Importance of practicing mock papers before an exam

Before a discussion on why mock papers are important – let’s start with a few questions of three imaginary types of students, one an ideal, the kid every parent wishes their children were. The second who is closer to what students are and the third, the epitome of cool, well…

What kind of student have you been these last few months?

Diligent – You’re up to date with school work, you have completed your homework and know your subjects well. Completely ready.

Sort-of diligent – I have to brush up a bit, made a time-table. If I had to give my paper tomorrow, I wouldn’t be ready but I will be when the exams arrive.

Ho-hum, had some fun – There’s a battery called Eveready, then there’s me, Neveready.

How’s your written practice been?

Diligent – I know everything verbally, writing is a serious waste of time

Sort-of diligent – I guess I’ll do it, if there is time

Ho-hum, had some fun – You mean, with a pen?

How would you rate your conceptual clarity?

Diligent – easily 7 to 9 and that’s only because 10 would make me appear like a show-off

Sort-of diligent – 5 to 7, it varies though, depends on how much I like my teacher or the subject

Ho-hum, had some fun – umm, let’s start at the meaning of concept, shall we?

How to get down to actually practicing?

Many students balk at the idea of practising with mock papers. Yes, it is time-consuming, involves writing and eats into time for other things.

A good way to look at practise is by observing the best. Have you watched the kabaddi matches? The kabaddi player has to have the ability to hold the breath while entering the opponent’s arena. The reflexes have to be strong to get someone out, wrestling skills must be good enough to get away from being grappled to the ground and most of all, the ability to run when the odds are against them.

They follow a rigorous training regimen, follow a strict diet and must be mentally fit to face up to loss and win. How much rigour can a person undertake? There are times when the player gets bored. In that case, the coach changes the schedule, gives some slack time. The food can get boring, the dietician plans for cheat days. Yet the training continues.

Did you know that in competitive sports, there is a person to keep the motivation up? What we need to understand is that we human being wants to rest after doing some work, some routine change, some entertainment and rest. The coach assigned to the players knows to take all of these requirements in their stride while still working to a goal. Yet, practise is paramount. That is the only way ahead.

The same applies to students, yes, there is a lot to do. The only way to weed out the possibility of poor output is by way of practising.

Lack of practise leads to the following outcomes

Even if you know a subject, when it comes to writing the answer, a few things may happen:

·        Concept confusion – getting different concepts muddled, realising that your understanding was incomplete. If you haven’t had time to revise, and realise that you are muddled during the exam, you run the risk of getting anxious about all aspects of the subject

·        Untidy handwriting, too much scratching – too many mistakes for lack of practice, mock papers force you to see how your answers look once you have finished. Are you able to read your own handwriting to check your paper?

·        Poor flow of thought – this has everything to do with remembering points as they arrive in your head and not in the sequence that you would like

·        Long answers – sometimes, we know a lot about something but haven’t worked on wording it well

·        Insufficient time – practising mock papers allows you to prepare with a clear time allotment for different sections

·        New types of questions – The exam papers will not always have questions that have been practised in class. That means, you have to formulate the answer in a short time frame and under some stress.

Even if you have been diligent and on top of the class, practising with mock papers helps you to face the exams with confidence.

Face exams with confidence

Practise writing, check your answers, refine and shorten them so that the quality of answers is superior. Also, since you already have a habit of trying to make better answers, you are better skilled in the art of clarity and brevity. Both of these are learned skills, perfected through practice.

For the not-so-diligent student, you can up your performance through practise. Think about it, you are sacrificing so much time, putting so much effort and even if it feels a little last minute, you may as well aim to do well. Otherwise you would have lost that free time for no good reason. What if you look at practise as a task to be taken alongside your studies, as a means to cement all that you have done. Maybe at the end of the week, you can put aside maybe half a day for practising with mock papers. If you don’t have much time to revise and write a mock paper. Can you read through one? Can you verbally try solving it and checking for the areas that need a brush up? Mock papers are a great way to make the experience of examinations a stress-free time.

The ho-hum student, just start your work now. A good way to use mock papers is to try the verbal route. If you are able to practice with writing in the time available that will certainly help. 

 Letspractise.com provides a test paper series to help you practice before exams. Customized to your requirements. CBSE/ICSE/State/IGCSE, Grades 1-10, all subjects. 

