Passing exams

Have a positive attitude

If you have a positive attitude towards your exams, you increase your chances of performing well.

Which of the statements below are true for you?

  • Exams hold no fear for me.
  • I prefer exams to other forms of assessment.
  • I see exams as a constructive part of my learning.
  • Exams are a difficult but necessary hurdle to getting my degree.
  • Exams are pointless and painful.
  • Other people find exams really easy. I don’t.
  • I dread taking exams.

If your answers are in the top of the list: you have a positive attitude towards exams.Try to keep those positive thoughts in mind as you prepare for and take your exams.If your answers are in the bottom of the list: exams worry you and this feeling may make it more difficult for you to take and pass your exams.

Strategies to get positive about your exams

1.Visualisation- repeating a positive visualisation will improve your attitude towards taking your exams.Find a nice quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and picture the following in your head:

  • See yourself arriving at the exam hall. You are on time, well-prepared and calm.
  • You sit down at your desk and place your pens and everything else you need on the table.
  • The exam starts and you read through the paper for the first time. There are plenty of questions that you can answer. You are confident that your revision has given you the knowledge you need.
  • Picture yourself beginning to write, confidently and knowledgeably. The answers come easily.
  • You work through the paper, answering all the questions with good timing.
  • You have time at the end to reread your answers and make some corrections.
  • When the exam finishes, you have completed all of your answers. You are happy with the exam and confident that you have done well.
  • Congratulate yourself.

2. Positive affirmation -Change the message inside your head from, ‘I can’t pass exams’ to ‘I can pass exams’ and ‘I am going to pass this exam’. Repeat this message to yourself regularly while you are studying, on the day of your exam and while you are taking your exam.

3. Recognise the positive aspects of taking exams- Take time to list things that can make exam taking a positive experience:

  • focussed study
  • a clear summarising of your years learning
  • a chance to display your knowledge, etc.

4. Talk to other students who feel positively about exams.

5. Revision
If you have studied and learned a lot about the subject, you can approach it positively, knowing you're going to do well.

6. Lots of practice
The best way to avoid the fear of the unknown is to do lots of practise with past papers. Practise will make the unknown known.

7. Exam day nerves
Repeating steps 1 and 2 can help you with nerves on exam day. It is also a good technique to take 3 or 4 long, slow, deep breaths to slow down your heart rate.