Exams During Ramadan: How To Prepare
Muslims all over the world observe the religious celebration Ramadan with a month of fasting, but this year it will fall in June when many students are taking their exams. We asked guest writer Sarah Nurgat for her tips on how to get through it and still get top marks…
The Islamic months follow a lunar calendar, where each month begins by sighting the new crescent moon. Lunar months are shorter than solar months, so Ramadan is about 10 days earlier every year. This year, Ramadan will fall in June and, since we fast from dawn until sunset during this celebration, we’ll be going without food and water for upwards of 19 hours. We’ll have Suhur, a pre-fast meal, at around 2am and Iftar, the evening meal, at 9pm (depending on where you are in the country).
It seems difficult, but in reality we’ll be prepared because the fasts have been getting steadily longer over the last few years. We’re also pretty tough! I once asked family and friends if they had ever sat exams during Ramadan and how they managed it. My cousin Hamzah, who is a 24-year-old medical student, responded: “You just get on with it, pal!”
This Ramadan brings new challenges for students as it coincides with exam season in countries like the UK for the first time in decades. If you’re not Muslim, you might be wondering why we don’t just stop fasting during exams. The thing is, observing Ramadan is a really important part of being a Muslim, but we still have to study, work and do all the things we normally do, just with a few exceptions (like if you’re ill).
The key to getting through exams during Ramadan is to be prepared. With that in mind, here are some of my top tips to help you get organised:
1. Adjust your routine
Your revision routine is going to change once Ramadan begins, because you’ll have between 2am and 9pm to alternate between rest and revision. When my cousin Hamzah did it, he would sleep after Suhur, from 2am until midday, and then revise until 9pm. He’d have Iftar, relax until Tarawih(which are extra nightly prayers performed in Ramadan) and then revise again until Suhur. And then the whole routine would begin again!
Here’s his timetable:
1:30am to 2:00am – Suhur (pre-fast meal)
2:00am to midday – Sleep
Midday to 9:00pm – Revision (with breaks!)
9:00pm to 9:30pm – Iftar (evening meal)
9:30pm to 10:30pm – Rest
10:30pm to 11:30pm – Tarawih (extra nightly prayers performed in Ramadan)
11:30pm to 1:30am – Revision
This is one way to do it – you might prefer to structure your day differently. For instance, you could work in the morning and sleep in the afternoon. The important thing is to have a routine that factors in enough revision and rest time.
There may be other things to take into account when you’re making your own timetable. Do you have lessons during the exam period? If so, you could nap after your classes and then start your revision. Do you have other responsibilities to consider? Work around them.
Congregational Tarawih prayers in the mosque can be a drain on time and energy. One option is to pray Isha, the obligatory night-time prayer, in congregation in the mosque, then pray Tarawih at home. Another option is to organise a small congregation of your own so you can recite shorter passages of the Quran.
2. Revise differently
Revising on an empty stomach can make it harder to concentrate, so it might not be the best idea to try and memorise from a textbook, or read through dense notes. Condense essential information in a way that makes it easier to absorb, using revision cards or mind-maps. If possible, try and do the bulk of revision before fasting starts – write up your notes or start making your revision cards before you start to feel hungry.
If you find your mind wandering or you’re feeling sleepy, you could try getting some fresh air. Another way is to plan your breaks around prayer times. Muslims have five daily prayers and we always wash before prayers, and you might find that splashing your face with water will wake you up if you’re falling asleep!
3. Eat well
It goes without saying that when you’ve been hungry all day, you’ll want something tasty for dinner. In my community (I’m Indian) it’s quite common to eat lots of fried foods to break the fast and we tend to have sweet desserts afterwards. These fatty and sugary foods will leave you feeling lethargic and lazy.
I’m not going to lecture you on healthy eating (there’s enough of that going around!) but I’d recommend trying to choose foods that will fill you up and release energy slowly, like bananas, brown rice and porridge topped with raspberries. You’ll need to fill up on water too, but if you’re not a fan you could try making some juice instead. One of my favourite things after a hot day of fasting is ice-cold watermelon juice!