 

Just do whatever it takes to study. If you start feeling stressed, calm down and work.

Newspapers – Why should children read them ?

Newspapers are one of the simplest methods to convey events to the rest of the world. They have been in service for a very long time and have still not gone out of fashion.

With the advent of technology, news-reading has left the arena of paper and ink, and has reached the smartphones in our hands. But that does not mean that reading newspapers has become a dying habit. In India alone, over a hundred thousand newspaper publications are registered with the Registrar of Newspaper for India who has a collective circulation of over 250 million every day. Though Hindi is the major language used in print, Indian newspapers are printed in 22 different languages for the benefit of the people all over the country. These numbers alone justify how newspapers affect the daily life of any commoner.

Personal growth and development

           Newspaper reading is very important habit to inculcate in children. It teaches a child to read, to listen, and the importance of patience. Children develop a  habit of justifying things with fact-based, fool-proof logic, before coming to believe in anything. Newspapers teach children the art of sitting down and thinking over things before making an opinion.

A newspaper is like a reality check for  children. They understand what intrigues them the most, what fascinates them the best, what they find the most exciting in the world. Reading a newspaper can help the child to formulate opinions about what they want to be when they grow up.  

It should also be noted that newspaper articles are usually crafted by people who are exceptionally learned and can write brilliantly. As a result, a newspaper teaches children a lot about language. It not only makes them good readers and listeners, but it can also make them good writers. Reading newspaper in any language inculcates a better understanding of that language and how it is to be used.

inculcates civic sense

Children need to care about issues that concern the world, as it will eventually concern the individual at some point in time, in some way or the other. As the habit of reading newspapers develops in children, they learn ways to gain, accept and even filter knowledge from all around the world. Newspapers help a child a lot in their formative years and help them to grow into responsible, good human beings.

            A newspaper comprises of various sections and contributes different news from all around the world. International and national issues, local events, sports developments, scientific advancements of the most innovative technologies, all are covered in a newspaper. It tells children about everything that is right as well wrong about the world and develops the zeal in them to contribute to the development of society.

appeals to the creative side 

Newspapers are one place that is known to print some of the most exceptional photographs from around the world. These photographs may be clicked by some of the best photographers and children get exposed to such artistic wonders. They get to see the beautiful world from the eyes of someone else. A photograph is always more attractive than mere written words and can speak a story of its own. The colorful photographs are indeed what keep young kids attracted to newspapers in the first place.

useful information

            Newspapers also have weekly inserts catering to specific domains like employment, education, fashion, art, culture, entrepreneurship and lifestyle.  These are a veritable treasure chest of information. Often there are columns related to latest events, innovations and counselling in the above areas. There is also a section related to happenings in and around town, like exhibitions, interesting movies, plays, music, art, dance, and family events like Happy Streets.

Newspapers can be fun 

Often, children prefer to read fiction over non-fiction. This is a good habit, as it develops imagination and vocabulary. Some newspapers like NewsShuttle are children-friendly; comprising of various fun articles, detective stories, games, comic sections and puzzles.  Other examples of newpapers for younger children are  The Young chronicle, the Children’s post, Robinage. Teenagers can graduate to reading The Indian Express, The Hindu and The Times of India.

good readers also study better

Studies are also an important part of a child’s journey. Encouraging children not just to byheart concepts, but explore and learn them is important. Letspractise is an online tool which allows parents to gauge understanding level of concepts. It also helps to reinforce learning gaps with personally customized worksheets. Boards supported are CBSE/ICSE/State/IGCSE. Grades supported are 1st to 10th.

               Visit the site or download the Letspractise app, or call 9168803366. We are happy to assist you. 

Why rest is important for a student.

The power of rest

Have you ever seen the grinder-mixer at work in the kitchen? When it roars into action, the blade moves at a rotational speed of eighteen to twenty-three thousand revolutions per minute (rpm). After moving at that speed, the machine has to be switched off within a minute. Touch the machine when it is off. You will find that it is hot.

The machine has to cool properly in order to be ready for use again.

Depending on the speed and duration for which a machine is run, there is an appropriate rest period during which the motor cools. Any effort to run the machine beyond capacity would lead to the motor being automatically switched off, or to burn out. Our body and brain are similar to the machines we utilise.

