For many when we hear the phrase "It's that time of year again..." we think of year-end holidays and another year gone. For others it's the dreaded time of exams. Again! A time of fear and anxiety, a time of wishing we had done more during the year, but there's no getting away from it. It's that time of year again....
And as we grow older the exams seem to get more difficult and the brain more reluctant to yield the information we crammed into it. At junior grade the answers are simple, such as the teacher who asked Albie to come to the map and show the class where is America, Albie did so correctly and then the teacher asked: "Now class, who discovered America?" "Albie!!" was the prompt and proud answer.
As we grow older we can no longer get away hiding behind childhood innocence but have to demonstrate our learning ability and answer the questions about intricate subjects that often have a multitude of odd sounding phrases that difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to learn. But without learning there can be no progress. "The more knowledgeable the man, the more valuable the man" said Hazrat Ali (RA)
With the limited time to cram a year's worth of information we often seek extraordinary solutions, but there are few except the tried and tested method of prayer, hard work and lots more hard work. But here some practical tips to help you:
1. Pray - Before any study session spend a few moments praying. Sometimes teens think that Allah is only in the most spiritual parts of their lives, but Allah is in every aspect of your life. He wants you to succeed. Praying can bring you closer to Allah and make you feel a little stronger and relaxed going into test time. Ask others to also pray for you. We can never underestimate the power of prayer.
2. Study SMART – more time doesn't mean more effective studying. Ideally study for 50 minutes then spend 10 minutes reviewing the material just covered. Then take a 5minute break to soak it all in.
3. Establish a study timetable – many students loose hours of study time deciding what to study and the mind will always gravitate to those subjects we enjoy ignoring the ones that we dislike and really need attention.
4. Lose the Excuses - It can be easy to put off studying until the last minute. The things going on around you can be tempting ways to procrastinate. Exams are overwhelming. They do test your limits, but you can learn. You need to keep your pace reasonable and learn what you can.
5. Eat Well – while many teenagers are convinced that chocolate slabs and crisps are packed with sufficient sugar and carbohydrates to nourish the brain – in reality, they only satisfy the taste-buds and are very poor brain food. High sugar foods may give you energy at first, but then it plummets pretty quickly. So drop some of the 'snacks' for a real good meal at least twice a day.
6. Get Your Rest - Sleep is one of the most important tools you have in studying for exams. You may feel stressed and like you don't know everything you need to know, but a good night sleep can help relieve that stress. A lack of sleep can end up clouding your judgement or increase your number of mistakes. Get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night, especially the night before your exam.
7. Take a Breather - Breaks are a good thing. Even the test preparers of major tests like the ACT and SAT know the importance of taking a breather, as they schedule them into the test time. Studying can take its toll on you, and after a while the words and information can just seem like a jumbled mess. Step away from what you are studying and just clear your head with something different. It will help make you fresh to continue.
8. Have Some Fun - Yes, exam time is stressful, and you may feel like you have to devote all your time to studying. However, if you develop a good plan you should have some time to spend with friends and family. Make some time to do some things with your youth group that week to just blow off steam. Taking an hour or two to get away from the stress is a good thing. It will make your head a bit clearer when you back to studying and you will feel reenergized.
When all else fails then you could pray a lot more and come up with some imaginative excuses like:
Father: Why are your exam marks so low?
SON: Because I sit at the desk at the back, Dad.
Father: What difference does that make?
SON: Well, there are so many of us in the class that when it's my turn for marks there aren't any left.
We pray that Allah Ta'ala grant all the students success in their exams and use their knowledge for the sake of promoting his Deen. And we also ask Allah to assist us all in our FINAL exam and allow us all to pass this difficult assessment. Aameen!