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Essential Time Management Tips for GATE/ESE Exam Preparation

Chithrakala Babu

Struggling to wind up the final essay with shaky, sweaty hands. Clock ticking like a time bomb. Blurring vision and a racing heart...

It’s a relatable exam hall situation that everyone has gone through at least once in their life. Many students find it challenging to manage time in the exam hall and also during the exam preparation before that. Joining the best coaching class, buying the top-rated study materials and having cool gadgets are merely secondary to your time management skills. Because it ensures the quality and effectiveness of your learning. Have you ever thought why do we have 2 or 3 hour-long exams for testing what you have studied over months and years? Basically, an exam test your various skills, including your time management skills. It is not how much you have learned but how well you can recollect and present what you have learned over time.

We all know that competition for jobs, higher studies and research positions is at its peak these days. It is vital to get a decent rank in the GATE, ESE, or other such competitive exams because thousands of worthy competitors are preparing along with you. While subject knowledge is the primary aspect of any exam, the strategy you adopt makes you the winner. In the context of an exam, knowing isn’t everything, but expressing what you know is. This is why managing time efficiently should become your prime focus while preparing for an exam. Moreover, it is a skill that will help you to be successful in all aspects of life. Now, the subject of our discussion is how to manage time effectively during the exam season. Let’s get started.

  1. Making a study plan

Here is the first step to managing your time efficiently during GATE or ESE preparation – create a personal and workable study plan. For this, you need to be familiar with the GATE/ESE syllabus thoroughly. To explain further, you need a “personal” study plan because it must be entirely yours. Your study plan should reflect your preferences, your interests, your convenient time and your mode of learning. If you browse, you will find countless ready-made study plans on the internet. But remember, they are not made for you. Following a random study plan may bring more harm than good. For example, some students find it comfortable studying in the night time rather than day time and need to adopt a strategy that suits their preferences.

Your study time should be workable because you might feel too overwhelmed once you decide to appear for GATE or ESE. As a result, you might make an overambitious study plan that’s humanly impossible. If you are a college-going student, you have to find time for your academic activities such as exams, assignments and projects along with your GATE/ESE preparation.

Here are some points you should remember while making a master schedule for your prep.

  • Set your study goals.
  • You should prioritise the subjects according to their importance in the exam.
  • Categorise the topics in each subject into difficult/easy and most important/less important.
  • Divide your time according to the weightage, i.e., more time for the subject papers and lesser (but reasonable) time for General Studies/Current Affairs.
  • By allotting time like this will help you to be more specific and systematic in your preparation.
  • Choose your study time when you are most energetic and active. If you are an early riser, you can devote more time for studying in the morning. If you are a night owl, divide your time accordingly.
  • Create timetables for a month, a week and a day. This helps you follow the study plan efficiently.
  • Create the study plan according to your study goals and strictly follow it

Read 9 Key Points You Should Know Before Making a Study Plan for GATE 2022 to make the most out of your preparation.

2. Practice

We can never get tired of stressing the fact that practice always pays off. Students should practice mock tests and previous year question papers to be familiar with the exam pattern. This will help you manage your time during the exam skillfully. Usually, students spend the lion’s share of their time studying different materials and hardly do enough practice. But those who do regular practice would know the difference!

Here are the reasons why you should always squeeze in a good amount of time for practice.

  • Doing mock tests is the best way to identify your weak points in your preparation strategy.
  • You will also be able to understand how you can improve your performance during the exam. For example, if you cannot divide time equally for math problems during the actual exam, it can cause serious trouble. By practising mock tests, you can find the issues like this beforehand and take the necessary steps to fix them.
  • Proper practice will enhance your ability to solve analytical reasoning questions.
  • By solving previous year questions, you can monitor the time you take for each type of questions. Monitoring time will help you to be systematic and you can see your time management skill improving with each practice test.
  • For the ESE phase II, you need to practice writing down the answer with accuracy and precision. It improves your writing skill and time management skills for the conventional paper.

3. Limit Screen Time & Avoid Distractions

We know it is the hardest part. But to secure your future, making a small sacrifice wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes, your peak time will be the time when your family watch serials or news or a reality show. It is essential to escape that temptation too. Keeping your phone away is a no-go if you have chosen an online class for your preparation. So, the solution is to use your phone/laptop minimally, and for a specific purpose – to study.

Here are some tips to avoid distractions during your preparation.

  • Dedicate a stipulated time slot for visiting your social media accounts and other apps.
  • AppDetox, KeepMeOut, Offtime are some of the leading apps/websites you can use to limit your screen time by blocking distracting apps for a designated time.
  • You should choose a study place far away from where the TV is playing.
  • Rather than keeping your phone away, train your mind to stay away from time-consuming apps such as Facebook and Instagram.
  • You can follow social media pages that post useful information related to the exam and make use of even your screen time. Two birds with one stone!

4. Breaks

To put it simply, taking breaks boosts your productivity. Your mind and body require time to relax and refresh after hours of study. The learning pattern will differ from person to person, and you need to find out how frequently you need breaks.

  • You can include small breaks after every hour or 2 hours per your convenience and without tampering with your study goals.
  • Taking rest at intervals help you stay focused and energetic throughout the day.
  • Remember to include time for self-care. You should engage in your favourite pass time activities once in a while.
  • Completely shutting out your leisure activities might result in stress and anxiety. An evening walk, meditation, doing exercises, dancing or listening to music are some of the activities you can do during the break. These activities refresh your mind and improve your holistic health.
  • Treat yourself with your favourite food occasionally or if you feel low.

5. Revision

Regular revisions ensure that all the portions are effectively covered. Periodically revising what you have learned helps to retain the key points and recollect when necessary.

  • Allocate a fixed time to revise. For example, 30 minutes - 1 hour for daily revision, 0.5 - 1 day for weekly revision and a day or two for monthly revision.
  • Make a note of your performance during the revision and the topics you need to work out again.
  • Revision gives you an opportunity for self-analysis and gives the right perspective to move forward with your goals.
  • It also helps to monitor your pace and progress of your preparation.

Time is an invaluable resource you should utilize skillfully. Be organised, focused and consistent throughout your GATE/ESE preparation to get good results. Use your time wisely and efficiently. Today is the only thing what you have and you have to make it count. Good luck!

"Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time." - Jim Rohn