A day in the life of a student

You start your day with activity, you eat your breakfast, you hurry to school, you sit in class, run out to play during recess and at the day’s end, you run home. Since it is so important to revise and practise at least one or two subjects a day, you do that. In the evening, your friends call you to play and you are off. Add to this, some online gaming and Whatsapp time.

Your body-mind machine has been busy and active for almost twelve to fourteen hours. It needs time to rest.

When we are overworked, we too should switch off. Instead, our bodies try to adapt. Not in a good way. Let’s see what happens when we don’t rest enough:

Confusion

Young people will find themselves getting angry, forgetting where they kept things, forget what they were meant to complete. Nothing will seem right. You feel like snacking on sweets although you just ate your lunch. You are thirsty but confuse it with hunger and start demanding more food. You feel confused because you aren’t really hungry. You know something doesn’t feel right, but aren’t sure what it is.

Unable to sleep though tired

You are tired but sleep won’t come. Also, you have too much work to do. Insufficient sleep causes a chemical called cortisol to increase. Cortisol increases our breathing capacity and we feel up and ready to run. But there is nothing to run from or to run for. This is because the brain misunderstood the requirement. Instead of staying quiet and letting you sleep, the brain has been told that you have to move fast. Actually, what you wanted was to sleep well and wake early to finish your backlog.

Reduced athletic performance

Let’s say you are on the sports team. Obviously, the load on you is higher. Homework and classes will continue. Maybe you have a backlog of classwork to complete. All this adds to your waking hours and before you know it, shows up in how you play.

Have you heard of Serena Williams, the tennis champ? She spends a large part of her day exercising and in practice sessions. She goes to sleep at 7 pm and makes sure to get undisturbed, high quality rest. Most athletes sleep anywhere between 7 to 8 hours with short quick naps in the course of the day.

What should you as a student do?

One weekend, do an experiment. Check how much time you need before you wake up feeling rested. Small children usually need 10 to 12 hours and as they grow, it seems to reduce. However, once teenage approaches, the sleep requirement increases. That’s because the brain and body are working overtime to help a growth surge to occur. We are not supposed to disrupt this effort.

What to do?

Check yourself

This means stopping for a moment and doing a personal check. Are your eyes tired? Does your mouth feel dry? Are you hungry? Where exactly are you uncomfortable? Take a little water, is that your need? Eat a little, does it make you feel better? Though this skill is usually taught to babies, in the rush of day to day life, it gets missed out. Why, even grownups mistake thirst for hunger. We get used to doing things at a certain time and try to run on automatic. When things get busy, like school fairs and competitions or major exams, the self-check is forgotten. And a glitch sets in.

Rest a bit

Feeling frazzled? Aren’t sure what’s wrong? Go to bed, take ten deep breaths. With each inward breath, make your stomach balloon up and with each exhalation, let it rest again. If you fall asleep while doing this, maybe you need it. Keep an alarm for 15 minutes so you are able to get up and finish what you had to.

If you do not fall asleep but are feeling better, maybe you just needed to breathe a little more. In fact, though breathing is an autonomous function, sometimes we just don’t breathe that well. Our brain doesn’t get the required amount of oxygen.

Stop ‘trying’ to rest

The exam is tomorrow and you cannot afford to lie down. You just don’t have time. It is okay, you know you can rest after a short spurt like this. Get up and do twenty jumping jacks. It will force you to get more oxygen into your system and help you to be more alert with your work.

Just as athletes have a rigorous practice followed by good rest habit, as students with high practise and rest needs, set up your own sleep system.

 

Chandrayaan 2 – what can we learn from it?

So much information, so many emotions, people sat glued to their televisions in utter suspense…..eager to learn some news. And… oh no, a collective cry of disappointment. Many people were sad.

The country had lost its reputation in the list of superpowers.

The country had failed.

Do you agree? First let’s see what the hue and cry is about.

What and why

What was the mission about? Why was it important?

The first Indian mission to the moon, Chandrayaan 1 had provided evidence of water molecules on the moon. Chandrayaan 2 was to further study the extent of water distribution on the moon. The process was expected to increase our understanding of space and allow for more collaboration with other nations. In short, this was an exploratory mission designed to learn and instigate further missions.

