This is the second part of the series on exams – have a look at Part 1 here

There are some things that you can do to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to get into the right state to study and then to get into the right state to be your best in your exams.

  1. Begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey wrote.  Think about after the exams; picture yourself holding the certificate (or whatever evidence that you have passed the exam works, like a driving licence). If it is a certificate, it is with the result that you want printed on it along with your name.  Think about where you are when you’re holding it, what can you see, what can you hear, what are you feeling?  Hold that picture; that is your goal.  Now, start thinking of what Michael Carroll calls the goal beyond the goal.  This is the benefits of achieving your goal – so what will having your achieved your exam passes mean for you – how will it change things, what will be different once you have passed, what will it enable in your life?  Take a moment to imagine these things and notice what it’s like to have them.
  2. Get into the right state for study and for the exams.  During your study, you need to get yourself into an optimal learning state.  What does that mean?  You are at your best, most resourceful state to learn as much as possible.  You’re motivated, you’re focused and you’re calm.  So, what can you do to get yourself into this state.  This is what I do, which is adapted from a yoga relaxation method and an NLP technique to create openness and alertness.  Both of these seem to work best to reaching the optimal state for study and exam recall.
    1. Sit quietly for a moment and bring your awareness into the present.  Notice what is going on around you; what noises there are, what you can see, what you can feel.  Whilst focusing on a something ahead, without moving your eyes, notice your peripheral vision, so that you can also take in a picture that runs from one ear all the way to the other.
    2. Next, take your awareness to your breathing.  Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out, allow yourself to relax into your chair.  Notice the contact you make with the chair and your feet on the floor.   Notice your body and notice any tension you have in your body.  Relax it, release it and let it go.
    3. Now take your awareness to a point about a hand span above the middle or your head and stay there for 3 breaths, then move to a hand span behind your breath and stay there for 3 breaths and then move a hand span in front of your eyes for 3 breaths.  Finally, bring your awareness back into your centre.  This exercise helps with concentration and recall.
  3. Mental Rehearsal – this is an NLP technique where you create and speed play a video in your mind of the exam.  Start before you leave the house, run the video of your journey to the exam, going in, taking your place, as appropriate for your exam situation.  Put as much detail, in adding any sounds or feelings, such as confidence, seeing yourself performing the exam, then take it to the end, when the exam is over, chatting to people afterwards, think about your feelings, then the rest of your day.  You can then skip forward to when you get your results, see yourself opening the envelope and being delighted with what is in side.  Really believe your video and as you focus on the positive outcome, you will be guided through your exam to that positive outcome… your creating your own positive future.
  4. Prepare your notes during the information/lesson input.  If you’ve started early enough, these daily and weekly practices can get the information into a good state to revise later.  You may take long notes during lessons/lectures/reading.  Get these long notes into a good state so that you can read them and understand them to make shorter notes or mind maps for later revision.  Check your understanding with your teacher/tutor or do more research at this point for any points you’re not sure about – that’s what they’re there for.

If you’d like to work with me on planning and maintaining your studies, please do get in touch.  I work using Skype or Webex and have the planning software to create a robust, visually helpful study plan.  I will prepare your plans with you and review your progress against that, so that you feel confident that you are on track to pass your exams.  Get in touch to schedule a session.