If you’re feeling anxious about exams you’re not alone, many students feel like this. Some students feel dread about the exams. They feel they are always hanging over them. It doesn’t help that the media, teachers and parents all seem to talk about the Leaving Cert and the ‘points race’ too.
Take a step back and look at how you are treating yourself, as well as your expectations. Are you being too hard on yourself? Are you telling yourself that one set of exams will decide how the rest of your life goes? Do you feel if you don’t hit certain standards you’ll be a total failure?
One way to check how hard you’re being on yourself is to ask: would I say this to a friend? If the answer is no, try talking to yourself with more kindness and compassion. The Leaving Cert may be the most stressful thing you’ve faced so far, so give yourself a break.Some students get stressed because they feel their exam results are the only thing that matters. They are letting the points define them. If you’re guilty of this, try to challenge that thinking. Is it ever fair to pin someone’s value on their score from one performance? We don’t think so.
Here’s another way to think about it.
Ask anyone who the world’s best football player is and almost everyone says Lionel Messi. But did you know Messi has never won the World Cup? He’s played in four World Cups, and he even played in the World Cup Final in 2014. In that game he missed a chance to score what could have been the winning goal.
After the final, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball, the prize given to the player of the tournament. There it was: he was the best. But he hadn’t won. His team had lost. Messi also played for Argentina in three Copa America finals. Argentina lost all three. Messi is considered the best footballer ever to play the game but he is not rated on his scoreboard alone. You shouldn’t be either.
If you surround yourself with people who are calm, that will help keep you calm. Try to avoid students who are stressed and always talking about the worst case scenario. Those people will add to your anxiety.In times of stress, try connecting with people that help you to put things in perspective and give you a more balanced view of how the exams fit in your life.
Move from the idea of being the best to doing your best