It's that time of the year again. Tensions run high, there is a lot of pressure at home and school to study…study…study. Here are some tips to help you swot.

The countdown has begun. In a few days, students across the country will huddle over papers, busily answering questions in the exams. While the term ‘board exams’ typically evokes dread is most students, there is no need for panic. On the contrary, if you approach your exams with a calm, collected attitude, you are likely to perform optimally.

In fact, the habits you cultivate in the process of studying are more likely to be useful to you in the long run than the content you have to study or the marks you get. Exams, approached in the right spirit, can help cultivate discipline, perseverance and time-management skills. In order to minimise your fears and maximise your performance, here are some tips:

The entire syllabus across various subjects may seem daunting. The best way to tackle a big job is to break it down into smaller, manageable units. So, when you plan your study timetable, it might help to list the various chapters in each subject on a piece of paper and then approach a few units at a time.

Make a weekly and daily timetable and try to stick to them as far as possible.

In order to break the monotony of studying, intersperse something you enjoy studying with something you don’t. Likewise, alternate difficult lessons with easier ones.

For every hour of study, give yourself a 10 to 15-minute break where you do something that you enjoy.

Make sure you get enough sleep at night. Drowsiness, due to lack of sleep, will impede your ability to absorb and remember information most effectively.

Cut down on the time you watch television.

Do not compare notes with friends and get ‘psyched’ by the amount they have studied. Each person has an individual style and pace of studying.

During meal times, do not talk about your studies or exams. Tell your family members that it is healthy for you to take your mind off your exams for sometime everyday.

If you find yourself getting extremely nervous, take slow, deep breaths, go for a walk or listen to soothing music to melt those fears away.

In addition to studying, doing well in exams involves strategic test-taking skills. Hone your test-taking abilities by doing previous exam papers under authentic exam conditions. Time yourself, do not take breaks in between and correct your papers to get an idea of how you must approach the actual exam.

No matter what your parents and teachers tell you, Board exams are not the be-all and end-all of life. While it is natural and healthy to feel slightly anxious, do not drive yourself into a panic. Put your best foot forward and study hard, but don’t lose sleep or cry over your performance.

If for some reason, you don’t do as well as you would have liked, remember that life will give you umpteen chances to prove your mettle. It is up to you to seize those opportunities without giving up. And, finally, if your parents are more anxious than you, tell them that stress, in addition to being contagious, is counterproductive. Good luck and don’t forget to take those deep breaths before taking the plunge!

(The author is the Director of PRAYATNA, Centre for Educational Assessment & Intervention. She may be reached at arunasankara@gmail.com.)