A space mission involves more than a decade of groundwork, understanding the conditions through which the vehicle must operate,  simulations and finally, take-off. Sounds a bit like school work, doesn’t it? As students, you have the initial groundwork of understanding the subject. Knowing and managing the distractions that will certainly come in the way. Regular practise sessions and finally, the test.

Collaboration

Did you know that the orbiter wasn’t all Indian? The lander was originally supposed to be from Russia, but they backed out and finally, India went ahead with the design of Vikram Lander. Two instruments were from NASA. 

In a project of this size and complexity, expertise and resources are sought from across the world. Do you know why? Because no one person can claim to have all the knowledge. It’s as simple as that. 

Similarly, when you have a project to complete or face a subject that just won’t go into your head, collaborate. When concepts are fuzzy and you are losing the will to practise, collaborate. Usually collaboration works by finding someone who has understood and is good at teaching.

Resources are everywhere, don’t limit yourself to your friends and the few other people you know. It is possible that the person who doesn’t talk to you, ever, can actually teach you.

Keep trying

There have been many missions to the moon. A hundred and nine.

Only sixty-one have been successful. Only forty-six of the missions were meant to land on the moon and return samples of rock to earth. Twenty-one did.

The idea of success varies. At first, the question was, can we land a man on the moon? Yes! And that was success. For one country, the purpose was just to achieve flyby. Once the first question was answered, the question changed. With that, what constituted success changed.

What is success?

Success then is about identifying the question only you want to answer, nobody else.

As you grow older, let your mind travel. And don’t forget the basics, understand well, practise to perfection.

What does this tell us? There is a group that refuses to sit back and say, ‘Oh, they did it already. There is nothing left to be done.’ Instead it asks, ‘What can I do?’

They keep asking, exploring, seeking, finding answers, dropping some, fixing on others.

The scientists at ISRO are the best in the country. Why would a group of scientists put their effort into sending an orbiter to the moon? Failure can appear at any moment. There are far easier, less risky options available.

Do they do it to please someone at home? Because they will get a bigger car or house? Or are they motivated by being a part of an exercise that goes beyond themselves?

What is success for a student?

When you, as a student get tired of the study and regular practice or limit free time to learn for an immediate test, do you think of what you are doing and why?

Why should you streamline your day so that you can enjoy both work and play?

We often ask children what they would like to do when they grow up. Become an artist? Mathematician, maybe? Haven’t really thought so far ahead? Oh, then try medicine, or engineering. And the young person doesn’t like those options either.

Sometimes, the answer doesn’t lie there.

Would you like to ask instead, what question do I want to answer? And let your mind wander. The questions may arise from the world around us, from within a circle of people you know. Clouds, trees, birds, computer games, machines at home, anywhere. You might land up with many questions from different sources and decide, oh, that one is what really interests me.

So…..was Chandrayaan 2 a failure? What did we learn from it?

Let’s talk about what’s not working. The lander reached the ground at a higher than desirable speed. There may be some damage. It was tasked with directing and relaying the findings of the Pragyan rover, and it may not be able to play its part. The area it occupies offers harsh temperatures and a rocky terrain.

Let’s see what’s working. The orbiter is relaying high resolution images back to earth. Can it answer the question about water? Maybe it can. Maybe the evidence will be inconclusive.

Time will tell

So how can anyone label the mission a failure or success?

We must realise that the view of the world is limited. Celebrating only success takes away from all that we can learn from the journey.

This question will come up in your mind, am I successful? Maybe you cleared a tough exam but are unsure of the future, maybe you got accepted at a prestigious institute. The answer is  – time will tell. A lot depends on your adaptability to a challenging, unknown environment.

 

– Contributed by aspiring author, Shobna S. Iyer

Distracted while studying!! What’s the stress about?

Oh my god, I have so much to do, Arun looks at the books on his table.  He’s 13, tall and sturdy and surely knows everything. Yet, there’s a younger child in his mind, easily distracted, happy to run as far from the table as possible. He decides, this is a good time to have a glass of water.

He goes to the kitchen, his mother watches as he opens the frigde door, takes out the water, decides it is too cold, adds a little warm water until the glass in his hand holds absolutely the right temperature. He looks out of the window and starts a minor dissertation on a lizard that is sunning itself.

