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Maintaining a Positive Approach to your Exams

Exams can be a stressful time for everyone and it’s normal to feel nervous. Keeping a positive attitude to your exams can increase your chances of performing better. There are many strategies/techniques you can use to help you manage your nerves and to help you focus on the outcome you want to achieve.

Be prepared:

  • Create revision timetables so that you can make the most of your revision time. Research has shown that shorter revision spells may work better as you have a higher level of concentration. Study for 30 minute periods but give yourself a 5 – 10 minute break after each period. It’s important to make sure you have frequent breaks and also eat and drink regularly to help you stay focused. This doesn’t mean you stock up on sweets and energy drinks – the sugar content can actually make your nerves worse – eat the correct foods and drink water.
  • Find a quiet space where will be able to revise undisturbed. This could be at home, at a library or in school.
  • Get creative with your revision notes. Using colourful learning techniques can be easier to remember than just plain blue or black.
  • Speak to your teachers about past revision papers. Most exam boards have these on their websites. Visit our examinations page to get more information on our exam boards.

Think positive:

  • Visualise yourself arriving at school, in the exam hall, calm and prepared. See yourself open the paper and read the questions for the first time, knowing your revision has provided the knowledge and understanding you need. Visulalise yourself writing with confidence and work your way through the paper answering all questions in good time. At the end congratulate yourself as you know you have done well.
  • Use positive affirmation and change any negative thoughts of ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can do this’ and ‘I am going to pass these exams’. Keep repeating this message to yourself while you are revising and during your exam.
  • Determine the positive components of taking exams; being able to show the knowledge you have learned, focused subject study, focused and undisruptive environment and being able to epitomise your last two years of study. Use this as a focus point going into the exam.
  • Take the pressure off and reward yourself. It’s important that you get the right balance of revision time with leisure time. If you spend the day revising treat yourself to some time off and spend time with friends or relaxing at home.
  • Use relaxation techniques to help calm your nerves and focus your brain. Deep breathing and meditation are great ways to clear your mind. Regular exercise can help energise you.
  • Planning your exam days in advance can help you to keep calm and relaxed on the day.

On the day of your exams

  • Make sure you have eaten well and keep yourself hydrated with water; this will help to increase your concentration.
  • Breathe!! Taking a few deep breaths will help to relax your mind and body. If you find that you are having trouble starting the exam this technique could help.
  • Focus on your exam paper and block out any distractions within the exam hall.
  • Use all the time allocated to answer the questions. Don’t rush – it’s not a race!
  • Don’t panic if you can’t answer a question. Leave it and continue onto the next question, then you can go back and answer it.
  • Just remember you are not alone. Everyone suffers with exam nerves. Keep thinking positive and have a good attitude.