Study Secrets to A+s, As in PMR/SPM Exams

PMR and SPM are some months away, trial exams for them are just around the corner and I've been cornered by many juniors at my high schools (and older nephews/nieces) asking me about study secrets to success in those exams, since I scored straight As in both.

What can I say? Reminds me of reporters asking us how did we get good results during the result-day. (I basically just blab something totally untrue)

I believe 60% of the people who scored high in exams generally just have better memory and are just born smart. Now I'm not saying I'm born smart, 'cause there are so many smarter people and geniuses out there, plus I really did put a lot of effort into studying for the exams, but usually people who score better are those who can understand and retain knowledge easily.

Ever heard of anyone who says: "I am so interested in so-and-so topics/subjects, and I can understand it at the moment with a little explanation, but after some time I just forgot/can't understand. So I end up not knowing what to write during exams."

Now I'm also not saying that people like that will forever be average and never score As. That's a wrong concept and I did once consider to be a teacher just to let everyone know that this is so untrue. (LOL)
I think average students just need to have a lot of personal attention and explanation from teachers, as well as doing a lot of exercises. Anyone can score good grades.

So here are my study secrets, apply when and where necessary:

-Get your languages mastered. Average students are almost always average only because of being weak in languages. Consequently they end up not understanding the other subjects in English/Malay because they don't understand the meaning of terms/sentences/words. And even if you explain and they finally understand, they still can't transfer the knowledge to paper because they have no idea how to write and explain what they know in a language they are weak in. I think this is the most crucial step and many students need to realize this. If they can master the language, what's stopping them from mastering the knowledge?

-Organize study groups! This is so effective, especially if you have like-minded friends who are keen to study. Actually it doesn't hurt to joke around for a while, just know when to stop. Find the balance between being serious and humour, and you'll all be fine. I think this is my only major "secret"!

-Self-study. I only do this when exams are around the corner. Usually I'm like "so many subjects, which to study?" and when the exam timetable is out (a week before), only then I start planning when to study what, because it's easier. I study right up till the last minute, especially when it's a huge exam (mid year, end of year, trial, etc).

Yes this means a few hours of sleep, burning the midnight oil and doses of caffeine while munching on every page of the thick reference books, just to be sure I didn't leave out any tiny piece of info. Of course I don't recommend everyone to do the same, because health deteriorates, risk of blanking/sleeping during exams, yadayadayada but that is what I did and I am being honest here. You can try during one of the minor exams. If you can push through, welcome to the Midnight Oil Club. If not, you're better off studying consistently everyday and drilling through exercises. :)

I'm told that this is only effective for students who are so afraid of blanking during exams because they haven't read up on certain information recently. The majority of students will just fall asleep halfway through burning midnight oil. 

-Know which are your weakest topics/subjects/parts in exam papers and drill yourself accordingly. Sometimes there is just not enough time to go through everything so focus on the stuff that you understand the least first.

-Tips and tricks. You can learn many tips/tricks to write better answers which lead to better grades. Sometimes these are taught by school teachers, mostly by tuition teachers, and if you ask around you can probably get a whole box of tips from friends. Stay up-to-date about the wants of Ministry of Education. They change stuff a lot, all the time.

-Do one question on one piece of paper. This is soooooo true! Why? Because it lets you do the questions you know first, and leave the difficult ones until later, and even lets you do extras if you are not sure on the previous questions you have chosen, and then arrange them by sequence properly and clip up neatly! Using less paper and saving environment is the last thing you can have on your mind during big public exams. If it eases your guilt, the papers will probably be recycled.

What I did not do but you are generally very, very much advised to do:

-Pay attention in class: Not all the time. I know, this sounds like a bad student but believe it or not, many top students (and I'm just average by comparison!) don't. They end up self-studying and actually understanding. If you can't, please pay attention in class. I do try to, but when swamped by co-curricular activities and talking with friends which are so much more fun and late homework piling up, I just give up.

-Take notes during class: Nope. Truthfully I spend my time in class doing late homework, copying from the blackboard and gossiping with friends. Like really. But take notes if you have particularly bad memory.

-Ask teachers if there are any questions/problems: Not all the time. Occasionally, yes. But during lessons, sometimes it's hard to ask, and most of the time when you want to ask them after lessons, they are just not there. And always there when you already have the answers. Weird right? But yes, this is still a good study tip.

-Do and pass up homework on time: Nope. Lazy bums will agree with me on this. I hand up homework late (for like 2 weeks ago work), or sometimes when it's marked and given back, I gave up even passing up, and I generally do my homework in class. Sometimes when time is running out I just copy from others. NO IT'S NOT GOOD TO DO THIS. Homework is a form of drilling to help you understand the concepts and practise using them. So please do your homework and hand up on time. (will proclaiming this known fact do any lazy student any good?)

-Organize a study plan/timetable: Nope. I did try, but I end up messing things up and doing stuff when I shouldn't (on the timetable), so I don't anymore. I am a very disorganized person.

-Get a lot of sleep before exams: Definite no. I burn the midnight oil. If I get a lot of sleep before exams, I end up feeling guilty, mind-blank because the knowledge isn't fresh in mind, and generally score badly. That's why a 3-week non-stop exam period makes me go crazy, because there are exams everyday and nights are sleepless consecutively five days per week. I hibernate for 24 hours afterward. But for those of you not used to sleeping for only a few hours, please get some sleep. No good to fall sick! 

So there they are, all "study secrets" that I can think of!
Hopefully I won't be as disorganized and lazy in college...but I'll find the balance between laziness and actual studying, like always.
(because I'm probably one of those kiasu students, but also one of those "smart" people who are aware of what is important, what is not, what I can get away with not doing properly, what I can't get away with and have to work hard on, etc. Is smart the right word? Haha.) :P

Study smart, not study hard. Don't work hard on something not worth it and ignore important ones.
Chill, it's not nearly as hard as you think, you just have to be bothered to study and do revision. Trust me.
Good luck to all of you guys taking PMR/SPM!

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