Exams During Ramadan: A Guide

As Ramadan moves 11 days further into May and the exam season, we ask two UAE school principals their thoughts on how students can best cope with fasting and studying, and how non-Muslims can support their fellow students...
Exams During Ramadan: A Guide
By C Hoppe
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With Ramadan now falling right in the middle of the UK exam schedule, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com asked Iain Colledge principal at Raha International School in Abu Dhabi and Alan Williamson, principal at Kings Al Barsha, Dubai, how best we can support those both fasting and studying...

Studying for any exam is tough, let alone when you're fasting, can you give us your top-tips for studying during Ramadan?

Iain: Make sure they get rest and plan out their studying to spread out the work.  Trying to cram for 5 hours the day before will not be successful.

Alan: It is important that children are able to study in a comfortable learning space that is quiet and cool.

Where possible, give children the option to complete their studies in the morning or afternoon as this will differ with each person.

Consider granting exemptions from PE and other physical activities to children who are fasting as this may tire them more quickly and affect their ability to study afterwards.

It is important to consider the possible impact fasting and early/late prayers may have on a child’s ability to study, especially when arranging dates for extracurricular activities, days out, trips and celebrations.

Tell us about being organised and 'organisation' during exam preparation...

Iain: Use a calendar to plan their revision schedule, include the topics to be studied and the amount of time they will devote to that subject. 

Alan: The key to be being an effective learner is organisation. Being organised can reduce exam stress and help children make the most effective use of their time. The best way to study is to make a revision plan.  It can be easy to put things off. A plan ensures that time is  managed effectively. Moreover it ensure greater focus on the revision needed to ensure exam success.

Another approach is for children to divide the day into blocks or units of time that works for them. It can create a greater sense of pace and urgency. Blocks of time can also be assigned to different subjects to provide greater variety in the learning. Importantly, it also enables  time to be incorporate for relaxation, such as breaks to ensure emotional, mental and physical well being,  and avoid burnout.

Finally, revision is not simply about the amount of hours of study.

Quality rather than quantity is key. It is tempting for some to equate effectiveness with the amount of hours spent revising. Success is determined by how much real learning takes place. A good way to determine this is through application,  completing exam questions and past papers  in timed conditions. This will help identify any gaps in knowledge and understanding from the revision and at the same time improve exam techniques.

Can you tell us any lessons you learned from last year's experience of students fasting and sitting exams?

Iain: Most students were able to do very well and fasting did not affect their performance.

Will your school be making any concessions/additional plans for those fasting and sitting exams this year? 

Iain: In line with other schools' practice, we will have students fasting sitting exams separately from the non-fasting students so they won’t be distracted by students who may be drinking water during the exam.  

What can non-fasting students do to help those fasting and sitting exams this May/June? 

Iain: Provide them with words of encouragement and be sensitive to the fact that this may be an additionally stressful time for the students.

Alan: It is important that during fasting hours, non Muslim only eat or drink in private in a room away from those are fasting, being mindful of religious observance and customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

It is important to be mindful that those that are fasting will need quiet places to relax and study, especially in communal areas such as the library and common room areas.

Be supportive of students that are fasting by saying “Ramadan Kareem”.

 A final word from Iain…

Ramadan is not an excuse to take an extended summer vacation.  Although the school day is shortened, lessons have been planned and normal classes will continue until the end of term. 

Try and make sure that your children are getting adequate sleep.  As we know the lack of sleep is detrimental to learning and keep to the Ramadan school timings. 

Children walking into class late disrupts the other students.

Parents and teachers should adopt a more conservative dress code on campus.

Finally it¹s a great idea for parents to take the time to find out about  the etiquette of Ramadan, share their knowledge with their children and during the holy month, try to experience Iftar.


Click here for more on Ramadan at School

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