Your study cheatsheet: Hotspots

A micro lesson in how to hack entrance exams

You have an entrance exam for graduate school coming up and you want to clear it in your first attempt. You have motivated yourself to study, but the syllabus is so vast that you don’t know where to start. You're not alone, many students feel this way and we have created this resource to help give you some tips and tricks. Ultimately, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to studying, but the statement coming up next is going change your perspective towards studying.

“Stop studying hard, study smart!”.

Steps to prepare for an entrance exam:

1) Know your exam

2) Hotspots

3) Visual memory better than verbal memory

4) Tables and mind maps

5) Read between the lines

6) Revise the revised

7) Know your weaknesses

8) Practice, practice, practice

One of the most important strategies for smart studying is HOTSPOTS which is the focus of this post.


What are hotspots:

Hotspots are areas in a subject from which the questions are repeated in the exam every time. Hotspots are versatile, it can be a question, a theory or even an entire unit. Hotspots are examiners favourites.

How to identify a hotspot:

To identify a hotspot, you will need the previous year’s question paper (all the papers up to 4-5 years). Once in hand, your first step will be topic wise segregation of the questions from all the papers. Once arranged, you will get an idea of which topics have been repeating for the past 4-5 years. After figuring out the topics, read the questions and try to understand which part of the topic is covering most of the questions.

For example: when it comes to molecular biology (subject), the examiners favourite topic is operon models (topic). And in operons, Lactose and Tryptophan operon (hotspot) more specifically.

How to study hotspots:

After comparing all the previous year’s questions, make a list of all the hotspots that you have managed to identify, and list them below the name of subject and the topic. Once done, start your preparation for the exam by studying these topics first. Just by studying hotspots, you will cover the most important sections of your syllabus first which will help you get a good score. After hotspots, you can go through the remaining topics.

Concluding remarks:

Remember, there are no shortcuts to success. These strategies are to make exam preparations less difficult and efficient. Hotspot is a strategy to give your preparation a better direction by covering the most important topics first and then the remaining ones. Make sure you use such strategies wisely.

Meet the Author

Afzal Khan

• Master's Degree in Microbiology from Madurai Kamaraj University, India

• Young & passionate budding scientist


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