Dubai: With hundreds of thousands of UAE students set to take their final term exams right after the Eid Al Fitr holiday, educators have some precious advice to keep stress levels in check.
The term-three exams will start on June 9 and continue till the end of June in most cases. Some grades in a number of schools started with the exams before the nine-day Eid holiday, which began last weekend.
Sanam Yaqub, school partnership strategies manager, University of Birmingham Dubai, said it was essential not to panic ahead of exam day. She added that leaving things for the last minute, which many students do, only builds “cramming” stress.
Instead, Yaqub advised, students should give themselves some “structure” by creating a realistic revision timetable — and sticking to it.
“So now’s the time — stop procrastinating and get started in a structured organised way, because the sooner you start, the more prepared and less stressed you will be — and the better results you’re likely to get!” Yaqub said.
She also pointed out the importance of switching off from studies every now and then. “Give yourself a reward during breaks and at the end of each day — have some tasty snacks, call a friend, do an activity you enjoy, give yourself time on social media, go for a jog, whatever works for you!”
The role of parents is paramount during exams, said Reem Bouzo, principal of American School of Creative Science, Al Layyah, Sharjah.
“Exam season can be very stressful for both students and their parents. There are many things that you can do as a parent to help your children manage exam pressure in a constructive way,” she said.
Parents can, for example, ensure healthy meals for their children, especially during exams. “Research has proven that eating the right types of food can have a significant impact on developing a child’s ability to focus and retain information,” Bouzo said.
“Ensure your children’s sleep patterns are regular — working late every night will eventually impair productivity and learning… Most importantly, nothing can replace parental support, encouragement and reassurance.”
Many students believe revision means going over everything repeatedly, but this can be counterproductive, especially when the syllabus is vast.
Instead, said Malini Murali, dean of assessment and data, GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai, students can use flowcharts, mind maps etc. to capture the key points of topics while studying. “This will make revision easier and faster… Also, go through the past years’ performance analysis with the focus on what is expected while answering specific types of questions,” Murali added.
Teachers too have a major role to play in ensuring students are well prepared for the exams, according to Lalitha Suresh, principal, GEMS Our Own Indian School, Dubai.
“It has been scientifically proven that students retain only about 10 per cent of what they learn in class unless it is revisited periodically. Hence it is natural that teachers do set homework on the topic taught in class on the same day to raise the retention to about two per cent. A simple assessment at the end of the week raises the retention to about 60 per cent. And finally, a summative assessment of two or more topics in three months will enable students to raise the retention to about 90 per cent. If this system is followed sincerely, then there should be no exam stress for students,” said Suresh.
Exam study tips
■ Give yourself enough time to revise. Make a study schedule that fits your way of studying.
■ Take breaks that rejuvenate you.
■ Organise your study space and resources (handouts, notes, practice sheets)
■ Use flowcharts, mind maps etc. to capture the key points of topics while studying. This will make revision easier and faster.
■ Staying up all night during exams to revise every chapter will only stress you out. It’s better to just review the summaries and outlines.
■ Do remember to get enough rest, sleep and exercise and to eat healthy food to sustain you through this period.
■ Organise required stationary the night before and give ample time to arrive to examination venue.