Feeling extremely unconfident and scared for Year 13 - any advice?

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trulyindecisive
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I’ve recently gotten my mock results back and whilst I got ABB (English, History, RE) these were remote exams and so I found it much easier to concentrate and feel a little calmer (I suffer from anxiety regarding exams and often feel overwhelmed in exam halls) so I’m scared of if I’m able to replicate this, or do better in future exams. History in particular is extremely difficult for me and my grades are often fluctuating (in one essay I even got a D!) and though I’m averaging a grade B now History is ultimately unpredictable and I feel as if a grade A* is impossible. I think my only strong subject is English, with RE I got a B by 1% and so my brain keeps telling myself that I haven’t actually achieved a B - I don’t know, I often underestimate myself and I have a major inferiority complex given the fact that a lot of my classmates are extremely smart and I feel as if the odd one out, and one bad mark will make me feel like that’s my entire grade.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve my mock grades, especially with history because I got a D in one of my essays - even though I got a B overall! I think I let it define me too much, same with RE as I scraped the B according to the grade boundaries, but I want to work on being more positive because I’d love to apply to Oxbridge!

Any advice on how to feel more confident and how to cope with exam halls any easier, as this is my main problem - I also struggle with timing sometimes, but I feel as if my self-confidence is my main problem! Also, have any of you been in the same position? I don’t know if it’s just me...
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Ajwad45676
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Hi, well done on your mock grades. To be more confident with exam halls and exams, try to replicate the setting/situation at home.

I know a student who asked teachers if he could revise in the exam hall where his actual exams took place. You could try that.

To be less anxious with the actual exams, try to do as many papers as you can. In timed conditions. You will definitely be more confident after each paper. This will improve your exam technique.

Another thing to mention is to make your study desk like your actual exam desk (the one that you will at in the real thing). Have the same equipment in both settings.

Also, use spaced repetition and active recall. Its the best revision techniques that i used. Search Ali abdaal on YouTube. He goes into detail with these two areas on revision. They work really with your subjects. Try and use these methods before you start yr13 to see if they work.

Finally, focus on your weak areas and look at the feedback given by your teachers.
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thegeek888
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You need to go to you teachers and ask for past papers with the mark schemes and the examiners reports. Once you have identified what the mark schemes are looking for in your essays you will improve by 2 or 3 grades. Also the examiners report offers insight into what questions were problematic, which ones were easy or troubling to most candidates. Exam techniques are vital for the A*/A grades, so you really need to practice your weaker topics more than ones you're already confident with and can do easily.
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OW432
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(Original post by trulyindecisive)
I’ve recently gotten my mock results back and whilst I got ABB (English, History, RE) these were remote exams and so I found it much easier to concentrate and feel a little calmer (I suffer from anxiety regarding exams and often feel overwhelmed in exam halls) so I’m scared of if I’m able to replicate this, or do better in future exams. History in particular is extremely difficult for me and my grades are often fluctuating (in one essay I even got a D!) and though I’m averaging a grade B now History is ultimately unpredictable and I feel as if a grade A* is impossible. I think my only strong subject is English, with RE I got a B by 1% and so my brain keeps telling myself that I haven’t actually achieved a B - I don’t know, I often underestimate myself and I have a major inferiority complex given the fact that a lot of my classmates are extremely smart and I feel as if the odd one out, and one bad mark will make me feel like that’s my entire grade.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve my mock grades, especially with history because I got a D in one of my essays - even though I got a B overall! I think I let it define me too much, same with RE as I scraped the B according to the grade boundaries, but I want to work on being more positive because I’d love to apply to Oxbridge!

Any advice on how to feel more confident and how to cope with exam halls any easier, as this is my main problem - I also struggle with timing sometimes, but I feel as if my self-confidence is my main problem! Also, have any of you been in the same position? I don’t know if it’s just me...
(Original post by trulyindecisive)
I’ve recently gotten my mock results back and whilst I got ABB (English, History, RE) these were remote exams and so I found it much easier to concentrate and feel a little calmer (I suffer from anxiety regarding exams and often feel overwhelmed in exam halls) so I’m scared of if I’m able to replicate this, or do better in future exams. History in particular is extremely difficult for me and my grades are often fluctuating (in one essay I even got a D!) and though I’m averaging a grade B now History is ultimately unpredictable and I feel as if a grade A* is impossible. I think my only strong subject is English, with RE I got a B by 1% and so my brain keeps telling myself that I haven’t actually achieved a B - I don’t know, I often underestimate myself and I have a major inferiority complex given the fact that a lot of my classmates are extremely smart and I feel as if the odd one out, and one bad mark will make me feel like that’s my entire grade.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve my mock grades, especially with history because I got a D in one of my essays - even though I got a B overall! I think I let it define me too much, same with RE as I scraped the B according to the grade boundaries, but I want to work on being more positive because I’d love to apply to Oxbridge!

Any advice on how to feel more confident and how to cope with exam halls any easier, as this is my main problem - I also struggle with timing sometimes, but I feel as if my self-confidence is my main problem! Also, have any of you been in the same position? I don’t know if it’s just me...
I can’t give you too much advice on the other subjects but regarding history, I started off pretty badly also, at the start of year 12 I got a grade D and really did not enjoy exam conditions. In year 13 I was averaging out between A-A* however due to the lockdown probably won’t be sitting exams. To achieve the better grades I did the following:

1. Smash out the content. As boring as it might sound, if you’re really committed to the high grades there’s not really any other way. The way I did this was to make loads of slides/docs covering different factors and split them into different periods and printed them and put them in a folder. For example; if you’re studying the history of the USA like I did you’d cut the timeline into sections. E.g 1920-1945 and create a slideshow of each of the relevant topics such as feminism, the economy, foreign policy etc while noting each of the presidencies, also make sure to include statistics. This format can be used for any course content really. Once you have all the knowledge everything gets a lot easier. Even if you don’t manage to nail exam technique just listing loads of knowledge with some limited analysis to it usually guarantees you at least a B.

2. Perfect exam technique/writing style. I did this mostly by reading other people’s essays who had achieved highly, copying certain phrases and formats. The essays don’t necessarily have to about the same content either, just read it and pick out the best phrases and explanations (Use words/phrases like thus, consequently, subsequently, significantly, as a result, it is viable to contend that, etc). The AQA website has a lot of example student essays for history. I imagine this technique would help for RE and English too. It’s a good way of training yourself to be naturally fluent in writing like an historian which will allow you to write with more quality and probably at a better speed. Do as many practice essays as you can and exam timing will come to you naturally, but do make sure to check the time anyway and make sure you’re on track.

3. Know the mark scheme. Remember that an A level is literally just an exam. You could write an essay which is quite impressive but doesn’t capture the assessment objectives and thus would not gain high marks. The examiner wants to know that you understand the assessment objectives, so you should read and understand them fully. The technique I use to write a paragraph is to start by presenting a relevant piece of information. Explain why the information is significant and how it relates to the question and then use this as evidence to support your opinion on it. E.g if you get a “to what extent question” you’d draw out the information, prove its relevance and summarise “thus supporting the contention that.... to a large/small extent”. Finding a technique, as such, to nail the assessment objectives is very helpful.

Overall though, don’t overthink things. Like don’t focus on how other people are doing. Nobody cares who the best in the class was in year 12, let their egos fight with each other, you don’t need to feel like you’re competing with them. What really matters is how you leave and the effort you put in. An A* definitely isn’t impossible. It’s really all about commitment in the end. I’d agree with the previous post on overcoming exam anxiety. Simulating exam conditions as much as you can should help.

Anyway, all the best, good luck.
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