I know it’s hard to cook a decent meal everyday when you’re living in student accommodation, especially during exams. If you think you’ll have trouble, try batch cooking lots of healthy meals in advance and storing them in your freezer – that way, all you have to do is defrost it and put it into the microwave. If you’ve got lots of fasting friends, you could also try cooking together. Check out your local mosque too – some mosques organise communal meals during Ramadan.
4. Check when your exams are
A few exam boards have moved some exams to before Ramadan or rescheduled them for earlier in the day, when we’re less hungry and more able to concentrate. Because of this, you should definitely double-check whether your exams have been rescheduled!
Once you’ve confirmed them, set some alarms in advance to make sure you can wake up and still get there on time. With your routine all out of sync, you don’t want to sleep through your exams – I for one find it extremely tough to wake up during Ramadan!
You might feel like you’re missing out on the spiritual benefits of Ramadan because you don’t have time for extra prayers, Quran recitation or charity work. Don’t forget that revising is spiritual too! Educating yourself is also an important part of religion.
Revise with good intentions: to increase your knowledge and to make your teachers and loved ones proud of you. And remember that sometimes small gestures are most valuable. Is there any better charity than helping out your friends and classmates during this stressful time?
Credit : https://www.student.com/articles/exams-during-ramadan-how-to-prepare/
These are the 40 top things that you can do to improve your English
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and actually mistakes are the best
way to learn something new. Be confident, even if you make mistakes.
2. Surround yourself with English. Put yourself in all English speaking environments and
listen close! Watch TV in English, listen to English music, and talk as much as you can in
3. Practice, practice, practice. Make a study plan. Decide how much time per week you
want to study English, and force yourself to do it. The more routine your English practice
becomes, the more likely you are to practice frequently.
4. Practice all four core skills: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. All of these are
necessary to improving your English.
5. Keep a notebook with you and write down any new words you learn. Try using them
when talking to people in English.
6. It will be easier to learn vocabulary if you remember a sentence with the word rather
than only the definition.
7. Don’t only study for tests, study for daily life! Give yourself goals outside of school.
8. Create an atmosphere in which you want to learn, not just because you have to. Remind
yourself why you want to learn English.
9. Get help! If you don’t understand something, do NOT be afraid to ask someone.
Teachers, classmates, and friends are all there to help! They will want to support you in
learning English. If you never ask, you will never know!
10. Don’t be in a hurry to move up levels at school. Concentrate on fully understanding
everything in your current level. Moving up is not the goal, learning English is!
11. Watch TV and DVDs. You may have grown up hearing that too much TV was bad, but
when it comes to English, TV is great practice for listening skills and understanding
difficult slang or idioms that are common in conversation.
12. Read graded readers, or Penguin books of various levels. These books are entire novels
modified to fit various English levels.
13. Read for general meaning first. Don’t worry about understanding every word, you will
miss the point of the reading! Once you understand the main points, then go back and
look up new words.
14. Before pulling out your dictionary to look up a new word, first think about it in context.
Read or pay attention to the words around it and try to understand the word first before
double checking with a dictionary.
15. English, unlike some other languages like Japanese or French, uses word stress. For
new words, try to count the syllables and find out where the stress (or emphasis) is in
16. Learn prefixes (dis-, un-, re-) and suffixes (-ly, -ment, -ful), as these will help you figure
out meanings of words and also help you build your vocabulary.
17. Use English at ALL times. It’s as easy as that!
18. You can’t learn English from ONLY reading a book, just like riding a bike- you don’t know
how until you just do it!
19. On that note, the best way to learn natural grammar is through talking.
20. Keep a journal in English about your experiences in the US. This will help you with
writing while also being able to see the improvements in your writing throughout your
time studying in the US.
21. Sing your heart out! Learn English songs and sing along with them! This will help you
improve fluency and intonation… ready for Karaoke?
22. Dictation. While listening to music or TV, try to write down what you hear.
23. Nobody likes to hear their own voice, but recording yourself speaking English will be
extremely helpful in accent reduction.
