Everybody has a slightly different technique of preparing for an exam. You might be someone who regularly reviews their material over the course of a year or more, or you may be the type who prefers to put in a big revision session here and there. Either way, the day will eventually come when the exam has to be taken, and by then, whatever preparation you’ve put into the exam will need to have been sufficient.
That doesn’t mean to say, however, that the way you spend those last few minutes can’t make a difference to how you perform in the exam. So, if it’s now 8:50am and your exam starts at 9:00am, here are some ways you can fill that time to ensure that you’re on the ball once you’re in that exam room or logged onto an exam website.
No last minute revision!
Any time you’ve ever lined up to prepare for a written exam, you’ve probably seen people whose heads are buried in textbooks, or are testing each other on those must-know facts that could be the difference between exam success and failure.
It may give a feeling of reassurance to skim read a few details just before the exam begins, but this last minute ‘cramming’ technique is a terrible idea. All you’re going to do is increase your anxiety levels and start panicking about whether you know something or not. Your brain doesn’t process information well if you force it to learn material under these conditions, and will probably become less focused on what you already know well.
With 10 minutes to go, you either know it or you don’t. Don’t get yourself in a tizzy before the exam has even begun.
A better way to approach an imminent exam is to be assertive, stand tall and believe you are going to pass it. Imagine yourself in the room or in front of the computer answering questions correctly.
Breathing techniques help many people gain composure before an exam. Breathe in as deeply as you can, hold it in for a few seconds, then slowly breathe out. Do this a few times and you should notice the calming effect you feel.
Some students don’t mind a bit of casual chat, perhaps about a completely different subject, before they enter the exam room, while others find it very distracting. If you want to make it clear that you’re not in the mood for a chinwag, try wearing some earphones and listening to relaxing or motivational music.
Exams aren’t just about ‘knowing things’, but also your own attitude and state of mind. The more aware you are of your thoughts and feelings, the more effectively you can use them to your advantage.
Our free ‘Enhancing Your Studies with Mindfulness’ course will give you a range of tips and techniques you can use to make sure you are studying in the right frame of mind. These will no doubt assist you if you take on any of our courses, and even in your day-to-day life outside of academia.