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Survival guide for the last-min Physics student

*Written by a current secondary school physics teacher from a reputable school*

Your Physics Test is coming... not in a month, not in a week... but three days’ time! How do you make the most out of the precious hours? O.K. Here is some straightforward survival tips from an ex-last minute Physics student who has become a Physics teacher.

If you have the luxury of studying over the weekend for a Monday test, your chances of survival is very high. If you are caught in the midst of a school week and your test is a few school days away, you need more determination and discipline in order to make it! I will teach you the different ways to organise your preparation time effectively in both situations.

Survival kit:
Physics Text book
Physics Ten Years Series
Dig out as many physics notes and worksheets AS YOU CAN (Do not sweat if you have trouble doing this)
Pencil case and Paper

What to do?
“I hear and I forget. I see and I understand. I do and I remember”
So, remain calm even if you have not been very attentive in class. Do not bother to stare at the complicated formulas and diagrams trying to print the images into your brain. The secret to success in learning is... DOING PHYSICS! In the remaining time you have, your goal is to DO as many questions as you can in the topics to be tested.

Begin with ten year series questions first. They are the most basic and direct questions. Here is the secret: Read through the questions in a topic first even if you don’t have the knowledge or understanding to do them. Just read through the questions first and pick out key words and terms used. You are to notice what stuff are commonly asked in the topic. Next, be determined to attempt the questions as if you are being made to sit for a test. You will probably feel anxious and will only be able to do very few questions. After you are done with this step, close your eyes and reflect what are the questions that gave you the greatest anxiety and which keywords appeared very frequently in the topic. Do this no longer than 10 minutes.
Now, you are allowed to flip open the Text and SCAN through the chapter for 15 min only. Your aim is to pick up simple information that you have forgotten so that you can complete more questions that you did not do earlier on. Do not read into chucks of details. After this, pick up the questions again and this time round, you should be able to do a few more questions.

Next, you are allowed to open up the Text and complete the most difficult questions along aside. You will find that you will be more motivated to read through sections of information in the Text in order to solve the more complicated problems. Also, you would have filtered out the sections which you have scanned through for the simpler questions earlier on.

OK. You have finished the Ten year series and feeling more confident and relieved. Great! Now, to achieve perfection, take out the notes and worksheets that your teacher has given you in class. This is the time to read through the notes slowly and carefully to consolidate and summarise the facts and concepts of the topic. When you are done, look at the worksheets and attempt the questions again.

For those who have the luxury of studying over weekend:
Set up your survival kit on Friday night and place the physics textbook under your pillow and sleep early. Wake up at 6am on Saturday morning, eat a LIGHT breakfast and finish your ten year series before noon. Take a break at around 9 am and eat some snacks to replenish glucose for your brain. After lunch, if you have not finished your ten year series, continue to work on it. You must finish before 3pm in the afternoon. Spend the rest of the time before dinner reading through notes and running through worksheet questions. After dinner, pick up the phone and call up the class geek to ask for help on questions that you really cannot do. Ask him to give you a quick tutorial on the concepts as well to clear things up even more. Thank him and buy him dinner when the test is over. Then, continue practising the questions well into midnight. Go to bed and wake up around late morning on Sunday, go to church if you are a Christian. If you are not, meditate and pray according to your religious inclinations. Spend the rest of the day to consolidate definitions and formulas, drawing mindmaps and practising questions for speed.

For those who do not have the luxury of a weekend:
You need to block out all the after school commitments and so-called “study groups” with peers. Go home as early as you can, explain to people who want your time that you are rushing home to study for a test. Take your meal the very moment you reach home and start the process as prescribed above. But you probably can only finish ten year series on the first day. Then go to bed as usual, do not burn midnight oil. On second day, work on notes and worksheets. The next day, catch the class geek and schedule some time after school to consult him. Then go home and consolidate your stuff and practise for speed and accuracy. You would be ready for test the next day!

This guide applies not only to those studying three days before a test. It also works for those who are not studying last minute. It is just a tested and proven method to prepare for a test in the shortest time possible. I wish you all the best in Physics Tests!

ExamWorld's addition: This methodology can also be applied to other hard science subjects like mathematics, chemistry, and biology as well.

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