24. Don’t become too reliant on your dictionary. Your dictionary should be an aid, but not
your teacher. Try to guess the meaning of the word before checking on your dictionary.
25. Don’t give up! Learning English can be frustrating! Keep working hard, keep trying, and
you’ll keep improving!
26. Have fun!! You’ll learn MUCH quicker if you are having fun doing it. 🙂
27. You are never too young or too old to start learning English. Don’t make excuses!!
28. There are many types of English: British, American, South African, and so on. None of
these are wrong, nor is one better or worse than the rest. English is English! It will be
helpful, however, to practice listening to every kind of English accent.
29. Phrasal verbs (two word verbs) are VERY common in English. There are hundreds of
them! The more you focus on their meaning, the more you’ll be able to guess the
meaning of new ones and recognize the patterns.
30. Don’t worry about a bad test score. Passing or failing an English test does not correlate
with one’s ability to communicate in English. Just keep working hard!!
31. Get used to the ‘schwa’ sound, or an unstressed and toneless neutral vowel sound that
sounds a little bit like ‘euh.’ It is the most common vowel sound in English! Think the ‘a’
sound in about, or the ‘u’ in supply.
32. Learn the differences between formal and informal language. It’s better to use slang and
casual conversation skills with friends and in most situations, but not in a business
meeting or interview.
33. Textbook English is normally a lot different than how people actually speak. Watching
TV and listening close to surrounding conversations will help you to grasp a better
understanding of “casual conversation.”
34. Make use of the internet! There are tons of English websites and English games. Try
BBC Learning English or watch TedTalks videos!
35. When talking, we usually link words together so that two words sound like one word. For
example, any word followed by a word starting with a vowel sound will be connected
36. Learn from your mistakes! If you keep making the same mistake, practice, practice,
practice!!! Keep practicing the mistake until it is no longer a habit.
37. While it can be comfortable to hang out with only people from the same country as you,
try to make friends from other countries! This will force you to speak English and also to
enjoy a more culturally rich experience while studying abroad.
38. While taking your courses, be prepared for class! Do your homework, practice outside of
class, your teachers assigned it for a reason!
39. Find a comfortable, peaceful place to study quietly. Distractions will keep you from
remembering the things you have studied.
40. And finally…… Study English at Hollywood College!!!
So you’ve decided to come study English in Los Angeles! I think you’ve made a great decision! Los Angeles is a multi cultural city with a great location in the US near beaches, mountains, and even the desert all within a few hour drive! Before you come to study English the the USA, it’s important to learn a few things about American Culture.
America’s population is extremely diverse. In cities like Chicago or San Francisco, 1/10 of residents were born in a foreign country. In the two biggest cities, Los Angeles and New York, more than 20 percent of the population was born in another country. In every big city in the US, you will find people from almost any country in the world. Terms like “Asian American,” “Italian American,” and terms to represent other various ethnic heritages are common.
When it comes to religions, America’s population has Catholics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, and every other religion you could think of. What about in Politics? We have Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Socialists, etc… America has very rich and very poor, very conservative views and very liberal, and thousands of various jobs. So with all this diversity, who is to say what is really “American”?
Americans typically do not view themselves as a good “representation” of what it means to be “American.” We usually see ourselves as individuals who fit into the melting pot of cultures in America. While, Americans do have many stereotypes for the various cultures in our country, we have a difficult time choosing what exactly is “American.” However, there are some cultural norms that I will share today.
Because most Americans have a difficult time putting a label on what is “American Culture,” many people pride themselves on their individualism. Most Americans have been raised with the idea that they are separate individuals with their own responsibility for their life. Most are not raised to feel a close-knit connection with other groups, and are proud of their own individualism.
Most Americans do not display the same level of respect as other cultures. American culture is not as traditional or family-oriented as many other countries and children often feel it is parents responsibility to care for them. Once reaching adulthood, many Americans lose close ties with parents and view themselves as an equal and individual person apart from their families. However, because American culture is so varied, this is not true for all Americans and is only a generalization of many.
