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Preparing for Exams & Assessments

We have all seen that person who seems to be comfortable with assessments and exams.  Supremely confident, never worries, always seems to be able to remember the right information. If they are good at exams and assessments, one this is for sure, they weren’t born with that skill, they learnt it.  Another thing is also certain, they will feel anxious, because our brains are wired to feel anxiety in certain situations, it’s part of our survival mechanism as humans.  Additionally, experiencing some anxiety is essential for us to be able to perform to the best of our abilities.  If anxiety is getting the better of you and stopping you from being able to function, use the anxiety strategies that are in the tools section of the Mind Yourself App.

Preparing for assessments is just that, it’s all about systematically preparing.  Zig Ziglar once said “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great”.  

Help getting started

The first and most obvious thing to state is – give yourself time.  It can be tempting to procrastinate, become distracted, prioritise other things.  This is an understandable psychological defence mechanism, while you’re doing other ‘more important’ things, you don’t have to connect with anxiety related thoughts of, ‘not knowing, stupidity, failure’ and these thoughts can come thick and fast.  Remember though, trying to avoid these thoughts by procrastinating is more likely to make them come true.

Break it down!  Don’t make a mammoth revision list, break it down.  Prioritise areas of knowledge and break them down into smaller chunks and then give yourself permission to do one little chunk at a time.

Watch for perfectionism – it doesn’t have to be perfect, the fact that you’ve started is enough, just keep with the consistency it will come as you study and revise more.

If all else fails, JUST START.  Your mind will probably go haywire at this point, and offer predictions about the future and failure (by the way, remember – if your mind’s so good at predicting the future, get it to tell you next week’s lottery numbers, it won’t be so hot at predicting positive things with certainty!).  Start by reading anything related to your study, no matter what it is. Just doing something related should make you feel better about it.

Once you’ve got started, make a plan with some goals.  Bear in mind the plan is just that – a goals statement, a list, it is not for general consumption on a daily basis!  In doing this your mind will again become unhelpful by telling you what you don’t know, how daunting or impossible it is.  Don’t let it go on, plan for bite sized chunks and then DO.

Try to identify someone you can study with or check in with (study buddy), you are more likley to engage with the process if you are accountable to someone else (but watch for mind comparison as in “they get it more than me, they’re better at it than me” etc).

Make sure that outside of your plan you do fun or spontaneous things.  Keep yourself hydrated and fed (body and mind).  

If all of this fails, above all else. BE KIND TO YOURSELF.  You haven’t failed, You’re not weak, stupid or inadequate.  Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid”.  Seek help, let people know (tutors, peers, mentors) that you are struggling and ask for help.

Review the ‘Tools’ section on ways to support you. 

If you or a loved one is in immediate crisis...