In my previous blog entries, I have already written extensively about the importance and comparability of grades and that one’s mindset and personal attitude and the focus on performance is much more important if you want to make the most of your abilities.
It is very helpful to know how to apply this knowledge and the theoretical concepts Grit, Growth Mindset and Flow in practice.
Probably the most uncomfortable part of your time as a student at school is the many exams that all of you are confronted with. In these situations of intense pressure, the concepts mentioned before can be applied in the following way to help you to be well prepared for any test and achieve your best.
The biggest hurdle for most students in exam situations is to accept that there are only two factors which are in a student’s control: 1. prepare as well as possible and 2. do the best you can.
Lack of Preparation
There is nothing more that can be done. The greatest factor of stress for most students is probably point 1. Often the feeling of pressure comes from a lack of preparation for the exam or from not having been able to acquire the necessary skills.
However, several other factors also play a major role, such as students knowing what exactly they will be tested on or the support they receive from their teachers in their preparation. However, none of these factors are in your control and therefore should not be be focused on.
You Cannot Know Everything
Not every student will be able to understand or learn everything that is required in an exam. Even if you are well prepared, there are certain limitations. Especially students who start with low grades or a lack of knowledge and do not have extracurricular support will have problems to prepare optimally and will have to go into exams with gaps in their knowledge. In this context, one factor is crucial: (healthy) self-confidence.
Students who are anxious before the exam or remorseful about not having done enough, already waste a lot of their mental resources and will have less energy to focus on the actual exam. This is even worse than taking exams with gaps in your knowledge. That is why it is important to prepare as well as you can and then to go into the exam with healthy self-confidence.
In other words, despite knowing that you didn’t learn everything you needed to know, you have to remember that you have done everything that was in your powers and then take the test with (healthy) self-confidence and do your best. You must not waste any thought on grades or your exam results, no matter if things are going well or not.
You work your way through the test and go from task to task. If you cannot answer or complete a task even though you tried your best, just move on to the next task. You have to be prepared that, depending on the subject, you cannot always know everything, even if you prepared well. Everyone has different interests and strengths and students who are outstanding in every single subject are rather rare.
Your mindset is important, especially in these moments of pressure. If you notice in an exam that things do not go as planned, stay calm and continue to work as focused as you can. After the exam, get to work and study what you did not know.
It will not make it better if you panic during a test, it will just get worse. In a situation like this, it always helps to keep an eye on the big picture. The result of an examination is not a life-or-death matter. Life goes on. Even if you fail a final exam at school or university, you are not doomed and need to forget about your career. Anyone who believes this seriously underestimate their own potential. Even in such a situation, there are still countless ways to achieve your goals and to make your dreams come true.
Don't Speculate About Your Grades
But it is just as important for you not to speculate about your grades, to calculate your average before the exam or to weigh up which grades you still need to get through the school year. All of this wastes precious time and mental resources that you better spend on improving your skills. If you always give your best, the outcome of a test does not matter, and you can be proud of yourself.
Grades Don’t Equal Success
One cannot deny that grades are a big factor in how far you advance professionally in our society and especially in traditional educational institutions and jobs. Of course, it usually will be easier for you to become professionally successful if you have good grades.
But with all the focus on grades, what must never be forgotten is two things: 1. that it is more important to work on your skills and to persevere and 2. that the grades in school or at university will not decide how successful you will be in your life.