Over the past few days, the weather has been so great lately that it’s taken me back to when I was stuck indoors studying for exams. For some reason you can always guarantee that the weather will be beautiful as soon as it’s time to hit the books.
Thinking about the exams made me think about the pressure that there used to be at this time of the year; the nerves, the bad sleep, highlighting so many of your notes that the pages glowed. After so many years of taking exams this began to feel like an ordinary routine, so much so that even now it feels unusual not to be walking into an exam hall. The reason that this makes no sense is that there’s nothing less natural than the exam process. After studying a subject for months, or even years, to be expected to showcase the best of your work within the space of an hour is madness. There’s so much more to the learning process than how much information you can get down on a page before the clock runs out.
That said, all the theories in the work of the best approaches to educational assessment aren’t really going to help you have an exam coming up in the next couple of weeks, so for now students have to go with the flow. It’s unfortunate that so much of the educational system now is focused judging students’ progress with blunt instruments like exams. A system like this has no way of capturing the real strengths of young people, their personal development and the understanding that they have of the world around them. As Albert Einstein said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
It’s so easy to think that the exams that you’re taking are the most important thing in your life. It’s likely that revision or coursework will take over your life for at least a few weeks and that at some point you’ll feel stressed, nervous, tired and worn out with all the work that’s involved. All this makes it more important than ever that you look after your health, both physical and mental. You’ll only be able to perform well if you’re in good health, so don’t run yourself into the ground!
There’s great advice available on how best to use the time that you have to study and ways to look after yourself during the exam period. It’s worth listening to this advice and hope that it will make things a little easier. So sit down and eat your breakfast, take a break for a coffee with a friend or switch off your brain for an hour and watch Made in Chelsea. Also, get some exercise! I was and still am guilty of not making sure that I get enough exercise when I was under pressure and that’s one of the worst things that you could do to yourself.
Of course your exams are important, but at the end of the day they’re only exams. There’s nothing that can happen in an exam hall that will ever be as bad as you imagine. Even if your exams don’t go the way that you expect, this isn’t the end of the world. There are always other options, more opportunities and the chance to set new goals. If you try your hardest and give yourself the best chance to do well you can walk out of the exam hall with your head held high and enjoy what’s left of the sun.