7 PIECES OF ADVICE TO PREPARE YOUR MIND FOR WRITING EXAMS

Monday, 29 October 2018

By ASP School Projects

Get yourself in the right mind-set to achieve outstanding results this exam.

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Often when we start studying for exams, many emotions rush through us. We tend to feel anxious and stressed, or even start to procrastinate to avoid feeling anxious and stressed. How can we face to exams head on? The key lies in preparing our minds for success. Taking you exam is 50% knowledge and 50% mindset. If you walk into the exam hall with the thought that you are already going to fail, then you probably aren’t going to give your best and that leads to failing. However, if your mind is set for success and you truly believe that you can get the marks you want, then you will give your best effort and that leads to great marks. Dr Roopleen once said, “Quitting is never an option on the road to success. Find the way forward. If you have a positive mindset and are willing to persevere, there is little that is beyond your reach. The attitude of being ready to work, even in the face of challenges and despite odds, is what will make all the difference in your life.”


In this article we want to give you 7 pieces of advice to prepare your mind for writing exams:
1. Learn to breathe correctly.
2. Don’t think that stress is all bad.
3. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.
4. Don’t compare yourself to your friends.
5. Make use of practice exam papers.
6. Don’t bother with negative classmates.
7. Visualise what you want.


1. Learn to breathe correctly.

“Just take a deep breath and count to 10.” We’ve all heard advice like this. However, scientists have proven that controlling your breathing patterns, like taking a long 5 second in-breath and 5 second out-breath, you can significantly lower stress and signs of anxiety. Patricia Gerbarg, an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry and researcher on the importance of breathing said the following, “By changing patterns of breathing, we can change our emotional states and how we think and how we interact with the world. That’s a very powerful tool for psychological practices.”

So, when you feel overwhelmed while studying, get up from your desk and sit on a comfortable place. Then breathe for 5 minutes deeply and calmly. Feel your lungs expanding, feel your heart calming down and feel the oxygen going to your brain.


2. Don’t think that stress is all bad.

We are often so worried about stress, that we start to stress about the amount of stress we have. However, stress isn’t all bad. As humans we are programmed for survival. In order to survive we have a stress-response that is triggered when we are afraid or worried about something. Stress exists because it raises humans’ awareness and urgency to act.

Stress has its side-effects, but when you see stress as a way that your body is preparing itself for a challenge then you’ll perform a lot better. Stress increases your heartrate, which means you have more blood flowing to your brain. Stress helps you focus at the challenge ahead. Stress also makes you alert. These qualities can be used to your advantage when you view stress as your helping hand to perform better in exams. Read our blogs, ‘How to deal with exam stress’ and ‘7 Techniques to help young children deal with stress’ to better understand stress and how to deal with it.


3. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.

What do you do when you see your best friend stressed or worried? You don’t belittle them or tell them that they are going to fail because they didn’t work hard enough. You encourage your friend and make them feel worthy of achievement and success. You should do that with yourself whenever you start to feel angry or frustrated with yourself in exam time. Encourage yourself. Tell yourself you did a good job. Be your own cheerleader in times when it’s tough.


4. Don’t compare yourself to your friends.

When you compare your own achievements to those of your friends, you might start to feel like they are so much better than you. Don’t fall into the trap where you think you aren’t good enough. This only place additional pressure and unneeded stress on you. Instead look at your friends’ achievements as inspiration, wish them well and go on to focus on your own goals.


5. Make use of practice exam papers.

Using practice exam papers is one of the best methods to prepare your mindset for exams. This is because your mind will be familiar with exam conditions and how to answer questions, which reduces anxiety.

ASP School Projects specialises in practise exam papers. Our Exam Papers and Answers assist learners in mastering the technique of writing tests and exams. Our exemplar papers are presented in the same manner, format and difficulty level set by the NCS and is based on CAPS. The questions stimulate left and right brain activity. The following type of questions are included in our papers: Definition of Terms; True or False (Supply the Correct Answer if False); Match Column B to Column A; Diagrams and Sketches; Fill in the Missing Words; Multiple Choice; Short Questions; Long Questions; Crosswords. All subjects per grade are included and subjects are divided into terms.

To learn more about the importance of practice exam papers, read our blog, ‘The best way to know that you are prepared for your exam is through self-assessment.’


6. Don’t bother with negative classmates.

Negativity is contagious. The more time you spend around negative people, the more their negativity will influence you and you will then also become negative. We suggest you avoid negativity around exam time, especially before a test. For example, when a classmate comes up to you the morning of your exam, they might say something like, “I didn’t really study for this test” or “I know I’m failing this exam”. Don’t engage in this kind of negative conversations. If you do, you will go into the exam venue with a negative attitude. Rather talk about something positive, like the upcoming holidays, your dog or even that you look forward to an ice-cream that afternoon. If it’s too hard to flip the topic around to something positive, simply excuse yourself and walk away or go to the bathroom. You can even find a quiet place breathe in deeply to release the tension. Don’t let negativity bring you down right before the test. Stay confident. For more tips on how you can stay confident before your test, read our blog, ‘5 Tips to build your confidence in and out of the classroom.’


7. Visualise what you want.

Even though achieving your goals take a lot of hard work, visualising how you achieve your goals can bring you closer to the desired end result. Kimberly Hershenson, a therapist based in New York, said in an interview with Bustle, “Visualisation helps our brains send signals to our bodies to start behaving in a way consistent with the images in our heads. It helps give us a clear picture of what we’d like to achieve and a vision that it is, in fact, possible.” Therefore, when you visualise how well you are doing in exams, your brain will try to perform according to that image.


We wish every learner the best of luck with their preparation for exams. Don’t give up when things get hard. Don’t quit on your academic dreams and don’t limit yourself through doubt. As Bruce Lee once said, “If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.”

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