And mothers, well, they see through these things, when it is time to study, the legs want to run, the hands want to paint, the mouth wants to eat or drink or just talk and the mind, it wants to wander.

What’s the stress about?

Arun is stressed and distracted. The Physics test is two days away, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to care.

It doesn’t really matter how old Arun is. If his reaction to the table and books is one of wanting to run away, it’s going to be the same whether he is five or twenty. His connection with work is affected. Unnecessary emotions come into the fray and pull him away.

Look at stress as you would look at boiling water. If you put a lid on boiling water, the water continues to boil. In fact, the pressure of the steam is enough to move the lid. The only way to remove the stress is to switch off the source of heat.

What should Arun’s mother do? Send her distracted kid back to work, maybe? Get fed up and shout, possibly? Unfortunately, that isn’t effective. She smiles to herself as she thinks back to this article she read recently and decides to try out a new method.

HUMOUR

Arun’s mother watches as he takes the water and asks, ‘How would you eat the world’s largest dinosaur?’ He blinks. ‘I don’t know.’

She smiles, ‘Bit by bit.’

Arun laughs out loud.

Humour works well as a means to relieve runaway instincts. It also momentarily frees the mind of the immediate.

PHYSICAL CONTACT

She laughs while extending her hand to stroke Arun’s head. The reassurance works to relieve Arun of his mental state, and he is amenable to a conversation. ‘Mummy, there’s just too much to do! I can’t do all of it. Yes, I know you said bit by bit but it doesn’t work like that. There’s really so much…’

That’s true, it doesn’t matter what grade Arun is at, the principles of study are much the same. First, is the introduction to the subject, a preliminary reading. Then there’s the actual task of studying, understanding concepts, using visual or aural tools, making connections and revising.

Practise takes time, of course there’s work… and feels like a lot.

IT’S JUST WORK

You can get stressed by things beyond your control, for instance if the road caves in underfoot, or a tsunami arises within inches of us or maybe a 10-foot bear turned up behind you, that would be something to get stressed about. But the work of studying, that isn’t something you should get stressed about any more than you should about, say, breathing or playing. Everything we do in our waking moments is work. Whether we are adding information to ourselves or breathing, it is all real work.

Oh, okay, Arun sits listlessly. His face and body reflecting an almost compete rejection of his mother’s words. 

LET’S PLAN THIS TOGETHER

Well, yes, of course, planning is fun. Arun likes it the most, in fact, he wants to set up a colourful time table, with differently coloured stripes. In the past two weeks, he has made three new colourful time-tables that have since migrated to the back corner of the drawer. Nobody’s fooled, least of all his mother. Enough time-table making, she decides.

Besides, she believes in eating full dinosaurs, bit by bit.  ‘Here, let’s take this Physics chapter. I’m putting a timer for twenty minutes, let us see if you can complete reading two pages, without getting distracted’, she says.

She gets up to finish some of her own work. When she is back, Arun has completed two pages, memorised and written three definitions and has moved into ‘study mode’. Mother quietly switches off the timer.

Then, slowly, his leg twitches, he looks up. Stupid timer doesn’t work or what? It’s been half an hour! So much time! And he didnt even get distracted !

PLAN SHORT BREAKS

Arun loves to do certain things, Lego toy building, cycling, sketching, colouring and football.

Now that the overwhelming half hour is over, Arun wanders back to his mother’s room. Instead of nagging him or advising him, she has donned a new hat. The ‘What are you making for me with your lego?’ hat.

Since Ganesh Chaturthi is a few days away, Arun wants to make a mandap. He is going to be priest and idol and eater of prasad. He has so many roles to play, it promises to be a busy day. Some negotiations are in order.

His mother agrees, ‘Fine, you be the idol for ten minutes, just sit still in whatever pose you want. Then return to Physics, finish the chapter.’

Ten minutes of sitting with hands in mudra proves a little boring, but Arun wades through the effort. The return to finishing the chapter is a lot less difficult after sitting still.

Yes, little by little, by day’s end, the chapter gets done. That’s not all, an hour’s Math practise and English homework, and a game of football have been accomplished. The Lego mandap will have to wait another day.

– Contributed by aspiring author, Shobna S. Iyer