Best ways to prepare for a competitive exam

If you are planning to appear for a competitive exam, do go through this article once. You will find many tips that will be helpful in your preparation and will give you an edge over the other applicants.

Every year, lakhs of people apply for various kinds of competitive exams but not all are able to succeed in them. It's not that the people who don't succeed are not working hard but still there is something that they are missing. Whether you are applying for UPSC, IIT-JEE, SSC-CGL, IIT-JAM, GATE or any other competitive exam, there are some common mistakes you must avoid. Given below are some simple but effective preparation tips which will help you in avoiding these mistakes. Go through them and prepare in a more efficient manner.

Have a plan

There are many people who work hard but with no plan whatsoever. Working hard is important but it should be in a right direction. If a person digs up a large hole and then again fills it up with mud, it's hard work as well but what is the outcome? Obviously zero. If you want to succeed in any competitive exam, you must have a plan. Many people make this mistake to read each and everything without thinking if it's important or not. Firstly, go through the syllabus, and previous years' question papers. Mark the important topics and study them first. Observe the frequently asked questions and practice them more than the less important topics. There is nothing more disappointing than working hard for a goal and failing to achieve it. So, do work hard but with a plan and in the right direction.

Regular study

If you want to succeed in a competitive exam, you must be regular in your preparation. It does not mean you have to study for 8-9 hours daily. Study less but be regular. Everyone is aware of the tale about the race between rabbit and tortoise. Start a bit slow; study daily for about 2-3 hours and slowly when you are in a habit, the time period will automatically increase. Towards the end, when the exam is near, prepare yourself mentally and give it your all; forget time and study as long as you can.

Revise regularly

It is not possible for anyone to retain a topic after reading it just once; no one is such a genius. So you must revise on a regular basis. Assign a day of each week for revision only or revise daily for a small period of time, whatever suits you the best. It's not very time consuming; you can revise anywhere. Say, you have to commute to some place by a bus; select a topic, write down the key points in a paper. On your way, look at a point and think of all the details of that point in your head. Cover all the points and when you return back look at the notes and see how much you remember. This is just one way, you can devise your own ways to revise.

Make notes

It does not matter where you are studying from whether it is books or from a coaching institute or anywhere else, you must make notes. You can't remember everything; you will forget and would have to study the same thing twice. In such case, again referring to a book is very time consuming. If you prepare good notes, it will be very helpful in revising topics. Other benefit of making notes is that when you write something, you remember it better. One should make notes is his/her own words without caring about the grammar and language used. There are many people who are very conscious about what they are writing. They feel if they write something wrong, other people will make fun of them. When a teacher is teaching some concept, they get diverted and focus on writing proper English rather than the actual concept. Don't make this mistake. Let go of the thought that what the other person will think on reading the notes. Write in a way that you are more comfortable in and is understandable to you.

Join a coaching institute

In this competitive world,everyone wants to succeed and in competitive exams, you are competing with some very highly motivated people. So do not refrain from joining a coaching institute. Many people argue that self study is better but let's be practical here. Of course, you can study anything on your own but the time you will take to understand a topic, in the same time period the person attending coaching will cover say three such topics. You will automatically lack behind; you will work harder and even then will learn less. Also, because of coaching classes, there is a regularity in your studies; moreover, you get to meet like minded people and can learn a lot from them. So unless you are having a severe economic crisis, you must join a coaching institute to help you in your preparation.

Take help from others

There are only two kinds of people who don't ask for help from others. First are the kind who are so busy in contemplating the negative aspects of their life that they have become completely hopeless. They keep crying over their misfortune and other negative stuff. Even when someone tries to help them, they come up with things like "you won't understand", " I can't do anything in my life", " There's nothing good in my life" and other kind of negative stuff. It's like they don't want to be helped and love living in self pity. They never account to much in their life. Then there are the second kind who are so arrogant and overconfident that taking help from others feel like a insult to them. These people even after being competent are not able to do good in an exam. Even when they don't understand a topic, they don't ask others for help and keep wasting their time on it. Sometimes, they are not able to understand few topics even till the exam day. So, don't make this mistake. Don't feel shy asking for help. There's nothing bad in asking for help from others.

