Tunisian students use diverse strategies to prepare for bac exams
By Mona Yahia for Magharebia in Tunis – 21/05/09
It is that time of year again; the bac exams are almost here. Tunisian students and their families are going out of their way to prepare the best environment for the exams, and hope for good results.
More than 139,000 students will take the exams between June 3rd and 10th. They are spending hours every day reviewing the material, individually and in groups. To do so, many say they resort to stimulants like coffee, tea, and vitamin pills to keep them focused.
Nour Ed-Din, a student in the arts department, said it is like boot camp. He has been studying and preparing for the exams for a while. He is always in his room, with a book and a cup of tea or coffee.
Whatever it takes, he just wants to guarantee good grades.
"I had to buy a large amount of coffee and tea so my son and his friends could concentrate," said Baia Nabli.
Some students push it a little bit further and take vitamin pills, even steroids. Drugstores have noticed the increasing demand.
"During this time of year, sales of non-prescription stimulants go up," said a worker at a drugstore, "Students eagerly use them in order to enhance their energy and enable them to overcome fatigue."
Saiem, a doctor of internal medicine, said that steroids do not have a significant impact on one's energy, concentration, or ability to study. If the students want to energise their bodies, "Vitamins and magnesium... can stimulate memory," he said.
"However, a balanced diet and a bowl of fruit at night remain the most important thing. I think that a balanced, integrated diet can help boost a student's performance much more than steroids," he added.
Aside from that, students often adopt diverse strategies of revising their lessons. Some prefer to study alone, some are more comfortable in groups, others do both. Cafes and parks are also frequented by students who prefer the outdoors.
Some appeal to religious rituals to help at this time of the year. They go to mosques and maqams of renowned sheiks, not to review, but to light candles or make donations to seek the sheikh's blessing.
Mohamed Ali, Ziad, and Noha get together to study. They are all students in the department of media sciences and prefer to study together.
"In groups, we encourage one another and can exchange information. Of course, some subjects can only be reviewed individually. However, group studying helps dodge boredom," Ali said.
Friends Khaoula and Lobna come early every day and stay until midday. They prefer to sit in a quiet corner in a café located in one of the malls to revise history and geography classes over lemonade.
"History and geography require a lot of memorisation," Khaoula said. "My friend and I prefer this place to our homes, since we are more comfortable here and can memorise far more. At home, we feel cramped. Plus, house chores can eat up our time."
Nour al Huda prefers to study alone. She is afraid that studying with friends can take the concentration off the material.
"Reviewing one's lessons in a group can turn into entertainment and fun. Math students need much concentration and seriousness," she said.
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