In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
A person possessing a true and sincere desire for something is very likely, with the help of Allah, to achieve it in the end. Perseverance is the constant companion of those who are successful.
With exam time upon us, our students right now are facing times of anxiety and stress. It is necessary for parents to keep close tabs on their children at this time and help them to get through these times successfully.
I direct the following advice to our students who are facing their exams:
First of all, you have to get a grip on the anxieties associated with your studies:
1. Focus on the day at hand. Do not become excessively bogged down by your concerns. Know that Allah says: “And in the heavens is your providence and what you are promised.” [ Sûrah al-Dhâriyât : 22]
2. Consider the heavy toll that inordinate worrying has on your health, your body, and your mind.
3. Do not fret over past failures. Remember that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If some misfortune befalls you, do not say ‘ If only I had done such and such… ‘ Instead say: ‘ Allah’s decree and whatever He wills He does .’ Truly, the words ‘ if only …’ open the way for Satan’s handiwork.”
4. Reconcile yourself to Allah’s determination and decree. What Allah chooses for you is better than what you choose for yourself. Allah’s messenger (peace be upon him) said: “How remarkable is the affair of the believer. Indeed all of his affairs are for the best, and this is the case for no one except a believer. If prosperity befalls him, he is thankful and this is good for him. If misfortune befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him.”
5. Instead of enumerating all of your worries, fears, and failures, count Allah’s blessings – which are innumerable. Allah says: “If you count Allah’s blessings, you will never account for them all. Indeed Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [ Sûrah al-Nahl : 18]
He also says: “If you count Allah’s blessings, you will never account for them all. Indeed Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.” [ Sûrah Ibrâhîm : 34]
7. Do not be self-centered, thinking only of yourself. Try to do something for others. At least manage a smile and try to do something more for them.
The second task is to distinguish between constructive worry that pushes you to study harder and more effectively and destructive worry that merely robs you of your sleep, keeps you from eating and drinking, befuddles your thoughts, and prevents you from studying effectively.
You need to make sure to get enough sleep. You need to relax, even on the night before a big exam.
You must also make certain to eat properly, preferably light meals that are not to oily. Also drink juices. Do not overdo it and do not resort to excessive amounts of coffee, tea, and other drinks that are high in caffeine. As for popping stimulant pills, know that this is both Islamically unlawful and self-destructive. It can lead to addiction and dependency and it will not help you in your studies. It will only hurt you. Do not be duped by others who might try to talk you into it saying that it is only for exam time and then you can give it up.
You need to move around and get exercise. If you are just too busy, then at least walk around the room while you are studying.
Glorify your Lord. Allah says: “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” [ Sûrah al-Ra`d : 28]
Do not neglect the practical steps to success. You are supposed to take them. However, do not put your reliance upon then. Instead, put your reliance in Allah, the Lord of those practical steps and the one who brings about their effectiveness. Allah says: “And put your trust in Him Who lives and dies not; and celebrate His praises.” [ Sûrah al-Furqân : 58]
It is reported – though with a weak chain of transmission – that once a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked: “Should I tie my camel or rely upon Allah?”
So the Prophet replied: “Tie it and rely upon Allah.” In this way, he showed how we must take practical steps and rely upon Allah at the same time.
Do not forget that life is one big test. Just like it is necessary for you to pass your tests at school, you are going to have to pass that big test as well. That exam is as long as your life and the results only come out at the very end.
Parents, for their part, should pay attention to their children and to their examinations, their studies, and their homework without putting too much pressure on them and stressing them out.
We now turn our attention to how to study. This is a four-step process.
First, the lesson should be given a good, general reading. This should be done once or twice until the general meaning is clearly fixed in your mind. You need to assess what you read, determine how difficult or easy it is, and draw from it its main ideas.
The second step is to get a precise grasp of the material, understand it thoroughly, and commit to memory what needs to be memorized. Do not memorize what does not warrant memorization. Many of our youth rely too much on memorization and not enough on understanding.
The third step is to make sure you have got everything down. You should repeat to your self those things you have memorized or understood from your lessons. Highlight important points in your notes.
The final step is to then go back and review what you have studied, either on your own or with others.
Do not forget the following:
1. Underline main ideas and important principles.
2. Give yourself time to pause and to rest.
3. Find some little clues in the material that you want to commit to memory to help you to memorize it.
4. Read out loud sometimes.
5. Rewrite those things that you want to grasp more firmly.
6. Choose an appropriate time and place to study.
Now we turn our attentions to how to answer the test questions.
1. There is nothing wrong in trying to figure out what the test questions are going to be. You can put yourself in your teacher’s place and write down the questions that you think are likely. Then you can focus extra attention on answering these questions. However, do not neglect the rest of the material. Also, get sample questions from others and from the test papers of previous years in order to get an idea of the types of questions your teacher or professor is likely to ask.
2. Do not forget to eat breakfast before going to the examination, even if time is limited.
3. Pay attention to the test schedule. One of my friends was an excellent student, but he never pursued his studies. Why? Because once he made a fatal mistake regarding the test schedule. This experience left him so bitter that he could not continue in his studies. Make sure you know your test schedule well. Make sure you review on the night of the exam only the tests that you are going to sit for the next day.
4. Seek Allah’s help and remember Him. Start your test in his name.
5. Come early to the testing room and make sure that you are properly equipped with pens and whatever else you will need to take the test.
5. Read over the questions in a relaxed manner. If allowed, ask your teacher to explain any question that you do not understand.
6. Answer the easiest questions first. Do not just follow the order of questions on the test paper. Starting with the easiest questions makes the whole test go smoother.
7. Put off the things that you do not know and do not succumb to worry. With Allah’s help, the answer may come to you. Do not become anxious if you see your fellow students around you starting to write before you do.
8. Do your best to write your answers neatly, clearly, and in an orderly fashion.
9. Do not cheat. Keep in mind that deception is unlawful in Islam.
10. Divide your time sensibly between the test questions. Do not spend all of your time on one question to the expense of the others.
11. Resist the urge to hand in your test paper as soon as possible though you may just want to get out of the room as quickly as you can and consult with your friends about what the right answers were. Take all the time that you are given. Read over the questions again. You may have forgotten something. It is better to take this time now than to regret later the easy question that you missed.
12. Do not leave any question unanswered. Even if you do not know the answer, try anyway. This is not lying. You are not issuing official decrees. You are just in training.
May Allah bless you with success!