Help others

If someone asks for help, never refuse it. When you teach others what you already know, it will have no harm to you but will help in increasing the other person's knowledge. It's human behavior that if you help other people, they will surely remember it and when you ask for their help, they will do it gladly. It is also true that teaching others is the best way to learn something more efficiently. It improves your command over the topic and boosts up your confidence. So by helping others, you will increase your knowledge as well. Someone has rightly said, " Help others to achieve their dream and you will surely achieve yours"

Be aware of your mood swings

When you are preparing for any exam, your mood changes in no time. One day you are feeling really confident that you will succeed but the very next day you may feel completely hopeless. It is normal to have these mood swings but one should be careful while handling it. Whenever you feel a bit under confident, you must tell yourself that it is just a bad phase and it will pass. You should not get overwhelmed by these emotions; in such moments calm yourself down and focus on the positives. During this phase, don't start a new topic but revise the one you know very well. On doing it, you will feel more confident and then can learn the new topics.

Mock tests

There are a number of websites online which provide mock tests that can help you prepare. Many people across the country give these tests. After completion, you get to know your rank and the number of candidates. This can be very beneficial as it helps to track down your progress. One should give as many mock tests as possible. These tests provide real test atmosphere with the clock ticking on one end of the monitor. So, when one faces the real exam, he/she is not nervous.

Stay calm while giving exam

This is one of the most important point. Though it is not a preparation tip, it will help while giving the exam. It will often happen that in the final exam, you will not be able to answer a question from a topic that you thoroughly studied and understood. This generally makes a person lose his/her confidence. A common mistake people often make is that they cling on to that question and thus wasting their time. Don't make this mistake. Take deep breath, relax yourself and move on to the next question. This is also a reason why mock tests are so important; by giving regular mock tests one can learn to stay calm during pressure situations.

At last but not the least, believe in yourself. Throughout your preparation, many things will happen that will lower your confidence. Don't lose your focus because of these minor setbacks and have faith in your abilities. To quote Confucius, "The Man who says he can, and the man who says he can not.. are both correct."

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Author: Neelam28 Jul 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

I find this article really helpful and it provides very good guidance to prepare for an exam. This article deals with all the aspects a candidate face while preparing for exams; it even talks about those things like - mood swings, joining coaching and time management which are not often discussed by candidates but are very important in determining there choices.

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao10 Aug 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

A nice article. The author is very successful in bringing out the various methods and procedurs required for preparing for the competitive examination. Beyond the points mentioned it is very difficult to find out additionl points. A nice work
The person who is preparing for competitive exams should stay focussed. He should not get diverted. Another point to be mentioned is the subject and fundamentals should be thoroughly understood.Ten only the candidate can understand the questions better.
While answering the questions in the exam you should not stck up at a question. If the answer is not known leave it there and go for the next question. Otherwise time management in exam will become difficult.
A very good article.

Author: Mjaay14 Aug 2017 Member Level: Silver   Points : 2

Whatsapp, Facebook, twitter etc are some of the apps that divert our attention these days. This is not restricted to competitive exams. Believe me, if you are focused on what you have to do for just 6 months, you will definitely achieve it. You just have to make every suitable attempt to achieve your goal. Prioritize everything.

Author: Nilesh14 Aug 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 2

True. If one gets addicted to these social networking sites, it can be really harmful in one's preparation but if used wisely it can be advantageous as well. Whatsapp is very convenient way of sharing information; you can share notes and other useful information through it. So one must be wise enough to decide what is good and bad for himself/herself.

Author: Gaurav Singh19 Aug 2017 Member Level: Gold   Points : 4

As an aspirant of competitive exams I would like to add something though the author has made a great effort and have listed many things which are really vital for every competitive exams but based on my personal experience I want to add one more thing to this list.
Going through past years papers is very important for understanding the quality and level of questions being asked. Without preparing previous year papers your preparation is incomplete. In most of the civil jobs examination each paper carry at least 20 percent marks from the previous year only. It also help you in making out whether your preparation is up to the mark or you are just beating about the bush.
I would suggest everyone who is reading this article please go through the previous year papers of the exams you are preparing for. It will certainly help you in number of ways.
Also getting enrolled in any coaching institutes is not necessary. At this point also I do not agree with the author. Self study is the best study. You know yourself very well, so you can apply any method of learning which works best for you. Every year thousands of students are clearing competitive exams without taking help of any coaching institutes.

Author: prachi sarode18 Dec 2017 Member Level: Bronze   Points : 1

First target your short time goal and then the longtime goal. Find a syllabus for exams, make a timetable as per syllabus, subjects and targeted work. Join the study group or circle and also competitive exam classes can help you to give a good result.

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