Here are a few tips on how to remain centred during the exam:
1. Prepare for the exam
Anxiety associated with exams is part rational, part irrational. Exams matter in certain ways and any normal person will be a little afraid that things might go wrong. Whatever the extent of your anxiety, it’s important not to judge yourself for it. The answer to the rational part of anxiety is to prepare for the exam: do the homework and do the papers. But what if that just isn’t enough to cope with your stress?
2. Prepare for the stress
Being stressed is a habit of sorts. The way we memorise things - poems, how to ride a bike, new words, what side we prefer to sleep on - anything at all, is down to the connections between the cells in our brain. If you form a connection and constantly use it - it gets stronger. That’s why you never forget how to breathe, but you may forget some reasonably useless fact you learned for a previous exam! Worry works the same way - the more you worry, the more it becomes a habit. How do you rebuild these roads in your brain? How do you close the tunnel to stress and build a motorway to calmness? Thankfully, there is a way. It’s called mindfulness. Here is an article written specifically for Leaving Cert students by a professional psychologist on mindfulness and anxiety.
3. Know the reasons why you are doing this
If you have good enough reasons, you will be able to get through your exams. What will doing well mean for you in practical terms? Maybe you would feel good about being able to purse a career? Drive a motorcycle through China? Will it mean financial independence? Will you buy a car? If you do something because someone else wants you to, you’ll never really get good at it. You need to know what you are doing it. Then things will fall into place.
Written by Martina, founder of 625points.com, who got 8 A1s in her Leaving Cert.