Courtesy of Tufts.
Psychologists say that it is human nature to be negative - a sort of survival mechanism. But a mind steeped in negativity, such as mine, will only worsen one's survival chances.
I think we should all develop a more positive mindset to exams if we have not done so already. Here’s some mind-changing suggestions that I have found inspirational.
Picture yourself getting a big fat A and visualize this over and over in vivid detail. If you maintain a positive, 'I can do it' attitude building up to your exams, your stress will be transformed into positive energy that can be harnessed to enhance your performance.
View the exam as a time-bound project of 90 days. Look forward to the fun and challenge in store on completion
It’s only an exam! You’re not going to die. Your family will not get kidnapped and tortured if you fail. And there’s always the resit!
An exam is simply an opportunity to show what you know.
Exams are designed to HELP you, and provide the lecturers with feedback so they can help you further.
Think of an exam as a game - against the examiner - which could be won or lost.
You will be just the same person before and after the exam. Exams don’t measure anything really important about you.
You have had a number of successes already and have actually passed many exams - hold on to that. Focus on the positive aspects of the past rather than the negative ones, as this will spur you on to yet more successes.
When we become anxious we begin to have negative thoughts ('I can't answer anything', 'I'm going to panic' etc). If this is happening, halt the spiralling thoughts by mentally shouting 'STOP!'. Or picture a road STOP sign, or traffic lights on red. Once you have literally stopped the thoughts, you can continue planning, or practise a relaxation technique.
Use a mantra
Derived from meditation, a mantra is a word or phrase which you repeat to yourself. Saying something like 'calm' or 'relax' under your breath or in your head, over and over again, can help defuse anxiety.
Looking out of the window, noticing the number of people with red hair, counting the number of desks in each row... all help to distract your attention from anxious thoughts and keep your mind busy. Mental games such as making words out of another word or title, using alphabetical lists etc are all good forms of distraction.
It can help to carry or wear something with positive associations with another person or place. Touching this bridging object can be comforting in its own right, then allow yourself a few minutes to think about the person or situation which makes you feel good. This can have a really calming effect.
In exam anxiety or panic we often give ourselves negative messages, 'I can't do this' 'I'm going to fail' 'I'm useless'. Try to consciously replace these with positive, encouraging thoughts: 'This is just anxiety, it can't harm me', 'Relax, concentrate, it's going to be OK', 'I'm getting there, nearly over'.