Throughout this blog, I will be referring to the experience I gained while preparing and sitting for the IB exams and University. Both academic areas have helped me build some experience from which I will share insights that may sound very trivial at first. However, simple thoughts are usually the most powerful in stressful situations.
During my IB exam period, I always kept in mind: exams are nothing more than a game. They are a game that can be tackled and won with the right strategy (a combination of your revision and psychological strategy). The revision strategy includes thorough planning of your revision time. For example, by isolating your weak spots per subject. This leads to the questions: when to revise what and in how much depth? You can also take a look at some organizational tools we are making available for free by clicking here.
The closer the exams get, the more your strategy should shift towards psychological areas (I call it the psychological strategy): how can I win the game by “controlling” the knowledge I absorbed throughout the past weeks. This means you should clearly differentiate between your long-term (revision) and short-term (psychological) strategies. This blog focuses on the latter.
The day before the exam:
Stop stressing. You planned your revision and tried to stick to your revision strategy (strategies will always change in practice, so don’t worry if it does). In case big heaps of subject specific content was not yet absorbed, don’t make yourself nervous. Quit making new summaries with the hope of really understanding those, instead, try to focus on the content you already know. Use the summaries you made or received from friends and review facts and definitions. I used to write 1-3 pages with all of these consolidated (I will unveil later, why this is the best).
In addition, take a look at the way your exams are set-up. You should somehow be familiar with its structure. You will know a large proportion of your subject’s content. Now is the time to put an eye on – again – what your exam exactly looks like (question types, paper types). Remember, it’s a game and you will need to understand all the players.
You will be nervous, whereby being nervous is nothing bad. Usually the level of stress increases closer to the exam date. This is why our psychological strategy should include the organization of all your tools – people tend to forget the simplest things as they focus on content related areas. On the day of your exam you should enter the examination room with everything in place. Ask yourself some of the following questions: Will those pens and pencils write? Does my calculator have enough battery? Do I have a transparent package/container into which I can place these tools? You can take a look at our exam kit – worry about less. Click here to learn more.
The morning of the exam:
Eat! You need to win that game, meaning you need to have power. I am the type of person who usually can’t eat a lot when I’m nervous. Always remember, do what you feel comfortable with, but you should try to eat at least a bit.
Hours/minutes before the exam:
Many experts and studies suggest you should not confront yourself with tons of subject specific content right before the exam. I tend to agree. However, when nervous and having your breakfast, sitting in the bus on your way to school or waiting in line at the school cafeteria, you might forget some key words, facts, statements that are essential to bring your knowledge to paper. Remember the 1-3 page list you should take a look at the night before? This is when it comes into play. Don’t worry, your deep knowledge will not vanish – it’s usually tiny facts and figures that might. Such list that consolidates some factual knowledge, will not harm you in any way – it’s just a security measure to refresh your mind.
Another phenomena I never understood are huge discussions about certain areas of the subject right before the exam. This will not help you. Don’t participate and let others unsettle you – focus on the game. You studied enough and know the content.