How not to be afraid of math, physics, chemistry

At a counselling session for students and parents held recently at Mount Abu Public School, Rohini, several tips were shared by subject experts from Studymate Learning Centre, that coaches students from classes nine to 12. Students had a lot of questions for the experts, ranging from key concepts and time management to pointers on maximising their exam scores and gaining more confidence. Here are some of the subject-wise tips offered by experts. ‘Presentation is highly important’ Biology Savita Sharma, subject expert in biology, believes that it is a critical theory subject, and most students are scared to approach the subject. Now that exams have already begun, students are worried about how they can study 22 chapters in one day. Her advice is simple and practical: do not study anything new on the day before the exam. She adds, “One must utilise the day just before the examination to revise concepts and chapters, and focus on topics one is already familiar with.” In biology, the unit with the most weightage, genetics, is also the one that is the hardest. Sharma says, “Genetics carries about 18 marks, and along with biotechnology, is the trickiest subject in the textbook. The last chapter on ecology may be easy, but students do not know how to approach questions from this unit. Always remember to keep your answers brief and specific. Do not waste your time writing lengthy answers.” As far as memorising certain keywords in taxonomy goes, Sharma says that creating your own acronyms is the best way to remember them. Presentation is another important aspect that needs attention. “Highlight value points in your answer. Each such point can fetch you half a mark,” says Sharma. ‘Do not waste time on numericals’ Physics Numerical problems in physics seem to be giving Class 12 students sleepless nights, according to Brajesh Trivedi, subject expert in physics. However, students need not worry because numericals do not account for a significant chunk of the paper. “Only 10% to 15% of marks are allotted to numerical problems. Some of these are based on direct application of formulae and are also, at times, picked straight from the NCERT book. So do not give unnecessary weightage to numerical problems,” he says. Trivedi insists that students should focus more on the theoretical aspects, derivations and concepts as that will improve their chances of scoring high marks. “Some of the main chapters that need to be focused on include atom and nuclei, dual nature, semiconductor devices, communication, etc. These are some of the easier chapters and can be tackled with less effort. Nevertheless, other chapters should also not be neglected,” he adds. Another important aspect to good preparation is to take timed mock tests. “Take the entire test in one go. Revise your key formulae, derivations and definitions before you go in to write the exam,” says Trivedi. Focus on one-mark questions Chemistry Alok Bariyat, subject expert in chemistry, answers a few commonly-asked questions in Class 12. Here are a few: How can I remember reactions in chemistry? There are certain reactions which involve proper concepts. These do not demand cramming. Then there is another segment of reactions which demands plenty of cramming. For these reactions, the key is to strategise. Look for FAQs with the help of questions from the previous. How do I handle numerical questions? You have to do a lot of homework on this. You could start with answering all the numerical questions in the NCERT book. Make a small handbook of important formulae in physical chemistry and revise them around 20 to 30 times. Taking a quick look at your formula gallery just before the exam will definitely help. Time management is crucial Math Mathematics remains the most dreaded subject among Class 12 students. However, experts like Raman Gurucharan and Shashank Mirashi, HODs, mathematics at Study Mate feel that cracking the exam is not so difficult if one has a planned approach. They believe that time management is crucial as far as this subject goes, and the best way to revise is to work out as many problems as possible over a period of time. “The first 30 minutes is important to ensure that at least 15 marks worth of questions are answered correctly. Stick to a timeframe of 1.5 minutes per one mark,” they say, “Attempt questions you are confident of, right in the beginning and use diagrams.” Set apart time for difficult problems towards the end. ‘Answer the easiest section first’ Economics Manju Arora, HOD, economics at Studymate says, “Most students have a problem with the numerical section. They feel that economics is full of data and it is a difficult subject. Many students haven’t understood key concepts, which is why they are facing difficulties in handling numerical data. Solving as many papers as possible will help,” she says. Always start answering the paper from the section you are most comfortable with. If numericals is not your forte, start with the theoretical part, she says. “Start with the easiest problem and work your way up. The sequence of attempting questions is crucial,” she says. Published in Hindustan Times, New Delhi, December 10, 2014.