Advice to Students during Exams – by Shaykh Saalih al-Munajjid

Posted on December 29, 2015


* Resort to Allaah by supplicating to Him using any permissible wording, like saying: “O my Lord relax for me my chest with assurance and ease for me my task.”

* Prepare by going to bed early and going to the exam on time.

* Take all needed tools which you are permitted to take, like pens, compasses, calculators, watches and so on, because good preparation helps one during his exams.

* Remember to say the supplication of leaving the house: “Bismillaah, tawakkaltu ‘alallaah, wala hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah (In the name of Allaah, I place my trust in Allaah, and there is no might nor power except with Allaah).”

“Allaahumma inni a’oothu bika an adhilla aw udhal, aw azilla aw uzall, aw athlima aw uthlam, aw ajhala aw yujhala ‘alayya (O Allaah, I take refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or trip (unintentionally sin) or be tripped, or oppress or be oppressed, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.”

* Do not forget to seek the pleasure of your parents because their supplications for you are answered.

* Mention the name of Allaah before starting saying ‘Bismillaah’ because uttering it is legislated before one starts any permissible deed and there is much blessing in it and it is a means of seeking the assistance of Allaah and one of the causes of success.

* Fear Allaah with regards to your classmates and do not make them scared and worried before the exam, as anxiety is a contagious disease. Rather, show optimism and use permissible cheerful phrases with them.

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was optimistic when he heard the name Suhayl (ease) and said: “Allaah will facilitate your affairs.”
And he, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would like to hear things like “O Raashid (guided), O Najeeh (successful)” whenever he went to run an errand.

* Be optimistic yourself and show it to your classmates and make them feel that you will all do well on the exam.

* Thikr (mentioning Allaah) repels anxiety and stress, and if you face a hard question, then supplicate Allaah to facilitate it for you.

* Whenever Shaykh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, came across a matter which he did not understand, he would say: “O You who taught Ibraaheem, teach me,
O You who made Sulaymaan understand, help me understand.”

* Choose a good spot to sit (if possible) and sit with your back straight as this is healthier.

* Read through the exam first: Research advises that one allocates 10% of the exam’s time to read the questions carefully and in depth, and to decide their level of importance and the time needed to answer each question.

* Plan to answer the easy questions first and the more difficult ones later, and while you read the questions, write notes and ideas you can use later when answering the questions.

* When you start the exam, answer the questions according to their importance.

* Start with the easy questions which you know the answer for, starting with the questions with the highest grades first, and delay the question which you cannot remember the answer for and which you think will take time to answer and which have lower grades (allocated to them).

* Take your time when answering, because the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Deliberation is from Allaah, and hastiness is from the devil.”
(Saheeh Al-Jaami’ 301)

* Think thoroughly about the multiple choice questions and deal with them according to the following: If you are sure of the answer, then do not be reluctant and doubtful. However, if you are not sure, then begin by ruling out the wrong answers (you are sure about) and then select the answer based on the greater likelihood of it being correct. 

* If you guess that an answer is correct, then do not change it unless you become certain that it is wrong, especially if the system deducts points for the wrong answer and not only marks it as zero. Research indicates that the correct answer is usually the first one the student chooses.

* In written exams, collect your thoughts before you begin to answer, and write outlines of your answer using a few words which highlight the idea you wish to address. After this, number your ideas according to the sequence you want to present them in.

* Write the main point of the answer on the first line, as this is usually what the marker looks for when correcting the exam, and he might not see it if you only have it within the lines you wrote and he (the marker) was correcting fast.

* Allocate 10% of the time to review your answers and go through the answer carefully, especially math equations and answers which have numbers.

* Fight the urge of submitting the exam paper quickly and do not be troubled by seeing some students leaving early, because they may be of those who gave up too soon.

* If you discover after the exam that you made a mistake in some of the answers, then take it a lesson for you to prepare better for your exams in the future and not to hasten when answering the test.

* Be content with the decree of Allaah and do not fall prey of despair and frustration and remember the words of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, when he said:
“Do not say when a problem befalls you: ‘If I would have done such and such, then the result would have been such and such,’ rather, you should say: ‘This was decreed by Allaah and Allaah does what He wills.’ Saying: ‘If’ opens the gate for Satan.” (Muslim)

* Know that cheating in exams is prohibited in any subject; the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “He who cheats is not from us.” It is also a form of transgression and a prohibited means to obtain what is not your right (high grades and degrees) and that planning to cheat with others is a form of cooperating in evil and transgression, so give up what is prohibited, and Allaah will suffice you from His favor, and refuse any prohibited means others offer to help you via and remember that when one gives something up for the sake of Allaah, Allaah will recompense him with something better.

* You must forbid evil and resist it and report it when you see it during the exams, before or after them. This is not included in prohibited gossip; rather it is an obligatory duty of forbidding evil.

* Therefore, you must advise those who prepare to cheat and tell them to fear Allaah, and convey the ruing of what they are doing and that their earnings after that (which will be based on cheating) will be ill-gotten.
Advise them to spend the time studying and solving previous exam papers instead of wasting it on something prohibited.

* Cooperating with others and explaining issues to one another before the exam is better than preparing and planning to cheat.

* Remember when you are preparing for the exam questions to prepare for the questions you will be asked in the grave and the means of rescue on the Day of Return:
“So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has won [attained his desire].” [3:185]

We ask Allaah to make us amongst the successful winners in this life and in the Hereafter.

[Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid]