We all of us experienced the normal fear of examinations during our school or college studies. In psychological terms, it is called as ‘exam anxiety’. In general, the optimum level of anxiety is good for success in exams. Too much of fear reduces the level of self-confidence drastically. Similarly, no-fear status makes the student careless in preparation. Both the extreme conditions are harmful for success in exams. A moderate level of anxiety gives good result. Thus, the examinee is to enjoy the exam fear in good spirit. Both the parents and teachers are also getting the induced exam fear due to examinees. But with their maturity and experiences, they are able to guide and facilitate the student to overcome the exam period difficulties. In IGNOU, few students approach the regional centre to convey their grievance of inability to clear the paper even in 3 to 5 attempts. Those instances motivated me to write this article to benefit thousands of distance learners studying through open and distance learning mode. The examination has three stages of activities. They are: Pre-Exam Phase, Exam Phase, and Post-Exam Phase.
Pre-exam Phase Activities
• Timely submit assignments well before the semester / year end examination
• Read study material provided by Distance Education University
• Attempt all self-check exercises in self-learning material (SLM)
• Read ‘Possible Answers’ given at the end of lessons / units
• Read the copy of your assignments submitted.
• Read previous Exam Question papers and mark page numbers of book, for each Questions
• Write mock test at home
• Correct your answers yourself (self- evaluator)
• Identify ‘repeated’ questions and prepare answers for them
• Use voice recorder (in mobile phone) to check your answers with book
• Use black board or note-book to workout answers
· Sleep well at nights to strengthen memory efficiency
• Stress load should be optimistic (neither 0 nor 100%)
• Confuse the answers and get clarifications yourself while reading books; so as to avoid
Confusion at Exam Hall
• See exam time table / Date sheet, well in advance
*Download Hall Ticket and keep ready the Special Permission form, if any
Exam Phase Activities:
The duration of exam Question Paper is to seen, so as to decide the speed of answering. The total words required for full Question paper can be estimated by calculating the word limits specified for each question. For example, the main answer sheet booklet contains a total 16 pages (front & back side) ; similarly, the supplementary answer sheet booklet contains a total 8 pages. Each page contains 22 printed ruled lines per page. On an average, one can write 6 words per line. That is, 22 lines x 6 words = 135-150 words per page. For answering a full question paper with a total requirement of 2000 words, 15-16 hand written answer pages is just sufficient. To write 150 words, it may take 3-5 minutes in normal mental status. For 10 pages, it may require approximately 60 minutes to write. But, at exam hall, it may differ depending upon the thinking ability, flow of answers coming from mind to hand etc. While answering the questions, the time budgeting for each question is also a wise operation to be done at exam hall. Time management skill is one of the essential skills required for examinees. The content should be organized in sequential / logical order with systematic flow of answer. The answers reflect the memory power as well as the extra- knowledge, experiences and skills of the examinee. So, one has to project what he / she know; what / how he/she understand the question. Some time your answer may deviate from correct answer. But your sincere and systematic attempt will also give good impression about you to the examiner. Sharply answer to the question in first sentence of the answer itself; then elaborate it. In other words, the reply or response to the question should be conveyed at the beginning itself ( not at the last).
Normally the questions may have only one (single) part or multi-parts ( a,b,c,d…..). Some time, a question uses two items in single sentence with conjunction ‘and’ (give examples ‘and’ justify). Try to note marks for each part of question to quantify your answers. Attempt each and every part of question with separate headings or sub-headings, to show distinctly. Whenever necessary, use bullet point presentation style to improve speed of writing. Different students answer differently, in the sequence of question – answer flow. Some start from ‘short’ answer questions to ‘long’ answer questions; some students start from ‘Long’ answer and end at ‘short’ answer questions. The load to brain can be given in incremental pattern from small to big. (It is recommended to follow psychological research findings and evidences, if possible.) Answer the simple questions or well- known first, then less-known, and then un-known etc. The incubation period to retrieve answer from brain (mental processing time) is inevitable for some tuff questions. If confident, try to read full question paper from beginning to end; otherwise, read only one question and answer it, then read the next question to proceed further. Attempt the time consuming questions first; followed by less time takers.
Presentation of Answers: Let the answers be in easily readable format with legible hand writing. Avoid using too-long sentences; Use 1,2,3… or a,b,c… for pointed answers; Use good, (your) lucky pen; Black color ink is highly attractive for Examiners as compared to routine blue colour; Use few bright colors for highlighting the main points of answer; Do not mix too much of Hindi in English medium answers (vice-versa) because the evaluators are different for different medium of answer sheets; Write two paragraphs per page, instead of single long paragraph in whole page.
Post-Exam Activities: Check the exam results at site within 2-3 months and apply for re-evaluation if required. Even the photocopy of the copy of Answer Papers can be obtained to physically check. Timely apply for next examination with improved preparation. For immediate purposes, collect Course completion certificate from Regional Centre for next admission/Job Interview purposes.
The skill of answering the questions in the exam will develop gradually as we practice. As both the content and presentation are important for the answers, one should be conscious of balancing both in the exam papers. More importantly, the time management is essential skill for every examinee. Let us improve all the skills of examinees for successful completion of study.
(The author is Regional Director of IGNOU Regional Centre at Port Blair and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 8900936718)
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