By Dr. Subhash Nair | on Monday, February 25, 2019 The CBSE Board examination for this year commenced and thousands of students of class X and XII from Indian Schools in Qatar start their examination in the first week of March. The CBSE secondary and Senior Secondary curriculum is perceived to be one of the toughest and the examination is difficult to score high marks for some, at least in some subjects. The teachers and parents set high expectations of their wards’ achievement. The examinations are held in centers different from their own school and this causes new problems and demand them to get along with totally strange environment at least on the first day of the examination. These factors cause a lot of stress among students as they are aware their high achievement alone gives their parents and teachers a lot of joy. However, at the end, both teachers and parents very well accept their wards’ achievement irrespective of the marks that they score. At least some students understand these dynamics a little late. All schools counsel students and train them to reduce stress and to face the examination in the right way. High achievers are under stress as their schools expect them to emerge as toppers among the Qatar Schools and in the Gulf. They also work hard to achieve A1 grades in all the subjects and to attain CBSE Merit Certificate that is awarded to the 0.1% of the top scorers. The competition that exists in Qatar is very healthy as the schools as part of CBSE Gulf Sahodaya collaborate to support students from all the schools. An excellent example for this is their web portal https://preboard.org/ which posts the class X and XII pre-board question papers of all the schools. E-learning portals of some schools like that of Shantiniketan Indian School is open to all students from all the schools. http://www.sisqatar.info/learning/ Schools provide excellent resources, teach based on innovative strategies and methods, and train and empower teachers to make the teaching-learning process effective and meaningful. The competition that these students experience is in a way healthy as they compete with themselves. Schools provide meaningful feedback and remedial teaching to students to support in their preparation for examination. Classroom instruction and preparation for examination are two phases which are equally important for the student’s high achievement in the final examination. Children having excellent learning skills find it easy to prepare well for their examination and for them high achievement is a habit formed over a period. Schools use digital content and learning platforms to make learning interesting and enjoyable. Certain learning platforms like EduBrisk help students to diagnose their learning gaps and scale down learning to the facts and attributes of the concepts that they had learnt in the lower classes without wasting a lot of time in digging for information. The key to attaining the ability to answer questions correctly is having greater clarity of concepts and the confidence emerged from metacognition, the knowledge of one’s own awareness. Children resort to both focused and diffused learning during their preparation for examination. Focused learning for a certain period, say ten minutes must be followed by at least five minutes of diffused learning during which the child goes for a walk or dance or sing a song or do something else that gives relaxation. The neural connections established through the focused learning will be reinforced during the diffused learning process. Many students resort to continuous focused learning that may cause fatigue to their brain and leave the mind confused due to lack of reinforcement. After reading a piece of content trying to recollect the essence of what is learnt will reinforce learning and strengthen memory. Many students resort to effective mnemonic techniques to strengthen memory. Explaining the concept to a peer may also reinforce learning. During the revision time interleaving rather than proceeding in a particular sequence through chapters may help in better preparation for examination as they are expected to correctly associate the questions to the right content and concept to answer it well. Going through the content at random not in any particular sequence during revision is better for this purpose. Chunking is another method to gradually develop concept in our mind. Rather than memorizing in a rot fashion, chunking helps to give a structure for the concepts in our mind. A few significant aspects or facts related to the concept form the initial chunk that is kept in our mind first. Every time when we revise the concept some more related facts are added to that chunk and this chunking strengthens the concept. The initial chunk that we formed in our mind helps to answer the question and what we added subsequently to the chunk helps to make the answer rich to score better marks. This means that scoring better marks in an examination is not just a coincidence. It is a result of a purposeful preparation. As we practice again and again to perform a dance or song well there must be deliberate practice to answer questions well. High achievers do this all the time and their preparation for examination appears effortless. It is extremely important to give our brain sufficient rest every day to ensure its better performance during the examination. Students must sleep well for not less than six hours at night preferably in total darkness. This will rejuvenate the brain cells and will give them power for better neural connections which are essential for memory, intelligence, and reasoning that are needed for a better performance during any examination. Having healthy food rich in fruits and vegetable, drinking a lot of water, and regular physical exercise are also essential to ensure our children doing well in their studies and performing well in their examination. Junk food and carbonated drinks must be minimized and regularity of meals of balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals must be ensured. A few minutes of prayer or meditation will help in calming the mind and to reduce stress. Children must be told that a little bit of stress is essential for better performance. However, unreasonably high level of stress will reduce performance very much. Parents and teachers must show signs of increased trust in children and must give a reassurance that their wards’ results and marks will not affect the way they love their children. Parents must pay great attention to provide a suitable atmosphere at home for their ward to prepare for the examination which includes a better study space, quite atmosphere, a little bit of sacrifice of TV and other entertainment time during the study hours and dining together. Try to avoid get-togethers and partying till the exams are over. Stop advising and correcting them now. That period is over and now is the time to demonstrate trust and confidence. Allow them to resort to their style of learning. Don’t try now to correct learning style now. Let them feel our support and concern through our action and through small sacrifices. Encourage them to call their teacher if they are stuck with a doubt instead of wasting a lot of time digging to clear it. Encourage them to write the answers as they revise rather than just depending on reading. Help our children to reach the examination center half an hour before the reporting time. Let them be completely relaxed before the commencement of the examination. They must be encouraged to stop any kind of reading or revising at least half an hour before they enter the examination room. This will give a lot of relaxation to their brain which needs to be active continuously for three hours during the examination. Encourage children to make full use of the time during the study leave and during the days between examinations. Let them wear their best school uniform and appear smart on exam days. Wish them the very best and pray of their success.