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Secrets of straight 'A's

With many O' and A' level exams coming up, worry, tension and parents' expectations (along with threats, of course!) makes even the most wicked pranksters go running to their books in the hope to cram enough information into their brains to enable them to score good marks. Unfortunately for them, they have no idea that by merely trying their best to memorise, they're doing more harm than good to themselves. The following are just a few methods, which are guaranteed to ensure success in exams.

Firstly, go through the syllabus. Make sure you know exactly what you require to study. Most of the times students go through books trying to learn absolutely everything (80 per cent of which is practically not included in the syllabus!). Take your time and make notes. Remember that one time of writing is equal to ten times of reading the same material. Study the topic to be learnt slowly; make sure you understand the logic or important concepts. Highlight or book mark important sections, so that you can easily find then when the need arises.

Secondly, pay attention in class, because if you don't, you are guaranteed to suffer. No amount of reading or re-reading at home can compare to the efficiency of a professional teacher. Each day, take some time (don't worry, even ten minutes will do) to go through whatever has been taught in class that day. Class participation is also helpful at times; it generally gives teachers a good impression of you, and they respond by teaching with enthusiasm. Or else, just sit back and take in the class proceeding. The 'brains' of the class often come up with good question. Notice how the teacher tackles those, and the kind of answers that you would have to give if these questions came up.

Thirdly, take part in group discussions. Stay with people who have an enthusiastic approach to learning. Their interest and brilliance will rub off you too. Don't hold your knowledge to yourself … share it. If someone comes to you and asks for some explaining, don't make some excuse and run off. Sometimes acting like a teacher, and explaining actually helps. It makes the concepts clear in your mind, and makes you realize which areas you are weak in. I still pretend I have an imaginary friend, who visits me every night with a list of problems to explain.

Study for short periods of time i.e. study for half an hour, and then take a ten-minute break before proceeding to the next study session. Just try to keep within the set limit of ten minutes (I know how appealing the TV and music seems when you still have to finish 80 per cent of the syllabus). You don't necessarily have to follow this pattern. Different people have different study styles…studying in the way that suits you the most will be the most beneficial. If you feel studying for a long time at a stretch helps, then do so. I work that way too. It helps me to focus. I remember how a senior student once locked himself in his room, for seventeen (!) hours at a stretch, just so that he could concentrate in peace. Goodness!

Next, remember to never let anything interfere with you studies, especially personal problems. If there's anything that's troubling you during your study hours, work it out. Fights with friends, boyfriends or girlfriends may seem like the centre of your universe now, but trust me; this very problem will seem insignificant in the years to come. Unfortunately, your exam results will always carry some weight, no matter how time flies. Instead, try to work productively.

Don't be disappointed if you do badly in one test, there are many others that will matter. Try to 'shoot for the moon', so that even if your fail, you will be 'among the stars'. Be confident, but not overconfident. Lastly, remember to have a good exam, because after all this hard work, you certainly deserve it.

Don't panic the minute you get the question paper. Proceed through the paper systematically, and with confidence. When you get to a question you can't answer immediately, don't waste you time…skip it. Answer everything you can and then come back to the hard questions.

One thing before I sign off … please do not attempt to cheat. Even the brilliant students do make mistakes sometimes (after all, to err is human) and copying their wrong answers will only lead to added loss of marks. Besides, the risks involved don't even make it worthwhile.

By Jennifer Ashraf

Grueling GRE

The higher the score, the more is the probability to impress the school and reap an admission/assistantship. Since there is no passing or failing score in GRE (Graduate Record Examination), one has to persistently strive to maximize one's score.

Remember, the first impression on computer adaptive test (CAT) of GRE is crucial. If one is accurate on first few questions, CAT will drag to a higher level of difficulty. Otherwise, CAT will slither to a lower level of difficulty. Even during the exam, one can sense the acclivity or declivity. So solving harder questions continually will definitely increase the score.

But the real opponent is time, which has to be bridled. You may solve all 28 quantitative problems correctly in 60 or 75 minutes, but you are allowed only 45 minutes. Moreover, you cannot move to and fro in any section to solve the easier ones first and harder ones last.

The question comes on the computer-monitor must be answered, whether one guess it or click it correctly. If your answer or guess is correct, CAT will move you to the higher echelon. It should be very clear for a test taker that the test makers are probably very efficient mind-reader. Very rarely guessing works.

To thwart the time pressure, one has to shape up one's power and ability according to GRE fashion. Tricks and techniques to solve the problems skillfully and quickly must be well rehearsed and absorbed before sitting for the actual test. In my opinion, quantitative section may seem seemingly easy to the students with science background, but it is full of traps.

Test makers know very well where and how a test taker may fall into wrong answer choices. And answer choices obviously contain such traps. If one is not cautious, s/he will click a wrong answer with certainty that s/he is correct, since his/her calculated answer is also on the choice list.

Verbal section is challenging. One may know the meaning of the stem word, still s/he might find it difficult to sort the correct antonym. Though the 'vocabulary level' is a relative term and varies from person to person, in my view, level of vocabulary required is very high. Even just knowing or memorizing the words, like, 'prevaricate', 'ineluctable', 'purchase' with its secondary meaning of firm grip/clutch, 'unexceptionable', etc. may not enough, good understanding of their tone and style is also necessary.

