Here are some tried and tested remedies to the ‘I can’t answer anything’ feeling and other worrying thoughts about exams. When you get into the exam room and sit down, the following approach can help settle your nerves:
· Take a deep breath in and a long breath out
· Breathe in again and straighten your back – as if someone were pulling a lever between your shoulder blades. Look straight ahead at something inanimate (the wall, a picture, the clock) and focus your mind on the positive thought ‘I CAN DO this exam’ as you breathe out.
· Take another deep breath in and a long breath out. Then breathe normally.
· Read the paper, do so thoroughly. If you begin to feel panicky again, repeat the focusing exercise.
Panicking will stop you reading carefully so it is important to keep yourself focused and positive. Read the whole paper once, then read it again and mark the questions you think you can answer. Then read those questions carefully – make sure you understand what is required – and select the ones you are going to answer. Decide on the order in which you’ll answer the questions. It is usually best to begin with the one you feel most confident about. Think about how you will plan your time and stick to your plan. Plan out your answer for each question as you go. If you find that thoughts or ideas about other questions come into your head, jot them down on a separate piece of paper – don’t spend time thinking about them now. If your concentration wanders or you begin to feel panicky, you could try the focusing exercises again, or use one of the following techniques to help you overcome anxious thoughts. If you are worried that you haven’t got time to spare on this, remember that taking 5 to 10 minutes NOW may save you spending the rest of the exam in a state of panic.
This article was written by Cindy Dring ofStudent's Services Health Promotion. If you have problems or worries you feel you would like to talk about confidentially, contact Cindy at 091-492048. Alternatively e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or just drop in to Aras Ni Eimhigh.