Ace your exams with these nifty tactics and tricks

  • In Your Face
  • Wednesday, 24 Feb 2016

EXAMS. They're a rite of passage and a dreaded challenge in the lives of many people. Whatever form they come in, be it the SPM, STPM or A-Levels, we've all had to - or will - face them.

I struggled with my exams during my time, barely passing them. So, when I heard that a friend of mine, 19-year old Cassandra Yeoh Shu Wen (pix) overcame dyslexia to achieve two solid Bs in her A-Levels Law and Economics papers, I was really intrigued.

It's certainly interesting when you consider two facts.

The first is that dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing.

Secondly, the brain of a person with dyslexia has to work five times as hard as a "normal" brain when reading, writing or processing language through other means.

Considering the two subjects Yeoh sat for - Law and Economics - generally require a lot of reading, I wanted to learn how Yeoh did as well as she did. Her techniques could help those heading towards their exams later this year achieve similar successes - regardless of whether they live with dyslexia or not.

She began by saying that she would record her lectures for later listening.

" I would record my lectures and listen to my lectures in the car or as I'm doing other things. I would also write down notes in the lectures as I need to keep myself from daydreaming. These notes can be broken down into smaller mind-maps to cover specific topics, which help me understand things better," Yeoh explained.

The Brickfields Asia College (BAC) student added that she would get past-year questions and work on them with the close cooperation of her lecturers, adding that this was vital as examiners - even ones based abroad - were creatures of habit.

"I would focus on topics popular with the examiners. I worked very closely with my lecturers, and I tried to slot time with them before and after class time," said Yeoh, who was grateful to her lecturers for coming into college early and staying back late to help her.

Yeoh added that she received help from BAC managing director S. Raja Singham and his brother Aria Singham, who was her Economics lecturer

"They oversaw my welfare and gave me extra assistance," she said, highlighting that it helps to also develop a close working relationship with the relevant college administrators.

As for other study tips, Yeoh told me that she found the early hours of the morning to be the best time for studying.

"I woke up at 4am and studied until 6am every day. This was my most productive time as I could fully concentrate without distractions. Generally, when I studied I would turn off mobile data on my smartphone to minimise distractions," Yeoh said.

When it came to where to study, she said that she'd study at the college library whenever she could.

"I would feel more productive and more motivated when everyone around me is studying," said Yeoh.

And she surprised me when she said she found that helping her classmates understand what they were studying boosted her own retention and comprehension of her study materials.

"Don't be selfish with your knowledge, with what you've learned. Be patient and approachable," said Yeoh.

However, she had one caution - every student must know what works best for them and be flexible in adapting her study techniques to their own strengths and weaknesses. This, frankly, makes a lot of sense to me.

Indeed, her methods are sound and the logic behind her study plan and strategy is solid. Perhaps you or someone you care for could try them out?

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