In this part of revision skills we will introduce a powerful,
practical procedure for overcoming exam nerves.
Relaxation is the body's natural antidote to anxiety. It
is impossible to be relaxed and tense at the same time.
Learning to relax is fairly easy and, once mastered, it may be
used in any potentially stressful situation, for example being interviewed,
asking for a date, or playing sport.
Before the Examination
Picture yourself going into the exam room, taking your seat behind
the desk and preparing for the start. Imagine turning over the paper,
when told to do so, and reading through the questions.
Create this scene as vividly as possible, not only seeing what
is happening but also hearing the sounds of the exam room: -
- The scraping of chairs as candidates sit down;
- The rustle of paper as questions are read;
- Perhaps the ticking of the clock.
If this makes you at all anxious, repeat the word CALM
each time you breathe out.
When relaxed again, return to the imaginary exam room.
Learning to cope with exam nerves in your imagination helps you
to avoid them in real life.
Relax the night before your exam, by clenching every muscle you
can and then relaxing them, and immediately on waking up the following
day. If you have little to do on the night before the exam, this
will help considerably.
||If you get the chance immediately
before going into the examination room, find a quiet spot and
spend a few moments sitting quietly and allowing yourself to
When sitting in the exam room, make yourself relax in the seat
by consciously relaxing each muscle, starting with your toes and
gradually moving upwards.
Practice these skills until they become second nature and you will
find yourself able to cope more easily, not just with exams, but
also with a wide range of stressful activities.
||MAKE QUITE CERTAIN YOU KNOW
WHERE AND WHEN YOUR EXAMS ARE, WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL BE PROVIDED
(OR NOT ALLOWED), AND WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO TAKE FOR YOURSELF.
IN THE EXAM, ANSWER THE QUESTIONS THAT ARE ACTUALLY SET;
STICK TO YOUR TIME PLAN; STICK TO THE RIGHT POINTS.
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NOT ON YOUR OWN, AND IN PARTICULAR
THAT IF ANYTHING SHOULD GO WRONG, DO TELL THE RIGHT MEMBER
OF STAFF STRAIGHTAWAY. REMEMBER THAT EXAMS ARE NOT DESIGNED
TO CATCH YOU OUT, BUT TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU KNOW, WHAT YOU
UNDERSTAND, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO.
This guide is intended to help with your revision, and your examination
technique, so that you can make the most of what you know, understand
and can do.
It does not offer a way round the problem of lack of effort in
the past, but can help you make the best use of the time you have
IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT REVISION AND EXAM
· Do not pretend that everything can be done in a rush
the night before each exam.
· Work out how long you have got to revise before the exams,
and plan how to use your time.
· Make sure you know what will be examined in each subject,
and the way in which the questions are asked. Have a look at the
syllabus for this year's exams and past examination papers.
· Make sure you know what you will need for each exam
both what is provided for you, and what you must provide yourself.
· Make sure you know where and when your exams are to be
· Make sure you know the rules for each exam. Never be
tempted to break them!
· Make sure you are comfortable before going into an exam
- go to the toilet, wear comfortable clothes if your school allows
IN THE EXAMINATION ROOM
· Read instructions very carefully - do the right number
of questions from the right sections, and answer compulsory questions.
· Plan you time in the exam - if you only attempt half
the questions needed your best possible mark is 50% however good
· Read questions very carefully BEFORE you start writing
anything - not halfway through your answer. The examiners allow
time for you to read the paper when they plan the exam so don't
think that you are wasting time.
· Answer the questions set, not the ones you hoped for.
However good your work, you will get NO marks if you don't answer
the examiners' questions.
· Make sure your answers are carefully presented - write
clearly and label diagrams, for example, if this helps your answer.
· Let the supervisor know if anything is disturbing you
- other people tapping nervously with a pencil, noise outside
the examination room, or even the supervisor's squeaky shoes.
AFTER AN EXAMINATION
· Don't worry about the one you've just taken; you can't
do anything about it now! Concentrate instead on the next one.
· Tell you school straightaway about illness or other circumstances
which might have affected your performance.
DO NOT PANIC
· Exams are NOT designed to catch you out.
· Being calm and thoughtful in the exam will help you get
the most from your preparation.