We can all feel considerable anxiety about taking examinations, with the ever-present fear of failure or not getting the results hoped for. The advice in these circumstances is to try to get into a more relaxed and positive frame of mind. This will be considerably easier if you have an overall good feeling about your studies and confidence in yourself (see motivation and self-esteem). Moreover, if you have been developing good learning skills, for example in note-taking and essay-writing, then you should be feeling well prepared and even ready to enjoy the examinations!
There are some basic strategies which can help you during revision and the examinations themselves. Consider the following:
- It is good to avoid overloading yourself during revision. You can help to achieve this by condensing your notes into summary sheets of key information or 'flash cards' which you can glance at when sitting on a bus, etc.
- If you use mind maps you should find that these can be especially helpful during revision. A good revision test is to try to draw a particular mind map from memory.
- Looking at past papers can help you to keep your revision on track.
- During the examinations themselves it is clearly vital to read the question papers thoroughly at the start to ensure that you subsequently answer the correct number of questions and that you choose the questions which you can best answer.
- It is also vital that you divide your time up appropriately so that you are able to answer your full quota of questions.
- During the revision and examination periods you should try to live as normal a life as possible, ensuring that you take regular breaks, relax and get plenty of sleep.
More detailed guidance on revision and examination strategies can be found in most study skills books, and there are some relevant web sites listed below. However, the main advice is that you should aim to see the taking of examinations as an integral part of your positive approach to learning, and that with this attitude good results will naturally follow. Clearly as part of this, the development of your Inner Game, with its emphasis on staying relaxed and not trying too hard, is crucial.
For further information about preparing for and taking examinations see:
- How to pass exams? 7 useful tips
Preparing for Exams (University of Waterloo)
Test Anxiety Management (Utah State University)