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A fail-proof strategy to prep for your tests

By Vaibhav Devanathan and Kanika Jain
January 13, 2016 13:00 IST
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Dearest young aspirants, here's how you can take charge of your career and life :-)

Everyone makes resolutions at this time of year, but very few are as good at making resolutions as those who are preparing for competitive exams.

In many ways, the entire prep cycle is an endless series of resolutions, usually of the kind: I Will Start Studying Tomorrow.

So here are the most common New Year's Resolutions of a competitive exam taker, a how they almost always fail, and fail-proof tips on how to keep them. All the best!

What New Year means for Indian students

#1. "I will attend every CAT / GRE / TOEFL / JEE / GMAT class"

What will probably happen

Your attendance percentage will resemble that of a 93 year old member of the Lok Sabha.

How you can actually keep your resolution

Ensure that you pay for as high as proportion of your class as possible, and choose the coach with the highest possible price that you are willing to pay. This always works.

Falling in love with someone in your exam class also works to increase attendance, but does not always improve performance.

#2. "I will use my holidays two months before my competitive exam to study everything, and after that, focus only on mock tests."

What will probably happen

You will win an award for making a good joke (the statement above).

How you can actually keep your resolution

Plan a trip to the most boring city you know, and stay with the most boring possible relative in that city.

Before you go, sign up with a coaching centre in that city for your exam of interest, to take two mock tests a day.

Disable your phone's data connection when you reach. It's amazing how much work you can do when the alternative is death by boredom.

#3. "I will not violently attack that neighbour who loudly talks about her cousin's friend's grandmother's pet's owner who placed #3 all India in the competitive exam I'm going to give."

What will probably happen

You will attack the neighbour, and go to jail, and miss the exam.

In any case, preparing for a really difficult test isn't that different from jail. Except in jail, there's a possibility of breaking out and escaping.

How you can actually keep your resolution

Become a hermit while preparing for competitive exams.

If possible, grow a long beard; it has the same effect on neighbours as apples have on doctors.

#4. "I will create a daily schedule for studying and set deadlines for myself"

What will probably happen

Your daily schedule will be altered to fit in 12 hours of sleep and 11 hours of procrastination.

How you can actually keep your resolution

Instead of creating a rigid schedule, create a flexible system where you can reward yourself with ice cream each time you finish something.

Ice cream is good for everything except staying healthy.

Watching movies or a little TV after a long day of work can be refreshing as long as you don't overdo it; do not get hooked on to when you start your preparation.

#5. "I will not do 90 per cent of my preparation in the week leading up to my test date"

What will probably happen

You will keep your resolution by doing 90 per cent of your preparation the day before the test date.

How you can actually keep your resolution

A month before the exam, lock yourself in a room with nothing but your exam preparation material. There's only so many hours you can pass by playing cross and naughts alone.

#6. "I will not fear the competitive exam more than death itself"

What will probably happen

For you, the competitive examination centre will become the lovechild of Room 101 and Nazi concentration camp.

How you can actually keep your resolution

Watch Sookhi Naali Mein Behti Hui Laash the day before the exam. Nothing could be scarier than that.

On a more serious note, research each possible benefit that a good performance in the exam can bring -- focus on the long term, and the great institutions you can gain access to: read placement average CTC figures, look at lists of graduation chief guests, stalk famous alumni.

Fill your mind with long term benefits as motivation, and any fear will cower in a corner.

The authors, Vaibhav Devanathan (an IIT Bombay alumnus) and Kanika Jain (a student of HR College), work with -- a product that aims to educate using humour.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Danish Siddique/ Reuters

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Vaibhav Devanathan and Kanika Jain