With the board exams round the corner, ‘its time to get serious about studying. Here are some tips to make it easier for you to allot time to studying.

So your board exams here, and this is the 100th article you’re reading about it this year. At this point, you must have heard so much (often unsolicited) advice from those around you that you could probably write your own book titled 101 Things A Student Should Definitely Do While Preparing for Exams (According to Everyone Else But Me). It’s likely that this article won’t tell you anything you don’t already know, but I urge you to keep reading, if not for any other reason but to prolong your break before heading back to solving differential equations.

At this stage, your focus should only be on learning the essentials. So, avoid cracking open a new chapter and spending the better part of a day on it when it’s worth only two marks overall. As you go over your materials, note down all the problems that you’re unable to solve, and fix a time with a teacher you know well to go over the doubts with you at a set time everyday. If you’re considering joining a new tuition class, ask yourself if you have the time to adjust to your new teacher’s method of teaching (more difficult to do in a group class than an individual one).

One method of learning that usually comes in handy is making checklists or drawing up daily time tables. However, the place where most people goof on this is when they draw timetables for their ideal self. So maybe you want to study for seven hours with only a half hour break in the middle, and wake up at 3.00 AM every day, but let’s face it, if you couldn’t do it before, now is not the time to start practicing. It’s better to make a time table for your real self, where you study with realistic breaks, and cover chapters at the speed you know you can manage and not the speed at which you would like to go.

Take a break

Don’t shun human interaction completely during this time, since it’s what will keep you sane! Some people benefit from having study-buddies, people who perform at a similar level academically, and who study at a similar pace. Others enjoy the company of anti-study-buddies, friends who’ll talk about anything but exams. In both cases, avoid talking to friends who have historically had the tendency to incite mass panic or feelings of low self-esteem during test or exam time (if you’re that person, don’t feel bad, your friends will catch up with you over coffee in April).

It’s also important to do things to de-stress during your break time. This could be anything that you enjoy — knitting, playing cricket or strumming your guitar. If you’re the type who likes to listen to music while studying, try to listen to ambient or lounge music — essentially, music devoid of lyrics, so that you’re not distracted by the temptation to sing along. Avoid turning on the TV or playing video games, since those activities tend to suck you in, and before you know it, your half hour break turns into a three-hour marathon of “Grey’s Anatomy” reruns.

Accept whatever food comes your way from your parent and avoid eating out. You’re going to need all the energy you can get, so put the diet on hold for a while. However, exercise is good, so if you’ve already got the habit, keep it up. If you don’t, then take short walks during your breaks, so that you don’t start getting aches and pains from sitting in the same position while studying.

And don’t forget: (a) You’ve probably been writing exams since the time you outgrew your diapers and (b) While this is not the first exam you’ll ever have to write, chances are it’s definitely not going to be your last. So there’s no real reason to pile more stress onto this.

All the best and here’s wishing you nothing more than pleasantly fuzzy memories of this period, years from now!

Eat, exercise and excel

Don’t avoid breakfast at any cost. This applies even after your exams are over!

Make the switch to skimmed milk if you’re going to be consuming a lot of milk-based products during this time.

If you’re feeling hungry between meals, try to snack on healthy foods — fruit salad with custard, hummus and pita bread, low-fat oatmeal cookies, grilled vegetable sandwiches, cucumber and carrot slices with a yoghurt-based dip etc. Avoid snacking on fried items as far as possible.

If you’ve already got an exercise routine in place — don’t stop!

However, if you don’t have a routine, now is not the time to make good on that resolution to hit the gym. Instead, a short walk and stretching exercises during your breaks will help. Doing simple exercises in yoga and pranayama would be beneficial too.

Last minute

Avoid learning new chapters now. Only focus on improving on the things you already know.

Avoid the “What parts do you think are important/can be skipped?” conversation with friends. Ask your teachers for this advice instead.

Don’t hesitate to ask a parent for help while revising. They could go over the study material with you, especially the parts with formulae and the chemical reactions.

Do not get bogged down by pressure from family and friends, but assure them that you will give it your best. These marks can only make a difference to your life in the short-term, not in the long-term.