Great Minds are Young

Posts Tagged ‘stress

My two boys had their piano final exam 2 days ago. I was trying hard to make them feel relaxed and enjoy it using my special “supportive skills” 😉 Well, it turned out at the end much easier and less complicated then I thought…

I have two totally different types of kids. The younger one rarely shows signs of stress about a test or performance; he always acts cool about it, he never mentions it except to know what his reward would be if he made it, and set some bargains 🙂 On the other hand, the older one considers it a huge responsibility, worries a lot about his ‘image’, stresses about it and sometimes becomes irritable and emotional.

Two days before their performance, their keyboard wire broke by “magic” 😀 My husband and I decided not to replace it, and stopped mentioning the test.

The night before the exam I talked to them about the importance of being positive thinkers and having self-confidence. I told them I was very proud of them no matter what the results would be, and that I was very sure they were going to pass their test very easily… Well, I tried to prepare them and help them overcome their stress and focus only on the rewards they would get when they pass. For my younger son it was very smooth and easy, for he did not seem that worried. For the older one, it needed some extra hugs…

Well, of course I would like to give my lectures and support all the credit for my boys’ great performance the following day, but it was not really the case! I mean it did help them a great deal ;), but what did most of the job were two major things:

  1. Some extremely crazy moments they spent with their father, where they sang, listened to very loud music, yelled, laughed, jumped, joked around, etc. This helped them let go of all the stress, get distracted, and become much more relaxed.
  2. A very welcoming and smiley examiner. As they stepped inside the examination room, they could clearly see his big smile and feel his supportive and kind attitude, which relieved them and made them more comfortable discussing their performance and all the other related stuff.

Very simple things may help us release our tension, let go of our worries and stress, and perform much better. Most of the times a positive thought, a smile, a song or a dance could perfectly do the job!

It breaks my heart to see a lot of students heavily crying after the exam because they missed some important questions and lost lots of marks due to lack of time. In most cases, teachers don’t understand them knowing for a fact that the exam is not too long and the time allocated to it is more than enough; which is completely true.

Problems of time management are common in exams but they can be easily overcome by following few tips:

  1. Try to control your anxiety eliminating all negative thoughts and lack of confidence.
  2. Read all the questions thoroughly trying to weigh the level of difficulty of each question.
  3.  Divide your time between the questions, giving yourself at least 10 minutes at the end to check your work.
  4.  Start by the easiest questions, then the average ones, to move at the end to the difficult exercises. Being able to solve some exercises boosts your self-confidence and helps you perform better and faster.
  5. If you find yourself stuck on one of the questions, just skip it and immediately move to the next one. Don’t waste your time panicking or over-thinking about something that you just cannot figure out.  Just let go, move on to the next question, and get back to it at the end if time permits.
  6. Have the complete answer in your head before you start writing.
  7. Work with a smile on your face. This will help you relax and feel better about the exam and yourself.
  8. Stay focused, keep controlling your stress and anxiety through positive thinking and breathing exercises, keep track of time without panicking, and try to remain smiling and relaxed.
  9. Most importantly, if for any reason you end up with one or two unsolved exercises, it’s ok to feel sad or disappointed for a little while. But what’s not ok is blaming it on the moon, crying, and ruining your day. Learn to accept flaws, learn from your mistakes, move on, and start preparing for the following exam with a lot of determination and positivity..

Good luck 🙂

No matter how we lecture, advise, guide, or try to convince, most students stress a lot before exams! What’s even worse is that they have unhealthy habits that worsen their stress and negatively affect their results. In many occasions, I discussed some of the following tips with my students, and those who applied them reported a great success 🙂

  • Organize yourself and manage your time in an effective way. Instead of worrying, and nagging about the loads you have to study, set a schedule and a time frame for yourself and try to follow them. 
  • Allow yourself some time to rest and relax. Having fun is not a sin during exams. On the contrary, it is extremely helpful, provided that you manage your time wisely. 
  • Never stay up late to study and wake up very early to revise. If tired, your brain will function slower and less effectively. You will become very irritable and clumsy, your  daytime alertness as well as your memory and ability to think and process information will considerably decrease.  
  • Never go to bed straight after studying; allow yourself  some time to unwind and allow your brain some time to shut down. If you close your books straight before you sleep, you don’t give enough time for your brain to calm down and you’ll be having nightmares related to studying, or in the best cases you won’t fall comfortably asleep; your eyes will be closed, but your brain will be working, which will be painful and annoying. 
  • Never go to school on an empty stomach. If you’re hungry you won’t have enough energy to work and your concentration will considerably drop. REMEMBER! Drinking only milk or tea in the morning is NOT having breakfast.
  • Wear comfortable clothes (in your case, your uniform;) ), get a jacket in case it was cold, and visit the washroom before you enter the examination room. You don’t need anything to distract you from focus without realizing it.
  • Deep breathe before you start your exam. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, hold your breath and count to six, and then exhale slowly while counting to eight. When you deep breathe you lengthen and deepen the oxygen intake in your body, which nourishes all your body cells and helps you relax and get rid of your stress. It also helps you clear your mind and focus.
  • Be well prepared and confident. Panicking doesn’t help at all. If you don’t sleep well, you stress out and you lose your confidence you enter a vicious circle and you just add up more stress to your already stressed day!

Just BE PREPARED, TAKE IT EASY, and you’ll perform brilliantly 🙂

Good Luck Everyone 🙂


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