How to ace board exams: Tips from CBSE 2017 topper Raksha Gopal

The exam season is almost here. So, we asked last year’s CBSE topper, Raksha Gopal, to give some tips on how to prepare for the board exams. Read on and share with your child.

By Leena Ghosh  • 10 min read

How to ace board exams: Tips from CBSE 2017 topper Raksha Gopal

“The best view comes after the hardest climb”- Anonymous

Come March, children across age groups pore over their books with a fervour that parents don’t get to see for the rest of the year. With chapters to be revised, sums to be practised and formulae to be memorised, annual examinations often seem like an uphill task for children and parents alike. And, if it’s board exams, the pressure just doubles.

According to a study titled, ‘Assessment of Examination Stress and HRV in Adolescents’ by Dr Dhan Raj Bagri et al, published in the National Journal of Integrated Research in Medicine in 2016, the stress levels in adolescents increase significantly during exams. The study stated that while ‘the incidence of stress among adolescents in general is 13 per cent, significant percentage (82.2 per cent) of students developed stress before 7 days of examination.’

How to prepare for the board exams?

If your child is among the thousands of students stressed about the CBSE Board Examinations 2020, do not worry as we have some tips from the 2017 CBSE topper, Raksha Gopalan, on how to prepare for the exams and deal with the related stress.

Raksha, who topped the standard 12 CBSE board exams with a score of 99.6 per cent, is currently pursuing BA Honours in Political Science from Lady Sriram College, Delhi. Here are some super tips from the topper on how to prepare for the board exams:

What is the best study method to ace class 12 board exams?

I believe consistency is the key. I started studying regularly from the beginning of class 11. In class 12, I started practising how to present my answers. Doing well in the CBSE board exams depends a lot on how you present your answers. Don’t lose out marks because of your presentation, so work on that.

How many hours a day did you study?

I went to school regularly. After school, I studied for three to four hours every day. From January, I put in more study hours - seven to eight hours after school with breaks in between.

Did you have a daily study timetable?

I am not really fond of timetables. If a subject is more difficult, it will take more time. However, I set goals as to how many chapters I had to finish by the end of the day.

How often did you take study breaks?

I can study at a stretch for two hours. After that, I would take a break for half-an-hour or so. So, I studied for eight hours with half-an-hour breaks every two hours.

What is your opinion on mock tests; do practice tests help? 

I did a lot of mock tests. I started giving myself tests from September. By October, most schools are done with their syllabus. After that, you just have to test yourself repeatedly. Reading everything again and again can get monotonous. And, I feel testing yourself is the best method to revise what you have learnt. Solving previous years’ question papers is also crucial.

What are the challenges you faced while preparing for the board exams?

Honestly, none of the subjects were easy. The toughest for me were History and Economics. Economics, because it was Math-based. To shift my focus from a completely subjective topic to an objective one was difficult. I would devote four hours to Economics sometimes to have a good grasp of what I was reading. With History, I would just keep writing my answers, so I’d remember them better.

Can you give class 12 students some tips on how to approach the question paper?

The most important part of an exam is the first 15 minutes you get to go through the question paper before writing the exam. According to me, those 15 minutes are the most crucial part of writing a paper because that’s the time you use to go through the questions and familiarise yourself with the question paper. Most students tend to while away that time. 

I would advise every student to read the question paper carefully, because most of the time you may miss or skip questions. Also, it’s not advisable to break the order of the question paper. I know it feels good to do the easier questions first and then move on to the difficult ones. But, you need to follow the order because it’s easier to approach the paper that way and you can get into the flow of writing easily.

How to plan a perfect study routine for examination?

You need to fix a routine by the beginning of March. It’s not advisable to study through the night, because you have to write an exam the next morning. You must develop a routine, where you wake up and sleep early, eat healthy food and take care of yourself. That helps a lot during exam time.

Can you give some tips on dealing with exam pressure?

During exams, you need to separate your study zone and leisure zone completely. My study zones didn’t have any distractions like the social media. During my leisure time, I would spend a few hours just relaxing, reading, writing or going out for a walk. You can’t eliminate stress completely because exams are stressful. However, you need to build your own coping mechanisms. And, try to minimise your stress as much as possible, because board exams are like any other exam. It’s important to remember that.

How did you de-stress after each exam?

What I would not do after each examination is discuss my paper or look at the answers. Apart from that, I would not study that day. It’s not really advisable to study after you finish an exam because writing an exam can be very exhausting. So, I used to relax or watch a movie after exams.

Did you study from the NCERT books or other guide books?

I only studied NCERT books. I can’t speak for any other stream; but, as far as Humanities is concerned, I would recommend nothing but the NCERT books. Do not go for reference and guide books as they may not be that helpful.

Silly mistakes students make

Now here are five more tips from some expert examiners published in an India Today article on 14 January 2019, on silly mistakes that students make:

  1. Not answering questions according to the marks allocated for the question (example, writing half-a-page for a one-mark question)
  2. Not writing the formulas used in numerical
  3. Not labelling diagrams properly and completely
  4. Not spending enough time reading and understanding the questions (and not adequately planning how to answer the paper or misunderstanding the questions)
  5. Writing more than is needed (and hence not leaving enough time to review and think about the right answers)

Share these great tips with your child and help him ace his exams this year.  

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Stressed about exams? Call our Counsellors on 8754414666 / 044-66236611 in Feb (Tues & Fri, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.)

About the author:

Written by Leena Ghosh on 23 Feb 2018; updated on 12 February 2020

The author is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.

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