially responsible here and say that not everything that worked for me will work for you, but if you think it can… go ahead. If not? Study, study, study, because I can’t buy you a PlayStation® or pay for you to repeat exams. Oh, and if you try it and fail? Don’t blame me. You should have been studying instead of reading my article :)

 

Image courtesy iStockphoto.com.

 

Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.

9 Comments

  1. Nkosi

    May 3, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Accept Defeat is the best tip on here. Not saying that the rest aren’t good, but this on stands out. People annoy the hell out of me when they stress themselves out and stick tons of information into their faces to fool themselves into thinking that they’re doing something. If you don’t get it, you won’t get it buy “cramming.” Cramming has to be the dumbest concept ever created.

  2. Analise Dougla Duchess K

    April 10, 2012 at 12:07 am

    I despise exams

  3. Robert Douglas

    May 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    give me an exam over a thesis paper ANY DAY!!!!

  4. OUTLISH Magazine

    May 14, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    Hahahaha. Been there. Yeah….it’s taxing.

  5. Miscreated Hack

    December 15, 2014 at 9:10 am

    If you’re enough of a man (and can communicate that
    to the women you date) you’ll be able to lead them right
    past all of this craziness into where you want things to go – and
    the women will absolutely love you for it. Yet, the way she keeps going
    back and forth between you and this other man is driving you
    crazy. Over and over again, we forget the worth of what
    we have, slip into ungratefulness and are likely to assume what should not be assumed.

  6. Glucology Review

    April 24, 2015 at 2:01 am

    This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have
    found something which helped me. Thanks!

  7. bester schönheitschirurg

    May 2, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Ask as many questions as you want, and ask to speak
    with prior patients to get more information regarding
    the whole experience. s procedures, it is easy to afford to change your life around for the
    better. For one, it is a minimally invasive procedure,
    and you should be back up and doing your
    thing within a matter of days.

  8. substance abuse treatment centers

    May 15, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you really recognize what you’re speaking about!

    Bookmarked. Kindly additionally consult with my website =).
    We will have a link alternate contract between us

  9. spit card game online

    June 13, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Hi, all is going nicely here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that’s genuinely fine, keep up writing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *