An exam is not just about revision. It also involves the exam itself.
You can revise for weeks and then lose it on the day from a simple lapse in concentration, or a panic over unimportant issues. But what use would that be? And who wants to worry about something that causes enough anxiety as it is?
Go through the rigmarole of examinations with a positive step and some initial work. You need to be 7 things in order to achieve readiness for the big day:
1. Be Selfish – For once, you need to ignore what’s going on around you as you stand outside the examination hall. Exams are not group efforts. The revision is done and was unique to your own mental strengths. Now is not the time to consider what other people think will be in the exam and how they have prepared for it. You’ve done all you can, so listening to others 2 minutes before you step in to the room is only likely to knock your confidence.
2. Be Prepared – Exam logistics shouldn’t get in the way of your peace. Get ready the night before, have your equipment packed (with spare items, if feasible), and confirm where and when you are needed. Preparation gets rid of at least one concern and means you’re much less likely to make mistakes before you’re even tucking into your answers.
3. Be Refreshed – You’ve had months where you can stay up in the early hours of the morning. There will be many more months (unless you’re in your final year, natch) when you can go out and party the night away. The night before an exam is not the time to risk anything. For once, relax a bit, push the revision aside and go to bed in good time. When you’re in bed, don’t worry about tomorrow, or you won’t get to sleep!
4. Be Cautious – Don’t leave it to chance. Arrive to the exam in good time, read through the instructions, then read through the questions until you’re sure what is needed. Don’t rush the exam, even though you’re under a time limit. With some initial preparation in the first few minutes, you are in a good position to plan the allotted time well. Finally, consider what you want to write before you start writing…
5. Be Relevant – …And this is why you need to consider your answers. When it comes to marking exams, tutors still see answers to questions that were never asked in the first place. Blindly writing down what you’ve revised isn’t going to help if it doesn’t have a reference point to the question that’s been set. Always refer back to the question.
6. Be Choosy – Not all questions are equally weighted. Yet I often hear this kind of thing:
“I was stuck on that stupid question for half the exam. It wasted loads of time and it’s only worth a couple of marks. I didn’t have time to finish the rest of the questions.”
They might be annoyed, but the solution should have been obvious. Don’t waste time worrying over low-marked questions. You can always return to it later. Just leave a gap to come back to it, or answer the questions in a slightly different order, if allowed. In past exams, I’ve not always been required to stick to the answers in a linear fashion. Sometimes my paper started with question 3 before I tackled 1 and 2.
It’s not worth getting frustrated AFTER the event. If you find some questions too tough to answer, choose to move on and only return to the troublesome answers when you’ve finished the rest of the exam.
7. Be Yourself – While you may not directly be all the things above on a day to day basis, the final thing to be is all about you. Treat an exam day as a regular day and take the exam as a necessary use of your time. Just being yourself and letting the world run along as usual, you are using the most relaxing strategy. Yes, it’s important, but so is every minute of your life. So throw a curveball and enjoy yourself!
Put these qualities in to action and you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. Well, almost!