Of Exams and Success

Written by on 22-03-2019

It is that time of the year when children disappear from the playgrounds, their favourite haunts, and bury their faces in books. A time when parents seem more stressed than their children. Yes, vacation time is just around the corner but to get there, students will have to survive the terror of the exam time. The seriousness and stakes increase for young people whose future education and career options are dependent on the how fare in their current exams.

It is said that Indian parents are the ones who, when their child brings in 95%, question him/her about the lost 5%. The definition of success has been reduced to mere numbers on the report card. As I write this, I am training students of an engineering college. One of the posters in their corridor reads – Success is when you achieve to the best of your abilities. Comparison has been the bane of many relationships, efforts and results. Just like the fish can be seen as a failure if judged by its inability to climb a tree, any one of us can be seen, or worse see ourselves, as a failure for not being able to do what somebody else has done.

But then, that is no excuse to explain bad performances. If and after you have chosen your area of study – fine arts, sciences, engineering, medical or anything that was of your interest, then it is imperative that you give your best and put to use all the skills and abilities that God has blessed you with.  Remember the workers in the parable of the talents? They were expected to do the best with what they were given. In his autobiography Why Not the Best?, President Jimmy Carter tells about his interview with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover.

The admiral asked how he had stood in his class at the Naval Academy. “I swelled my chest with pride and answered, ‘Sir, I stood 59th in a class of 820!’ I sat back to wait for the congratulations. Instead came the question: ‘Did you do your best?’ I started to say, ‘Yes, sir,’ but I remembered who this was. I gulped and admitted, ‘No, sir, I didn’t always do my best.’ He looked at me for a long time, and then asked one final question, which I have never been able to forget—or to answer. He said, ‘Why not?”

If you believe in Christ and see your life as an offering to Him, then everything you do, including the exams and whatever they may lead you to in future should be attempted in the same belief. 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.' Colossians 3:23-24

It is a little late to start efforts towards exams now, but let’s look at some simple tips on how to maximise your efforts and utilise time to fare well.

  1. Do not strain yourself beyond your ability to concentrate. Schedule your study time and take regular breaks. Pushing yourself even when you are tired and unable to concentrate will only be counter-productive.
  2. Practice old questions papers.
  3. If you are planning to study with a friend, share and explain to each other. Teaching is twice learning.
  4. Get off social media for the period of the exams.
  5. Plan and mentally rehearse your exam day.
  6. Get all your necessary stationery in place – hall ticket, pens, papers, pad, erasers, etc.
  7. Get a good night’s sleep.

And at the exam:

  1. Get to the exam centre ahead of time to be able to figure out your seating hall and settle down before the exam begins.
  2. Fill up necessary details in the answer sheet.
  3. Read through the instructions and question paper.
  4. Think about the answers that you know best and attempt them first.
  5. Set an approximate timeline for all the question and keep track of it.
  6. Make sure to have a quick review of your answer sheet and all necessary fill-in details.

A quick word for parents. Let your children relax and study at their pace. Please do not talk constantly about what will happen if they do not fare well. And, do not compare them with others, especially siblings. Facilitate to help them do their best without distractions or unnecessary pressure. And once they finish their present course, let them choose their stream of study according to their interest and abilities.

All the best for your exams and may God bless and multiply all your efforts to equip yourself for a bright and blessed future.

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