5 best resources and tips for preparing high school students for competitive exams

5 best resources and tips for preparing high school students for competitive exams

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best resources for competitive exams

Cracking competitive exams might seem formidable. Accomplishing a huge volume of study and solving complex problems in a limited amount of time can be exhausting for some students. You must have heard the phrase “study smarter, not longer.” There is a myth among parents and students that they have to study for hours to score well in competitive exams. Instead, a blend of regular studies, planned and organized routines, group studies, or discussions works smartly for competitive exams.

There are many competitive exams like the National Talent Search Examination, National Level Science Talent Search Exam, Indian National Olympiad, and the Science Olympiad Foundation that are conducted at the school level. These exams aim to improve mental and scholastic abilities and mainly focus on various subjects like science, math, social science, and the English language.

Also, some schools prepare students for future competitive exams like NEET, JEE, and UPSC. Competitive exams require a certain mindset and understanding which is different from regular school exams. Many students enroll for exams and dream of good scores, but students need to focus on strategies and reliable resources for preparation.

Here are some resources and tips for high school students to prepare for competitive exams:

1. Know the syllabus, weightage of topics, and the pattern of the exam, and follow the timetable

The very first step before starting to study for competitive exams is to review the syllabus thoroughly. Students must check the exam syllabus, which is usually easily available online. Students should make notes of the weightage of various subjects and topics so they can plan their preparation accordingly.

It is also essential to understand the patterns and structure of exams and analyze previous year’s exam papers to get an idea of the types of questions they may encounter. Planning and organizing are vital parts of competitive exam preparation. Effective time management helps students stay focused and disciplined. Students should set realistic goals and schedule study sessions during the most productive part of the day.

2. Eliminate exam-related stress and fear:

Students may experience fear, stress, and anxiety before and during exams due to procrastination, lack of preparation, and low confidence. Stress and fear can reduce concentration, thereby taking away most of the learning power.

Yoga, exercise, and meditation can help students keep their bodies and minds fit and healthy. Positive self-talk and thinking can help students eliminate nervousness and improve focus and confidence.

Also Read: 6 ways to keep students and teachers motivated and happy as they get back to schools

3. Resources:

Preparation for competitive exams requires the right guidance and resources to ensure students have all the necessary information for the examination. However, many students keep numerous books for each subject, leading to confusion. To prevent this, students should prioritize and precisely follow standard guides and textbooks recommended by subject teachers and experts. 

They can also use SSS, CBSE, and NCERT books, or download/purchase relevant preparation books directly from the exam organization’s website. Having a good stock of study material can save time shuffling between various books and make exam preparation easier.


4. Previous year’s question papers:

The best way to prepare for an exam is by reviewing past years’ question papers. Analyzing previous years’ question papers helps students assess their level, understand the pattern of questions, such as commonly asked questions and emphasized topics, and recognize how tricky questions look. Practicing previous question papers within a limited time helps students crack exams in the future.

5. Digital Media:

Students can use digital media for exam preparation. YouTube provides a cheaper option where students can find free videos that guide and provide knowledge. Websites of organizations that conduct exams sometimes offer content and previous question papers, such as http://www.sofworld.org/, www.unifiedcouncil.com, and https://www.geogeniusindia.org/syllabus. Students can also opt for MOOC tests on various websites. Some free websites like Study 24/7, Testbook, Jagaranjosh, and Career Power help students prepare for exams like NEET, JEE, and government exams.

Competitive exams tremendously contribute to students’ holistic growth by developing a positive mindset, problem-solving approach, and thinking capacity. Scoring well in competitive exams can benefit students by earning merits, scholarships, and awards. Participation in competitive exams increases the chance of obtaining these benefits. In India, it is necessary that the maximum number of students from rural areas participate in competitive exams and receive guidance from their schools. Providing maximum free resources and guidance can help students participate in exams and score well.


1. How do toppers study for competitive exams?

Toppers in competitive exams employ a focused and disciplined approach to their studies. 

  • Toppers start their preparation with a clear plan.
  • They spend time understanding the format, the types of questions commonly asked, and the scoring system of the exam.
  • They choose their study materials wisely.
  • Regular revisions and systematic practice 
  • Mock tests are important, allowing them to assess their knowledge and fine-tune their strategies. 
  • They manage their time efficiently and stay motivated throughout their preparation.
  • They limit distractions like social media and maintain a disciplined study schedule.

2. What is the best way for a student to prepare for competitive exams?

Here are some effective tips to help you prepare for competitive exams:

    • Understand the Syllabus: Start by thoroughly understanding the syllabus. Knowing what topics are covered will guide your study plan.
    • Study Material Selection: Instead of using too many books, focus on standard textbooks and reliable resources. Fewer books with multiple revisions are more effective than a large number of books.
  • Create a Study Strategy:
      • Macro Planning: If you have more than six months to prepare, allocate time for new learning and revisions.
      • Micro Goals: Break down your daily targets into smaller tasks. Consistent progress is essential.
      • Time Management: Stick to a well-structured timetable to cover all subjects effectively.
  • Practice Regularly:
      • Mock Papers: Use mock papers and previous year’s question papers. Regular practice helps you understand the exam pattern and improves your speed.
      • Online Mock Tests: In the last two months, focus on rigorous practice through online mock tests.
  • Healthy Lifestyle:
      • Balanced Diet: Eating well and staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining focus during long study sessions.
      • Regular Breaks: Take short breaks during study hours to recharge your mind.
      • Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps improve concentration and overall well-being.
  • Visual Aids:
      • Use flowcharts, tables, graphs, or other visual techniques to create effective study notes.
      • Visual aids help you retain information better and make revision easier2.
  • Stay Motivated:
    • Set realistic goals and remind yourself why you’re preparing for the exam.
    • Surround yourself with positive influences and stay committed to your study plan

3. How can I focus 100% on studying?

Achieving 100% focus while studying requires creating an ideal environment and adopting effective habits. Start by setting up a dedicated, clutter-free study space with minimal distractions. Establish a clear and structured study schedule that includes specific goals for each session to keep your efforts purposeful. Manage distractions actively and limit your phone usage during study hours. Regular breaks can help maintain concentration by balancing study segments with short rest periods. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular exercise can significantly enhance your mental focus and stamina. Finally, mindfulness and meditation practices can improve your ability to concentrate and reduce stress, making your study sessions more effective.

4. What are the three secret study tips?

Three secret study tips that can help you excel in your exam preparation:

  • Mind Mapping Technique:
      • Create visual mind maps to organize complex information. Start with a central topic and branch out into subtopics.
      • Use colors, symbols, and keywords to connect related concepts. Mind maps enhance memory retention and understanding.
  • Pomodoro Technique:
      • Break your study sessions into short, focused intervals (usually 25 minutes) followed by a 5-minute break.
      • After completing four cycles, take a longer break (around 15-30 minutes). This technique improves concentration and prevents burnout.
  • Teach What You Learn:
    • Teaching reinforces your understanding of a topic. Explain concepts to a friend, family member, or even an imaginary audience.
    • When you teach, you consolidate your knowledge and identify areas where you need further clarification.

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