There are two words I can utter to induce even the tiniest jilt of horror in every single student, at every different academic stage – those words? Exam. Season.
Yes, folks! The (temporary) ending is nigh! Grab your essentials and run for the hills, because the months of May and June bring much terror to any person who is either a) sitting exams, or b) who is relatively close to the former mentioned category. No-one is safe from the panic sweeping the nation. There is no where you can hide. So, question is, who you gonna’ call?!
The answer; your mum. And if you are anything like me, you shall proceed to weep down the phone whilst clutching your bottle of Kalms as though it is your only life-line.
However, this exam season has, for unknown reasons, been one of serenity and relative peace for me. Yes, I’ve still been revising like a mad lady in a hovel (my room) and you would be forgiven for assuming I’m an extra in some BBC Drama about mentalists by the notes plastering every single inch of wall in said hovel. Yet, with this being said, my usual erratic and worrisome behaviour is as non-existent as my pet giraffe. Now, I’m not suggesting I haven’t been a total pain in the behind to my lovely Sociology pals with my constant barrage of ‘Oh my gosh, have you revised this?! WHAT DID MARX SAY ABOUT WORKER RESISTANCE?!’ text messages, but it hasn’t been nearly as bad as the state I was in last June whilst sitting my A Levels.
I have been feeling so relaxed and calm about my exams that I’ve been worrying, about not being worried! After a discussion on Skype with my parents about how strange it is that I’m not a complete anxious ball of worry, as they have experienced every single time exams come about (props to you both, mum and dad!), dad suggested that it’s maybe because I’ve finally learnt how to control myself. Now, I’m not a complete liability – I like to think I’ve been able to ‘control’ myself since I could eat my dinner singlehandedly, but I don’t think we’re thinking of the same control here.
If you are a manic-worrier, have anxiety, have ever felt sick before an exam or even go a bit red when presenting in front of a group of people, you have undoubtedly experienced this type of ‘control’ we all evidently do. It’s possibly not even a conscious decision, but nonetheless, we make it. However, if, like me, you have always been a bit of worrier and are guilty of over-analysing every single thing said to you/you say, then this sense of ‘control’ possibly doesn’t come quite so easily. If at all. This is particularly poignant during exam season – it is so easily to identify the worriers before walking in an exam hall and I am, without a doubt, one of them.
Yet, after having former mentioned discussion with my dad, I realised that I HAD actually managed to control myself. This is a big step. And if there’s anything I want to achieve out of this blog post is to hopefully hand some of my control over to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a student, it doesn’t even matter if you’ve never sat an exam in your life! Trying and failing to control our emotions is something we have all, at some point, experienced.
It’s pretty simple, but the main way of controlling your worry, ESPECIALLY before an exam, is to put the work in! If you work hard, revise, really try to achieve, then you will (as all of our high school teachers used to say) get the results you deserve. Accepting and believing that is the main catalyst. If you haven’t revised and you’re worried, then that’s rightly so! Another way which you can gain some control is to just breath. Sometimes all you need is to put a good song on (I recommend Bon Iver), sit in a quiet place, and breath! People underestimate the power of a good deep breath – when you are taking shallow breaths, you’re not getting the correct amount of oxygen to appease your body and it just builds on your tension.
Finally, after revising and breathing, tell yourself one thing – your intelligence/worth will not be determined by an examination. Life is far too short to worry yourself to such a degree that you can’t enjoy the odd sunny day or go to the pub for a few hours with some friends! If you work hard, if the passion and determination is there, the rest comes easy. You have to take care of your mental wellbeing and happiness before trying to do anything else, or you’ll just crack under the pressure.
So, if you are about to/in the process of sitting your summer exams, good luck! As one of my most favourite authors ever, Helen Keller, said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” make sure you work hard enough that you give yourself the right opportunities for it to be the biggest adventure going!