Privacy and Personal Space
As most Americans put a large importance on Individualism, privacy is also a big factor of the American lifestyle. Many Americans assume that people “need some time to themselves” or “time alone” to think about their own life. Most Americans will not understand foreigners who always want to be with another person, or who don’t ever want to spend time alone. Personal space and privacy are important to many American’s lifestyles. Try to avoide physical contact while speaking, as this may lead to discomfort. Touching in any way (arms around shoulder, touching face, holding hands) is usually too intimate for American friendships. When meeting someone, shaking hands is acceptable and sometimes a hug to say goodbye is acceptable for a close friend.
American Culture is built upon the idea that “All men are created equal.” Many Americans hold a deep belief in this concept and let it guide their daily interactions. However, this idea sometimes isn’t fully implemented in rural, or countryside, communities. Sexism, racism, and other discrimination still can be found within America, though it is slowly becoming not acceptable. Social order is not formally admitted in the US, instead people will use their tone of voice or subtle signs to acknowledge status amongst themselves.
Directness and Assertiveness
Americans are not raised to mask their emotional responses and as a result are much more open about their emotions in public. Americans usually consider themselves to be open and direct in the way they deal with people. They will often speak directly and open about things they dislike. In situations they believe should be different, Americans use “constructive criticism,” which spins the negative comment with a more positive connotation. Even if they don’t speak what’s on their mind, they often show it through body position and gestures. Americans in general are not afraid to speak up or ask questions, and foreigners are expected to act the same.
The notion of equality leads Americans to be very informal in their behaviors and relationships with other people. Americans are very informal in speech; often using slang, first names, and informal gestures. On campuses, the dress is very informal- do not be surprised to see students wearing pajamas to class! Also, the relationship between professors and students is informal, equal, and often more like a friendship than what a foreigner might expect to be a student/professor relationship.
Time and Punctuality
Americans generally organize their life activities using schedules. Punctuality and adhering to schedules is usually extremely important to most Americans. The phrase “Time is money” is a common expression that many Americans use. For these reasons, Americans may seem hurried- always running from one thing to the next. They may seem like they can’t relax and enjoy themselves, or that they are always rushed. It is important for you to arrive on time to appointments, meetings, or class. Sometimes you will not even be allowed to enter class after the specified start time. Many Americans frown upon tardiness and will become aggravated or upset. If you are going to be late to or miss an appointment or event, you should contact the others involved ahead of time to let them know that you will be late or be absent. This is important to keeping positive relationships with American people.
Hard Work and Achievement
People who center their lives around goals and achievement are usually highly respected in American Culture. “He’s a hard worker,” is a highly positive praise used frequently. Amerians admire people who are persistent and conscientious when approaching tasks. Foreign visitors often remark that Americans work harder than they expect, and likely this is because of American movies and television programs which usually depict Americans as more focused on fun activities and love. However, most Americans have a very strong work ethic and stay active in their daily life. They believe it’s important to devote significant energy to their jobs and to other daily responsibilities. Americans generally like to be doing something most of the time. They usually do not enjoy sitting for long hours just talking with other people; they will get restless and impatient.
Most Americans eat three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast and lunch are typically smaller than dinner, which is the main meal of the day. Breakfast begins between around 7:00 am, lunch around noon, and dinner around 7:00 pm. On Sundays, many Americans eat “brunch” which is a combination of breakfast and lunch, typically eaten around 11:00 am. Because there is very little “American” food, much of American cuisine is based around cuisine of other countries.
Tipping is expected in the United States. Restaurants do not include a service charge in bills, so you must do the math to tip. Generally a tip should be 15% of the bill, with excellent service getting a 20% tip. Taxi drivers expect you to tip 15% of the total fair. Driving apps like Uber do not require or expect a tip. Hotel bellhops (the people who carry your bags) except a $1 tip for helping you with your bags. Room Service generally includes the tip within the bill. Valet parking attendants also expect a $1 tip. Though not usually listed on the bill, tipping is an extremely important part of the service industry in the US.
