Catching ‘em old

With the Board exams just around the corner, this week’s column gives some common-sense advice to students on how best to prepare and organise themselves during study ‘hols’, a period that is deemed very important in the academic calendar, mainly because it allows schools to collect fees without having to teach the students anything.

Before we start, let me narrate this simple but illuminative parable on the importance of studying smart and doing well in exams:

Once there were two students, whom we will call ‘A’ and ‘B’. ‘A’ was studious and sincere. He never missed a class, listened to his teachers, wrote down the notes, though he played sports he cut down on them and worked extra hard before the exams and took all the tests.

Boy ‘B’, on the other hand, never had his mind on studies. He bunked classes frequently, did not read books either, missed tests and, worse, spent his time playing.

You know what happened after some time? Yes, boy ‘A’ was richly rewarded for his efforts as he came out with top honours both at school and then at college and now he is an important officer at a private company.

Boy ‘B’, who did not pay enough attention to studies, regularly failed in school tests and eventually could not even take his Board exams. He ended up owning the company that boy ‘A’ works for. Boy ‘B’ is: Sachin Tendulkar.

No, drop that bat! You can’t go out and play now. If you had really wanted to become another Tendulkar 1) you would have started a lot earlier. 2) Also, it is quite possible that you are a girl.

Anyway, getting back to studies, it is advisable that you begin by charting a handy schedule for yourself. If you manage to stick to the timetable, you will not only be successful in your exams, in time you will also possibly carry this forward into your professional life and be a source of big nuisance for others in the office by being anal about it. In general, doers do, the rest create timetable.

Before you work out a schedule, you must also understand your body clock. There are phases in the day when your body is naturally active and feeling all alive. And then there are stretches when the senses are dim and dull. The trick is to pick those periods of pulsation to carry out your studies so that soon enough — this is the power of planning — you will feel dreary all through the day.

No seriously, once you prepare a timetable to suit your body system, you can get down in right earnest to tackling the subjects. Most students are in a quandary as what to study first, the subjects they are fond of or the ones they are weak in. Again, there is no hard and fast rule, which is another way of saying: I am equally clueless. No wonder academicians tend to use this line a lot.

Anyway, simple logic suggests that you should focus more on the subjects and lessons that you find difficult or less interesting. But even more simple logic confirms that you will not do that. So just about go your normal way.

In between, relax. Take a walk. Or do yoga. Or listen to music. Or attempt a crossword. Do anything that will help calm your nerves. You will need them, if not for the crucial exams then most certainly ahead of the even more vital India-Pakistan World Cup encounter.

And, in the last lap of your preparation: Lock yourself in your room, switch off your mobile, close your laptop. That is, basically become a caveman. That is how you prepare for future. Now, get down to solving question papers from the previous years. This is an important exercise. It will show you how prepared are you for the actual challenge. It will also tell you how stagnant the education system is in the country.

But it is there. There is no wishing it away. As the wise men have said before, those who fail in exams are condemned to repeat the same exams. But those who pass out with distinction unfortunately choose to write even more exams. Which makes it clear that there is no escaping the exams when you are young. Which is also why the actual aim of you all young students must be to get old as early as possible

Come to think of it, the education system may be already helping you become just that.

PS: I realise I have dealt irresponsibly what is an issue of life and death in these parts. Sorry for my levity. In my defence though, my daughter generally doesn’t read me.