For American-born, British poet T. S. Eliot,
“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”
Etcetera, etcetera. He was of course looking with a jaundiced eye upon the coming of spring which for him stirred up painful memories of happiness lost, all of which had lain dormant in the winter.
For millions of students in India, however, April is indeed a “cruell” month, full of the angst born of tension and stress as exams take over one’s life at college level. However, at least there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the May holidays sailing up on the horizon.
For our school and junior college children, however, February and March are the months to look out for, the culmination of years of anxiety as they prepare for all important first and second board exams, the nationwide equivalents to the SSC and the HSC. And as the midnight oil glows early and late, and the candle is burned with a vengeance at both ends, sometimes it is the very last lap when it seems impossible to cope with the burden of expectations placed upon narrow, unformed shoulders.
Which is a pity, because at this point, you should have finished your revision at least once and are into the final leg of the race, and if, as many of us do, you have procrastinated to the bitter end, there is not much you can do, except put your head down and grind on grimly, hoping for the best and that your memory does not fail you. In all probability, if you have been listening at least some of the time in class, it won’t.
Interestingly, we dug into our own memories of how we prepared for the exams and almost universally, stretching across generations, the stories were similar. Sitting with your books open and yawning over the pages past midnight is all very well, but even more important is the need for mental relaxation that actually allows the brain some rest, both from studying and from the anxiety that comes from not studying, which in turn leads to forgetting and finally panic! And mental relaxation just will not be achieved till the body is also at rest. This is, of course, assuming that you have been doing some study in the course of the year. Even now, however, there is much to be gained by taking steps to ensuring that you arrive at your exams calm and prepared. And to see what others who have been through the grind like you, feel about the process, we asked around. And here’s what we got.
Roshan Noronha (21) is a fourth year student of Marine Engineering at the Tolani Maritime Institute, a topper in his school who secured 89.64% in the SSC. “Choose a proper study time, which is convenient for you, like early morning or late night, when there is silence and adjust your sleep cycle according to the time you choose,” he says. “The key to studying for me is concentration for a brief amount of time. Study properly for 30-40 minutes and then give your brain a 5-10-minute break and then continue. The break helps you study for longer periods of time. But never distract yourself by using Facebook or Instagram.”