How To Avoid Burning Midnight Oil During Exam
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How to avoid Burning Midnight Oil during Exam

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Burning midnight oil before the exam is a common practice among students. The purpose is to score high in the test. A recent research conducted by the School of Life Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University under the leadership of Dr Sushil Kumar Jha found it contrary to the purpose for which it is intended. Instead of helping to get a better grade it downgrades the overall performance. Because the brain requires rest to assimilate the information learnt. A refreshed brain can perform better. So, during the exam the brain should be fully in relaxed mode – free from tension, anxiety and fear.

My personal experience vindicates this. While I was in seventh grade in a rural school I read an article in Bengali daily advising students to suspend study at least one week before the date of exam. It keeps the mind fresh and whatever learnt earlier gets consolidated in the mind helping to perform better in the exam. It didn’t claim to be result of any big-ticket research. The idea appealed to me. And I adopted the practice wholesale since then. It became a habit with me – I never studied during the exam period. I would be busy in some other enjoyable distractions – anything that delight my mind at the moment, forgetful of the examination. It never depreciated my achievement – I remained a topper in the class as usual.

The case study of my son will lend further credence to my argument. I gave exhaustive coaching to my son preparing for admission to RIMC, Dehradun. It is the toughest test for small kids in India. Exactly a week before the exam date I tossed away all the books and told him to forget about the test totally. He passed the intervening period in playing and appeared in all tests in joyful mood. In the result, he topped the list of successful candidates from all over India in 1984 batch.

I used to preach it to everybody -- students and colleagues alike. But none was ready to buy my idea -- including my wife. They are all slaves to the deep rooted habit acquired since childhood. And they are bent upon passing it on to the children. This is the cause of genesis of exam phobia among students. Out of their ingrained bias parents cannot believe that without studying during exam one can improve performance. The filial anxiety perpetuates the pernicious practice. This, I found, to be the crucial bottleneck.

Now, in the light of JNU finding can there be any change in our outlook? How to break free from the prevailing habit? There can be two approaches to tackle the problem. First, the student himself as I did after reading about it in the paper. He should be able to put it into practice with full conviction, without nourishing any sinister misgiving in mind, provided he can remain insulated from other’s intervention. Initially it may appear scary; once faced, it will vanish subsequently. Second, the responsibility rests with the parents; they can easily initiate among tiny tots from the very beginning. It will be easy as no failure is likely to stalk any average student in lower classes. Slowly suspension of study during examination time will become a normal habit to last for the entire life. This is the period parents begin  instilling anxiety in the young hearts.

Parents have to resist the temptation of warning their children to work hard for next day’s exam by waking up in the night. This is a no risk experiment parents can do comfortably. It’ll be worth trying for.