Dubai: From waking up at 3.30am to watching an episode of Friends in breaks, UAE school toppers who recently aced the Indian CBSE and CISCE board exams have revealed their tactics for studying hard and de-stressing adequately.
The last two weeks saw students in the UAE, alongside counterparts in India, receive their results for grade 10 and 12 exams under the CBSE, or Central Board of Secondary Education, India’s largest school board.
Separately, students also received results for the grade 10 ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) and grade 12 ISC (Indian Secondary Certificate), both held by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE).
Many students in the UAE scored close to 100 per cent in all these tough exams, seen as the gateway to a successfully university tenure.
Gulf News spoke with some students who topped the score chart at their school. They spoke about their normal study routines as well as their ramped up revision habits going into the exams. The students also parted with a word of advice for pupils who will be taking their boards next time.
Sanchita Nagarajan, 97 per cent, CBSE grade 12, GEMS Our Own English High School Dubai
I’m a morning person, I would get up at 4.30am on school days and exercise for 15 minutes to get energised. Then I would study the portion taught in school the previous day. After coming home from school, I would take a break and nap for half an hour. I would finish my homework and any project – I never kept projects till the last day before deadline.
During exam season, I used to wake up a little later, around 7am. I made sure I studied the hard subjects first, and this went on till afternoon. After my break, I studied the easier topics in the evening, starting around 5pm and finishing around 10pm. I made sure I took little breaks and snacks in between, but nothing heavy – just fruits, salads and toast.
I used to study with my sister, who boosted my motivation; and we kept each other focused. We made sure to check on each other that we were paying attention.
My advice is: pay attention in class; don’t miss your classes. That’s where most of the portion is covered and learning begins in class. You also need to take breaks when revising – the woodcutter needs to stop chopping so he can sharpen his axe.
Vaishvi Seth, 98.5 per cent, ISC grade 12, GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai.
On normal school days, I would come home, eat and rest. By 6pm, I was on my study desk. It was just to acquaint myself with what the teacher taught on that day. I did practice maths and accounts every day for half an hour.
When the time came to study for the boards, I turned the focus on past papers. You’re already done with you portion by then at school, and it’s time to do the past papers. You have to do more questions than they can ask you, so you’re ready for anything that comes your way. If you do enough papers, you’re pretty much set. When the exams come, the questions will vary a little bit – it won’t be a completely different ball game.
So on my typical day during revision time, I would do three papers – each was three hours long. I would wake up at 8am and start doing them. After dinner at around 6pm, I would study those papers again with a fresh mind. Of course I took breaks – I would watch one episode of Friends every break.
I think it’s hard to give advice on studying because everyone is different. But I would say don’t lose hope and have a good support system – someone who will be there for you to cater to your quips and nuances.
Buvaneswari Jayasankar, 99.2 per cent, CBSE grade 10, Indian High School Dubai
My normal days meant lots of homework after coming home. Homework is a kind of daily revision of what happened in school that day. When you see your notebook full, your interest in the subject grows.
For the exams, we got a lot of study holidays. To be honest, I felt more relaxed during the study holidays because there’s no homework, no chapters to cover, no extracurricular work - all that is behind you.
The best way to study is to wake up at 3.30am; it’s the best time to get stuff into your mind. After freshening up, I made sure I had lots of water throughout the day. I also walked around at home a lot, going to different rooms. You have to change your environment, otherwise you get sleepy and bored. Early morning is the time to get in the most information in the least amount of time.
At 6.30am, I would have breakfast and take a nap. It was then time to study again. I would continue taking little naps, light snacks – and lots of water. You can’t study continuously otherwise you drain your brain.
I would also tell others to take up a hobby or leisure activity during their breaks, or spend time with family. But don’t do anything addictive, like going on social media during breaks, because once you open it, you can’t stop scrolling. You need to rest your eyes and mind.
Krish Nair, 99.25 per cent, ISC grade 12, Ambassador School Dubai
On regular school days, I would revise at least one subject a day at home. After two or three hours of that, I would play video games for like an hour or two. I would then have dinner and get ready to sleep. But my schedule wasn’t so rigid; it is not the hours that count. Your mind has to be at ease. Some students study way too many hours.
When exam season was approaching, I went into top gear. I took every school exam seriously, as if it was the last exam I would take. I also had a set plan – if I have so many chapters and so many days before the exam day, I would chart how much I needed to cover per day. I also studied fast so I could get time to revise and go over what I had studied again.
I’m not someone who likes to study late at night. I would sleep at around 10pm and wake up around 4am to study.
My advice is: dream big but also make every day count. Work hard every day to come closer and closer to that dream. I wasn’t as studious before. I used to play seven to eight hours a day.
Varun Jagannath, 98.8 per cent, CBSE grade 10, Delhi Private School Sharjah
Every day, after coming home from school, I would revise a concept. For maths and science, I would study more questions. I would start at around 4.30pm and finish around 9pm. I would take a break whenever I felt confident about a chapter, to relax and be ready for the next one.
During boards, you have to take both studies and your breaks more seriously. Go play with your friends and don’t think about anything else, stay in that moment. I went to the gym even the day before the exam; you have to let the stress out.
I used to have study holidays and wake up around 5.30am – I would hit the books immediately as you’re fresh then. I would take breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, making use of all hours I’m awake to study.
I would tell those taking the boards to relax. Don’t push the panic button. No matter how much you study, your mind plays games on you. You have to be relaxed for the next day, the day of the exam.