Exams don’t have to be stressful. Although most people do, you don’t have to dread them, you don’t have to revise frantically and you don’t have to worry.
It all comes down to organisation. The most important thing to do is know what you need to revise. Make a list, with your teacher or tutor, of the key topics you need to revise and start doing it well ahead of time. Not so far ahead that you forget all over again, but at least a month or so before the exam itself. Your teachers or tutors will be able to advise you on when is the best time to start – and be ready to take their advice.
Once you have started, stick to your revision schedule. Plan breaks into your day or your evening; plan the occasional treat and plan the occasional test.
Then – finish your revision some days before. It is vitally important if you are going to enjoy your exams, that you aren’t still working frantically the day and the night before. Some people will tell you that it works for them – it’s highly doubtful and it’s not a good strategy. The best thing is to be as relaxed as possible going into the exam, so that you can think as quickly and as flexibly as possible. The day before the exam should be spent quietly or doing something fun if possible. Go swimming, go for a long walk, meet friends. But don’t spend it alone, chained to your desk.
So the first part of enjoying an exam is getting the revision right. The second part is getting the attitude right.
Exams aren’t there to trip you up, or to frighten you. They are there to see how much of your subject you really know. They are there to see how you work and think under pressure and to a deadline – all skills you will be regularly showing when you are in the world of work itself. So treat the exam as an opportunity to show what you can do. Teachers always say this and it does sound a bit corny to students biting their nails with anxiety, but take a deep breath and tell yourself that you got this far because you are *good*. You got this far because *you know your stuff*. That isn’t going to change just because you’re in an exam situation.
Treat the exam as you would treat a sports fixture. It’s there as platform for your talents, it’s a field waiting for you to show your talents to the world. The exam is a way for you to project and complete all your effort and all your commitment. It’s there for you.
When you see the exam as a platform, you can then enjoy it. You can see it as a challenge that you can meet.
Lastly, it does help to keep a little perspective. You can enjoy the exam if you know that it really isn’t make or break for you if you fail. There are options, including ones you haven’t even thought of yet, that you can explore if it goes wrong. Sometimes a failed exam is a route to a satisfying life you hadn’t even suspected was waiting for you.
But you won’t fail, because you’ve prepared thoroughly and you’ve approached the exam itself as something to showcase your abilities. Not only will you not fail, you’ll enjoy the experience for what it is – your creative mind, at its very best.