The O-Levels are without doubt one of the biggest challenges that students in Singapore would face. After all, their O-Level results would determine which junior college or polytechnic they would go to, and which courses they would qualify for. Naturally, this translates into a fair bit of anxiety for both the student and their parents in the lead up to the big examinations.
With about half a year to go to the O-Levels, many students are ramping up their study and revision processes. If you haven’t already begun your O-Level preparations, don’t panic; there’s still time for you to do so!
Here’s a few bits of advice to help you get started.
#1: Set your study targets
The first thing to do is to go through your study objectives for each subject. Have you met them? Are there any subjects that you are having trouble with? And if so, why?
It’s alright to be slightly derailed, to not to meet all of your targets all of the time, or to fall behind slightly on certain topics – sometimes you may need more time than expected. However, if this begins to be a consistent pattern, this means that you need to relook your plans, and perhaps seek out extra help (from your teachers, or tuition teachers) in order to get back on track.
If you have not set your study targets yet, this is the time to do so. You may wish to set your targets in line with your school’s schedule, so that you are always on top of your studies. However, you would also need to ensure that you are able to fit in previous topics that have already been covered in school as well, for revision.
Additionally, as most schools would have finished the O-Level syllabus by June, you may wish to relook your study plan again to ensure that you have set aside sufficient time to cover all the necessary topics for all your different subjects, and to make a plan to catch up on any topics that you may be weaker in.
#2: Create 'cheat sheets' for yourself
Studies have shown that writing things down can help in information retrieval later on. By creating “cheat sheets”, you can kill two birds with one stone by also creating a guide that you can refer to at a later stage of your revision.
Take a chapter, or a topic from one of your subjects. Take some paper and pens (feel free to colour code your notes if you prefer), and write down all the important information from that chapter; formulas, key definitions, key concepts, for example. Be as concise as possible – there is no need to copy everything out!
You will find that these “cheat sheets” will help you immensely later on when you are revising for your examinations.
#3: Plan a study routine that works for you
You know what they say: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is why planning a routine that works for you is important.
Every person is unique, and may function differently. Some of you may find it easier to sleep very early after dinner, only to wake up very early before dawn, to study and to do your revision, as you find you are able to focus better then. Or some of you may find it preferable to work on revision right after school, as you may feel that you retain information better that way. This is also dependent on anything else that may have demands on your schedule – enrichment classes, or your co-curricular activities, for example.
Find and plan for a dedicated slot of time every day for you to do your homework or to do your revision, and stick to it as far as possible. Of course, do also remember to set aside time to spend with your family – this could be as simple as ensuring that you sit down with your family every day for lunch – and also leisure time. It’s not healthy to spend every waking moment studying, so be sure to take care of yourself by unwinding once in a while!
#4: Ensure that you get a good night’s sleep
Most importantly, set aside a sufficient amount of time to sleep. You should be getting around eight hours of sleep every night. It may be tempting to burn the midnight oil to study, and that may be all right on occasion, but if you consistently do not get enough sleep, your body will protest, and you may find that you find it harder to concentrate, to retain information, or to get things done.
Practise good sleep hygiene, which means keeping to good habits that ensure a stable and peaceful sleeping environment. Have a “sleep routine” – perhaps drink a glass of warm milk before bedtime, turn off your devices one hour before sleeping, ensure that your room is neither too hot nor too cold by adjusting the fan settings, or the aircon temperature, and that you have blackout curtains that keep the light out of your room when you want to sleep.
With these tips, you’re now on your way to start preparing for your O-Levels. Good luck!
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