For the university students, it is the time of the year yet again for examinations and assessments. After what had been for most of them an enjoyable winter break, with all the traveling and snow fights, most of my Malaysian peers in Sheffield are currently isolating themselves in their rooms or in the library. All being infected with the 'revision-mood' virus, which only spreads when examinations are around the corner and is virtually non-existent at any other time of the year.
The examination fever
Ideally, when it comes to the examination season, you want to put aside all other commitments and give your utmost attention to revising. Nothing should be bothering you from your revision and you want to spend as much time as possible preparing for the exams.
But be aware that things don't necessarily go as how you have planned them to be.
Sometimes you are down for a few days with a nasty cold and had to abandon revision for a while.
Or maybe someone close to you in Malaysia is poorly ill or has died, and you had to make an emergency return back home even if it is just for a few days, to provide your support for the bereaved family.
It reminded about my own circumstances, a year ago, when I was preparing for my examination as a final year medical student. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma on the 5th December 2008 and my exams were scheduled on the 15th and 16th January 2009. Within the 6 weeks gap I had between the date of my diagnosis and examination, I had to include regular visits to the hospital for PET scan, bone marrow biopsy and two chemotherapy sessions on top of my revision plan.
I thought I was running out of time...
The chemotherapy made me very lethargic and I remembered having to take at least a week off my revision time recovering from each treatment. Overall, I only had less than 3 weeks of solid revision to prepare myself for the big exams. Alhamdulillah, by the will of Allah, I successfully passed the exams, in what I probably thought was one of the most testing period in my life.
What I'd like to highlight was not my personal feat, but some important lessons I've learned from my experience.
Lesson 1 : Be consistent with your studies.
I understand that it's not easy to be hardworking 24-7, what more as a university student. But being consistent just means devoting that extra 30 minutes-1 hour per day to keep on top of what you've learnt. So that when the examination season looms near, you'll actually reap the benefit by having to spend less time revising compared to others.
Lesson 2 : Stick to revision plans, always allow time for non-revision activities!
Even though I only had roughly 6 weeks before my big exam, I promised myself that I'll not touch my medical books during the period I've allocated for recuperating from the chemotherapy. I'd certainly look at those 'rest' periods as fulfilling my body's rights. But when it is time to revise, I made sure I didn't procrastinate by spending unnecessary times browsing the internet or doing other things that can distract me from studying. So there is absolutely nothing wrong with allocating some time off studying to enjoy yourself, be it playing sports, 'shopping therapy', etc. It is all about discipline!
Lesson 3 : Make sure you put as much effort into praying to Allah as u do with revising.
At the end of the day, we should always turn to Allah for guidance and assistance. Without the will of Allah, I would have never been able to pass my exams no matter how much effort I put in. I genuinely believed that even though I felt slightly unprepared coming to the exams due to my circumstances, Allah gave me the strength to remain calm throughout so that my mind would not be affected by stress and anxiety. Having said that, the concept of tawakkal to Allah should be preceded by making as much effort as possible (read:revision), thus I don't think last minute revision with a half-hearted commitment comes under this concept!
Me revising during my first chemotherapy session. As others were resting whilst having the drugs infused in their body, I couldn't afford to waste my revision times.
All the best to my fellow friends who are battling with their respective examinations, I hope all of you shall pass with flying colours. Do not take any shortcomings as an excuse to stop you from excelling in your studies.
Really, nothing can stop you, but yourself.