ADVICE FOR STUDENTS: SUPPORTING YOURSELF AND OTHERS THROUGH THE EXAM EXPERIENCE
The aim of this article is to get you to consider exactly what sort of support you will need in order to prepare properly for the exams.
Some people are lucky enough to be surrounded by people who are very supportive; others are not as lucky but whoever you are, it is crucial that you understand how best to support yourself.
Being able to support yourself means being better able to support others, and in this article, you will be asked to consider ways to do so.
You will consider ways to support your classmates during lessons, ways to listen more attentively – and you will be given the opportunity to reflect on the concept of study groups.
But needing support goes hand in hand with giving support to others. You can choose to go through the exams on your own, but if you share the experiences with your friends and really help each other then the whole exam process won’t seem so daunting.
Exams and tests create a great deal of stress for many students and it is vital that they get the support they need to cope with it all. That support can come from a teacher, a family member or a friend. So what is meant by the word “support”?
Walking up to someone and tapping him on the head, saying, “There, there. I support you,” is not going to make him feel particularly supported.
Support requires actions and as you define the word for yourself, keep in mind that passive support (cheering from the sidelines) can only go so far. Often, people want more than just a cheer they need positive, interactive engagement.
Everyone has the right to an undisturbed education. If that is your right, then you have the right to ask people, who are messing about, to stop because it is your education that they are disrupting.
Be aware, too, of your own behaviour and attitude in the classroom. What changes can you make to your behaviour to ensure that your classmates are not disturbed during the lesson? Even though you may not know it, your attitude can seriously affect the learning of others.
Learning with dignity can also be a real inspiration to those around you.
Your family members are not mind-readers. They are not going to know exactly how you best wish / need to be supported during the exam period. Therefore, you need to explain to them why you need their support, when you need their support, how exactly they can support you and, importantly, how you are going to show your appreciation for that support.
If, however, you show no interest in the exams and leave studying to the very last minute (if at all) then be aware that the support you need may not be forthcoming. Be also aware that their supporting you should not mean their having to do your work for you.
A study group is exactly that a group of friends, or like-minded peers, get together to teach each other different aspects of the work to be covered. There are many benefits to studying this way the primary being that it motivates you to study if you don’t, you let the others down, which essentially defeats the purpose of having a study group in the first place.
If you are going to form a study group, it is best to have “dry runs” during test periods, rather than start one up just before the exams. So, practise with an upcoming test if the group is successful as a group in preparing for class tests, then it stands a better chance of being effective in the run up to the exams.
There will be times when your classmates and friends will be looking to you for guidance and advice. Peer influence is a very powerful force, and if someone has turned to you for help, be very aware of the language you use.
Try to use positive, reassuring words, words that you would like to hear if you were in the same position. Even if the person who seeks your advice is someone you don’t particularly like.
If someone in your class is struggling to learn something you know well go and give them your support even if nobody offers you theirs.
Sometimes, the best way to support someone is just to “be there” for them which means they need for you just to listen without comment or criticism. But what does it mean “to listen”?
There are 3 aspects: hearing, understanding and responding. If we can repeat what someone has said, we have heard them; if we can repeat what someone has said in our own words, then we have understood them; if we can make sense of their information and extend it further, we are responding.
Many people don’t even get to the hearing stage they’re so busy thinking about what they want to say, that they don’t hear a word.
Some people are fortunate enough to get a lot of support in everything that they do. They feel encouraged, guided, understood and inspired by their friends and family. Others are less fortunate, and if you are one of them, learning how to support yourself becomes crucial.
Exams are a stepping stone to your future your future and regardless of whether you receive much support, you owe it to yourself to take care of your body, brain and lifestyle so that you can make the best of who you are and everything that you can be.
Learning to support yourself will also help you to support others.