What are the solutions? Prepare and shape oneself according to what actually GRE-CAT demands. Materials from ETS are probably the best to hone one's mindset. One must practice discreetly. To judge where I intend to reach and where I am now is a key factor to improve the score. Peruse the tricks and techniques several times from any book available in the market.

Barron's GRE has a resourceful list of words. Taking simulated tests from time to time and analyzing the results thoroughly and minutely with exact reasons will mold up one in GRE-CAT pattern. You can have free online practice on several sections of GRE (antonyms, sentence completions, analogies, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, etc.) at www.number2.com. You have to enroll there. Visit the site www.gre.org/practice_test/index.html.

There are interactive sample questions, try and test it. Download, if possible, the POWERPREP 3.1 from www.gre.org. You may also get it free, if you register for the test. Take both the practice tests of POWERPREP with some considerable gap and preparation. Try to eliminate the repeated errors. Your score will definitely improve.


The five freedoms and our world

According to President Roosevelt the five prime freedoms that every human being deserve in a civilized world are: Freedom from Want, Freedom from Oppression, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Selfishness.

When we take a short look at the present scenario of our civilized world, we get surprised to see that the freedom of some nations and races is being arrogantly trampled by the mighty powers, while some other nations are enjoying all kinds of earthly facilities quite abundantly. This picture of inequality is quite evident in some of the global diplomatic issues that we are facing today. The post-World War leaders had promised to build up a new world, which would be free from all kinds of discriminations.

The foundation of UN was signified to ensure that every nation would enjoy its own freedom and social security within its legitimate realm. It's hard to figure out what has gone wrong even after passing all these years since the formation of UN that streets of Iraq still get stunned by vociferous sounds of non-stop mortars and shells. Alternatively, bombers blow up a marriage ceremony in Afghanistan without mercy and the fanatical assassins kill religious leaders.

Then subsequently and unanimously we can conclude that, the inequity and the feelings of aggression which undoubtedly existed in pre-World-War world hasn't stopped following us yet in spite of our fake promising tendency of solidarity under the whitish flag of UN, an epitome of world peace. If the United Nations fails to restrain the supremacy-yearning games that the power hungry world leaders are playing then why should we believe its assurances? We once believed it would enable us to achieve our freedoms and prosperity in this hazardous world where a peaceful state of equilibrium seems to have been lost forever.

It's a world where waging a heartless war is as simple as pressing a switch to certain people, while the others just live to die prematurely without any particular reason. We fail to be amused when George W. Bush, confronted by the attacking questions of the journalist, pretends to search for the weapons of mass destruction under his desk to make a cheap joke out of it. We do not forget to weep, however, for the innocent victims who died in the attack of September 11. We all are against terrorists and terrorism but the solution that Mr. Bush has invented to fight terrorism, is certainly not a perfect one. The terrified innocents of Afghanistan and Iraq had nothing to do with any form of terrorism.

Martin Luther King says: 'I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: we all hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' We all should remember that to make my own country safe and secure I just cannot destroy safety and security of some other nation. They are human beings as well. Each of us has equal right in this world to be safe and liberal. Before the Iraq war President Bush had claimed that the war would bring unfettered democracy to Iraq. What kind of democracy do we see there now? The Shia militias are still fighting and dieing relentlessly, so are the US and British troops. Civilian casualties are going high every day, if it's democracy then surely a false one. I undeniably admit that Saddam Hossain was a morbid dictator and a filthy mass murderer; lots of Iraqis have become victims of his totalitarian psychology throughout an era. But it's also undeniable that the Iraqi people are now being the victims of George W. Bush's baseless fantasy.

From medieval ages to the modern time the world has been shattered again and again by the wars and conflicts between diverse principles, The Greeks versus Romans, The Christians versus Moslems (Crusades), Nazism versus Humanism, Communism versus Capitalism, Bush versus Laden.... etcetera. And who got caught and brutalized between these reckless conflicts? No doubt the million of innocent men of the world who hadn't even understood these complicated conflicts of principles.

Unfortunately we haven't woken yet. Still an invisible soporific of drowsy oblivion is influencing our mind and restricting us within a kind of complete melancholia. Still today American soldiers and Iraqi civilians are dieing in Iraq, bombardments and arsenals are paralyzing Afghan children, and people are dying in Israel and Palestine. Suicide bombers are being mass-produced and men like Bush and Laden are continuing their ethical conflict irresistibly. French writer Jean-Paul Sartre says: 'When the rich wage the war it's the poor who die.'

War or destruction is certainly not the exact way to bring forth democracy throughout the world. To maintain security and freedom of our own nation we should ensure first the security and freedom of the others. That's how we can achieve the ultimate world peace. I wouldn't have been much worried by the situation that we are facing if I were living in the dark Middle Ages when the buds of human sincerity were yet to be bloomed. But if we still commit blunders after walking down all those roads of experiences then it's certainly a matter of great regret.

Eventually, I'd like to say that if the lessons that we have got from the dark World Wars, from the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and other destructive hostilities throughout history are not enough to make us wiser, then it's the time to bring down the uprised flag under whose shadow we claim to be the sole civilized species of this planet. We should all wake up together or the answer for the question: 'Where have all the soldiers gone?' will always be: 'Gone to graveyards everyone. 'We don't want the flowers to be gone. Let's make a colorful world together, full of convivial affinities and friendly collaborations.

By Kh. Asef Safa Kabir








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