Americans generally come across as very outgoing and friendly. They quickly make friends and usually have many casual friends, as well as a few close friends. Relationships can usually be formed when a foreign student takes initiative to meet U.S. people at the work, or by participating in social events throughout the community. In L.A., for example, many of our students have American friends by joining clubs or by taking classes for their hobbies (dancing, yoga..). These clubs or social activities are great way to make lasting connections!
Americans have so much diversity within the country. American people hold diverse opinions because the country is so vast. You are likely to meet devoted conservative Christians, modern-day hippies, and everything in-between on a daily basis. Listen to what others have to say before you share you opinions, but don’t be shy to politely explain how you feel about any subject! While the country is an extremely complex, country, I have no doubt that you will fall in love with the extremely diverse “American culture” that you find while studying and living in Los Angeles.
Saying “I eat spicy food” is not the same as “I am eating spicy food.”
But what exactly is the difference?
These two sentences use different English tenses.
Tenses tell you when something happens. Getting the tense wrong in a sentence can change the entire meaning of a sentence or could lead to confusion and misunderstandings.
Learning English tenses can seem difficult at times, but I’m going to talk you through how to use them with a few simple rules!
Past, Present, Future!
English Language has three basic tenses: the past, the present, and the future.
Past Tense: Used for anything that happened before this exact moment in time, before right NOW.
I ate spicy food yesterday.
Present Tense: Used for anything that is happening right NOW and also for general statements.
I eat spicy food.
Future tense: Used for anything that will happen sometime after this moment, or later than right NOW.
I will eat spicy food tomorrow.
Sounds easy right? Of course it’s not that easy.. You wouldn’t be reading this guide if it was! 🙂
Simple and Continuous
These tenses have some variations that change the meaning and make them more specific.
All three tenses have two main types of variations: simple and continuous.
Continous Tense: Used for actions that repeatedly happen over some period of time.
Simple Tense: Used for everything else.
Since the past and present tenses are very closely connected, we will look at them together first, starting with the easier of the two: simple tense.
The simple present tense is used for three main things.
1. To describe things that are permanent
2. To describe how often something happens
3. To talk about scheduled events
To use the tense, add an -s to the end of the verb when “he” “she” is doing the action.
He eats spicy food.
Use the unchanged (or base) verb when anyone else is doing it.
I eat spicy food.
The simple past is used in a very similar way to the simple present.
Many verbs you will add -ed to a word, but some irregular forms change the word when used in simple past. Unfortunately, the only way to learn these, is by studying and remembering them!
Use the simple past if you want to describe an action that already has happened.
This description of a trip uses the simple past tense: “Last year I visited Chicago. I lived downtown for a month. I rode the train, took many pictures, and walked around Central Park.”
You can also use this tense for many of the same reasons as the simple present. It can be used to describe a hobby or habit you had in the past, or something you used to believe was true (but not anymore!).
Often we actually use the words “used to” with this tense. For example, I used to play the piano. This sentence means that I played when i was younger, but not anymore.
To speak about the future you need to add with words “will” or “is going to” before an unchanged (or base) verb.
Usually either “will” or “is going to” will work here!
I will call you later.
I am going to call you later.
The only difference here is that “going to” is used more often for things that have been planned. The first sentence is just saying that sometime in the future it will likely happen without giving it much though, while the second is saying that a call has been previously planned. The difference is not very big and either will usually work.
Both can be used for predictions too, or things you think will happen.
I think I will get married next year
I think I am going to get married next year.
The word continuous means something that is happening right now or is ongoing.
The continuous tense is formed using the -ing ending of a verb (eating, swimming) in both the present and the past.
You can use the present continuous to talk about something ongoing or that is happening now or will soon.
Right now, you are reading our blog. Maybe you’re drinking some coffee or eating a snack. Later today you might be meeting up with friends, and tonight you will be sleeping.
By adding the words “always,” “constantly,” and other frequency words, you can express the frequency of the actions.
My husband is always complaining!
My dog is constantly barking.
This tense is used to describe a continuous action that has been interrupted. For example, if you tried to call me when I was sleeping, I might respond with:
Sorry I didn’t answer the phone, I was sleeping last night when you called.
You can also use this tense to say what you were doing at some specific time in the past. For example:
Yesterday, I was already eating dinner at 6 pm.
