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A premature but honest guide to exam prep

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ashoka chapter.

Edited by Lavanya Goswami

We all want something. Usually it is something that we can get without much effort. Some other times, we need to seriously ‘work’ for it. It is for this second class of things. that we ‘prepare’. The word originates from the Latin word praeparare which roughly means, ‘make ready before’. Simple enough, there is the act of making ready and the element of doing it before a certain time. However, what does ‘making ready’ really mean? And when is something really ready? Also, what if something is not quite ready before its time, in which case, is the process of making ready really never complete?

These and many more such ghosts keep me awake at night. I can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea of rhetoric but that is a story for another time. In most of our lives, at least initially, we face the greatest man-made obstacle known to man, called ‘examination’. An examination is something which is extremely unnecessary and equally consequential at the same time. None of life’s challenges come in the form of an examination and yet, they demand of us, the same attitude and persistence. Which is why, managing to ‘crack’ a certain exam is a signal to an employer or to society at large, of your capabilities. It is for this reason that humans subject themselves to the timely ordeal of the examination. Naturally, to ensure success above all else and to beat the competition in a classic capitalist sense, we need to make preparations. 

The goals and causes of preparation ought to be clear by now. Now, we get into the specifics of preparations and its effect on the human mind. Born of the insecurity and feeling of inadequacy that stems from the mismatch between one’s aspirations and abilities, preparation has a tendency to get under one’s skin. I’ll explain. Have you ever prepared to brush your teeth? Or stand up ? Or remember your name? I hope not, because these things have been done by you for such a long time that they come naturally to you, there is no effort. Only, when you do something where there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, does one need preparation. So, initially, preparation demands patience, acceptance and above all a certain determination. It is common to feel stuck, no one likes not making progress, especially when there’s potential for improvement. Self-doubt and a subtle sense of resignation often take root in our head. These emotions separate the wheat from the chaff, the butter from the milk and the best, from the rest. 

You may wonder why I chose to write this article so early in the semester. It is a valid question, whose answer is evident in the first paragraph itself. ‘Before time’: preparation is always before time, it is not a day before the deadline and certainly not a day after it. Excellence is a habit; I’ll stop this right here, and get down to brass tacks at this stage. Generally, these articles tend to become cliched from here on out, we’ll avoid that. Let’s talk about Abraham Lincoln. American President,  real hustler, face is on Mount Rushmore la di da, you know the rest. He once said, “If you want me to cut a tree with an axe in 12 hours, I will sharpen the axe for 9 and cut it in 3”. Relax, this isn’t a maths problem, it is rather an expression of intent. It is an approach to living life, an approach which values thoroughness and preparation. You and I will face many exams in the future, some competitive, some not so, some easy, some not so. Promise yourself one thing. No matter what, you will treat the exams with a solemn sense of poise, and as a rule, be punctual and persistent in preparing for them.

 ‘But what if this doesn’t work and I still fail or not do any better?’, valid question, again. The answer this time, lies in the third paragraph. If you fail, two things are possible. One, you tried but it just wasn’t for you and you should therefore try someplace else. Second, you tried but you didn’t want it to begin with and so your attempt was half-hearted which in turn made you fail. If the first thing happens, it is actually a good thing because it tells you what not to do. Think of a world where Sachin Tendulkar would have learnt to be a classical singer, sure he would have sung some great ragas but what of the lost potential of becoming the greatest cricketer there ever was? If however, the second thing happens, you need to change for the better. There is nothing more distressing and destructive than lost potential and preparation is our only bulwark against it. With these last words, I leave you to prepare. 

Srijay Raj

Ashoka '23

I am interested in spirituality, music, films and politics.