By Nor Ariani Mohd Nor
“The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah SWT loves someone, He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure, but whoever is discontent receives His wrath.” – Ibn Majah
As many of us have noticed, our final exam this year is being held within the holy month of Ramadan, which I know, many of us are excited about. But how excited are we when our Ramadan schedules clash with our final exam? Are we supposed to be excited or are we actually dreading this?
Personally, as someone who is bad at time management, I have always taken Ramadan as a chance to fix my schedule – which means more Ibadah, less sleep during the day, and more productivity. In between those, there should be no gossiping, no swearing, but controlling my temper and emotion. With that said, I still have a lot to learn about fitting my revision and examination schedule, but I do believe that the key to excelling in exam during Ramadan is to always be prepared – both physically and spiritually.
Adjusting your schedule
The key to a proper sleep-to-awake schedule when revising for your exam during Ramadan is not staying awake for too long, nor sleeping for too long. During the revision week, you have ample time to study – albeit only having ten hours with food and water, and you still have to deduct some time to juggle your spiritual needs, too. So, I searched around on the internet, and found a reasonable schedule that we all can follow: –
- 4.45 – 6.30AM: Pre-dawn meal (Suhoor/Sahur)
- 6.30 – 8.30AM: Rest, do a bit of errands
- 8.30AM – 12PM: Study, with breaks in-between
- 12 – 12.30PM: Rest, Qailulah or mid-day nap*
- 2.30 – 4.30PM, 5.30-6.30PM: Study
- 7.20 – 8PM: Iftar
- 8.30 – 10.15PM: Tarawih
- 10.15PM – 11.30PM: Brief study session
- 11.30PM – 4.45AM: Sleep
With this schedule, I believe that we have ample time to rest, study, and also satisfy the needs for our soul during Ramadan. Ramadan is a blessed month with ample blessings to be given away. It would be a sheer waste if we missed out just to focus on our studies alone.
*Mid-day naps or Qailulah are short sleeping times between 15 to 30 minutes, any more than that will cause the body to become heavy and groggy, according to Myummah.co.za
It is general known that eating well is important to keep our brain and body functioning. During Ramadan, however, our brain and body are not fuelled with food and drinks during the day.
I think I can say this for everyone – when you’ve been starved for about 13 hours, our first bodily instinct is to grab something sweet and delicious. However, as we all know, despite Malaysian delicacies (or even just the food served here in IIUM!) indeed being delicious, not all of them can be healthy and energising. Eating salty food can leave you dehydrated during the day and eating sweets can make you feel lethargic and sleepy within two hours of consumption.
Super-healthy foods are very hard to find especially during Ramadan. Therefore, the safest suggestion is to stock up on fulfilling meals that are easy to reach during pre-dawn meal and iftar. According to student.com, the following foods can fill you up quickly yet release energy slowly throughout the day which is ideal during Ramadan: bananas, brown rice and porridges. If you live in a Mahallah that restricts fridge or stove, you can opt for instant oatmeal and white bread. To save money, the SHAS mosque provides iftar daily – but first come first serve!
Most importantly, don’t forget to stay hydrated – eight glasses (250 ml each) is the ideal.
Tips: One glass of water when you wake up, another before your pre-dawn meal, another after. One glass after the Maghrib call of prayer, one glass after your iftar meal, one glass before your Maghrib prayers. Lastly, one glass before Tarawih, and one glass before bed.
Acing in your exam does not and will not ever mean studying last minute so that you can cram that extra information in your head. Staying up and pulling an “all-nighter” will not only make your brain tired at the time of the exam but will also hinder your creativity process for short and long essay questions. Moreover, by sleeping too little or not sleeping at all will increase your chances of oversleeping on the day of your exam or sleeping during your exam.
Thus, always make sure that you have ample time to sleep! Five hours is the minimum to ensure that your brain stays fresh when you wake up for the exam or for more revising.
When you think that you cannot perform any complimentary Ibadah during Ramadan (such as the Tarawih prayers or wake up for Tahajjud), you can always do more by giving alms (sadaqah) and reading the Qur’an. You should also remember that education is also a part of the ibadah – as long as your intentions are towards gaining knowledge for the Almighty.
Also remember that helping your friends out also counts as sadaqah. And it helps you better with understanding the subject matter! Therefore, you should not worry about missing any supplementary ibadah during this time as there are still a lot more you can do.
Know your study techniques
Studying on an empty stomach may not work well for most people; reading through journals and paragraphs on end that comes with reading a textbook can somehow malfunction your understanding of the materials given.
Hence, student.com suggests that to get your mind to understand the subject matter, condense information into small brain-absorbable chunks! This can mean palm cards, visual and audio aids (YouTube videos) and also mind maps.
A rest is also essential during long revision periods. For every 40 minutes, take a 10-minute break to clear your head and take a breather. As Muslims, you can always perform the ablution whenever you start feeling sleepy! Insha-Allah, this will wake you up and get you focused on your materials.
Always study with good intention especially during Ramadan, where there is an abundant chances for you to pray for your success and ace in your exam.
As Muslims, remind yourself that success is not only measured by your achievements on earth, but also in the Hereafter. ***