I was reading my book the entire night.
For Past Continuous you will use a past “be” following by a verb + ing.
I was running away from the monster when I fell down.
The last way to talk about the future has the same uses as the past continuous.
You will use this tense to talk about things that may be interrupted in the future, or to say what will be happening at a specific time in the future.
Just add the +ing form of a verb after the words “will be” or “am going to be”
Make sure you arrive by 7, because we will be eating dinner then.
Come to school on time, we are going to be starting the test right away.
To Sum Up All the English Tenses
Here is a quick summary of all things discussed
Something unchanging, general scheduled, or happening NOW.
Something that is happening now or in the near future. Is/Are + verb-ing
Something that happened before now. Verb-ed, or irregular past verb
Something that got interrupted by an event or a time. Was/were + verb-ing
Something that will happen later than now. Will+verb/ Is going to +verb
Something that will be interrupted by an event or a time. Will be +verb-ing, Is going to be- verbing
Wow! Great Job!! I know these are totally confusing, but great job keeping with it. The more you speak and write, the more practice you get, and the more these will start to feel natural. Once you have these down, you will wow your English Teachers and friends in your Language courses.
So, you’ve decided to study English in the USA. Great! Now, do you want to thrive in your
English classes? Do you want to be the ultimate English student? Here are ways to not just be
successful in your English Courses, but to be outstanding!
1. Read, read, and read even more! Sitting on a train? Read. Bored at home? Read.
Sitting on the beach? Read. Eating dinner? Read. Always have a book in your hand, and
read it every spare moment you can. Read English classics, read magazines, or even
just read the news on your phone in English. Reading as much as possible will
absolutely help you succeed in class.
2. After reading, read what other people are saying about the books you’ve been
reading, or other’s opinions on topics you are reading about. Summarize your own
views and decide if you agree with others, or disagree.
3. Share your opinions. When people, ask about your opinion, practice explaining why
you feel a certain way.
4. Work on being specific in your answers. Instead of answering a question about how
you liked a move with, “Yeah, it’s good,” say something like “I like the way that writer
developed the characters. I also thought the ending was surprising!” Work on using
developed and thought out answers.
5. Compare the situations you read in class to situations in real life. Find the main
ideas in everything you read. What is the message? What exactly does it mean? How
can you relate to what you read? Asking yourself these questions will help to develop
strong answers and opinions that will be helpful in your studies at an English school.
6. Take notes. If you’re reading and come across something that impacts you in some
way, mark the text with a stick-on tab (or Post-It note). Don’t draw or underline in the
book because you may not be able to find the page it’s on. Post-It notes will help to
quickly flip to parts that you liked. Take notes when you’re watching TV about main
ideas, slang or idioms, anything! Note-taking is a very valuable skill to have!
7. Participate in class. Don’t just sit in the back corner and hide from the teacher, feel free
to share your opinions. Be ready to explain why you feel that way, and don’t worry if
others disagree. An important part of an English Speaking Class is being able to have
8. Write essays in your free time (even if they were not assigned in class). Look online
for essay topics and practice structure, vocabulary, grammar tools. Write stories! Write
poems! Write anything that interests you! Don’t let writing scare you, as so many
students do. The more you practice, the more confident you will be in class.
9. Once you finish writing your essay, check and edit your own paper. Using Microsoft
Word will help to find spelling and grammar errors. Reading out loud will help to check if
the essay flows smooth.
10. If your teacher grades your work strictly, don’t be afraid to ask why. Teachers are
there to help! They don’t want to discourage you, they want to help you to be the best
you can be. Teachers will always answer your questions and will appreciate the extra
effort you put into asking them about your grade.
11. Speak English ALL the time! Speak English, watch TV and movies in English, listen to
music in English, and do everything you can in English both inside of class, and outside
of your language school.
12. Last, but not least… Have fun! Don’t be hard on yourself if you make mistakes,
everyone makes mistakes! Plus, mistakes are the best way to learn. So, don’t be shy, do
your best, and you’ll do great in your English Courses. 🙂