Contrary to popular belief, practical exams are as important as theory exams, especially as these exams facilitate students with the opportunity to score high marks or grades. However, practical exams demand skills in a variety of areas that you may not have much experience in. While applying practical knowledge helps in building confidence, we must acknowledge that it is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Given below are some tips and suggestions that are sure to help you score better in your practical exams:
1. First and foremost, it is important that you attend all the practical classes; this is especially crucial as, more often than not, you will be given a topic in your exam, that has been covered in one of your classes. Revise all the notes that you prepared during your practical classes before you attend the practical exam.
2. Practicals are often an extension of your theory class, and hence you must study and prepare to apply the theoretical knowledge that you have attained during the course of your study. If you are aware of the paper pattern of the particular subject then it would be easy to study and write the experiments. Be attentive in class, clear all your doubts if any. Discuss important topics with friends and share your doubts and knowledge. While studying, try to create a questionnaire with a list of questions which could possibly be asked on the test. Try integrating ideas from lectures, notes, books and other readings.
3. How many hours do you study in a day? What is the time that you prefer to study, in the morning or in the night? These points might sound trivial, but they do make a difference. Try to get good sleep the night before the exam. It’s better to study in the early morning rather than late nights. If you want to get up early and study keep an alarm, get up, wash your face and start studying. Take a break if required for about 10 min after every one hour.
4. Please keep an eye on your food habits. Eat light and be active which is better than having a heavy meal and feeling sleepy. Eat nutritious food, do light exercises and continue some of your social or recreational activities. It is OK to take a break once in a while. Remember that only a healthy body and an alert mind can help you perform in your practical exams.
5. Understand the topics that are covered in your practical classes. Practice all those topics and concepts at least twice before going to exams. If any doubts arose while mock practical runs, clear them before attending the practical examination. Practise correct techniques and safety procedures. Going through the practical records is especially important as it helps you to remember the steps that are to be followed during the exam.
6. Practical skills can not be gained by just reading the theory portion, one could only gain those skills with practice. Don’t just mug up the text, try to understand the underlying concept as it will be of immense help during your practical exam. Preparing practical notes for a particular topic can help you to answer viva questions asked by the examiner. Practice helps in achieving the required result in the allotted time. One should revise his/her practical record in which he/she has to refer steps to be followed while writing a practical exam.
7. Practical exam is all about being sharp and quick in doing things. Think smart and measure accurate. Thinking smart means doing the right thing at the right time and knowing what is right and what is wrong. Accurate measurement of chemicals in the lab during an exam helps to achieve a result is one of the examples for the above statement.
8. Try to complete the experimental procedures accurately within the allotted time and have a backup plan for every procedure. Make sure that the backup plan does not consume much of your time. Prepare two rather than one depending on the availability of time. Completing the practical is more important than finishing it (do not rush). For example, in subjects such as chemistry, be sure of the amount of compounds/solutes/solvents to be added and about the results too. Whereas, in subjects such as biology, you need to be aware of the anatomy of a specific animal or plant anatomy and scientific names which you may blindly remember. In computer science practicals, practice all programmes from the beginning of the year rather than mugging up at the end. Check the input and output of every program written. Try to write as many programmes as possible. Initially it may take time, but with practice time required for writing one programme may reduce significantly.
9. Don’t get tensed in the examination hall. Don’t forget to read the instructions and make sure you know what you are being asked to do. You should go into the exam hall being aware of the behaviour that is expected from you by the organizer. Don’t waste a lot of time on this. Make sure you enter the practical examination hall at least ten minutes before the time.
10. In the exam hall, relax and concentrate on the topic given to you. In case the topic given to you to be answered in written form, first recollect everything that you have studied about that topic. You should also pay special attention to the following:
- Take a sheet, enter the hall ticket number
- Write the topic name
- Recollect the procedures to be followed
- Draw related pictures if requires
- Write the text in simple direct steps possible
- Give a proper and impressive conclusion.
11. You should be able to explain every bit and step in the experimental procedure, if asked. Be confident of what you have written. If you don’t know the answer tell the examiner that you do not know the answer, that leaves a better impression. Do not try to cook the answer when you don’t know about it.
- Few things that can Help You Make a Positive Impression on the Examiners:
- Apparatus setting and handling
- Proper explanation of experiments that you have done
- Record maintenance
- Cleanliness in the area
- Conclude the experiment with attractive points
Things to be Remembered during a Practical Examination
- Wear a clean Apron/Labcoat
- Be careful with the chemicals in the lab
- Use gloves to protect your hands from chemicals and clean your hands after lab work
- Use goggles to protect your eyes. Check and calibrate all the instruments before starting the experimental procedure
- Be careful with the glass instruments. Place them in the protected area.
- Don’t do any unnecessary experiments with the chemicals, it may cause accident or damage.
- Always consult your instructor in case of a doubt, don’t talk with fellow students.
- In case, you are using a computer for practical examination, double-check the output in your program before showing it to the examiner.
- Turn on/off any system after taking permission from your examiner.
- Mix the solutions carefully.
Majority of the students dread a practical exam; however, with the above tips in your stride, you are sure to overcome the fear of practical exams to a great extent, and are likely to score a better grade.
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