After months of studying, your exams are about to start. No matter how well you’ve studied, your self-belief is just as important to your success as the academic preparation you’ve done. When you believe in yourself, rather than wasting time and energy worrying that you aren't good enough, you can use your energy towards the task at hand (your exam!). The link between academic confidence and getting higher grades has been found in a number of studies. Furthermore, having a healthy level of self-confidence not only helps you with your academic and professional success, but in your personal life as well.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do in order feel good about yourself and keep self-doubt to a minimum. Read on for confidence-boosting strategies that will help you achieve your full potential on exam day and beyond!
1. Visualise Yourself as You Want to Be
“What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” - Napoleon Hill
Visualisation is the technique of seeing an image of yourself that you are proud of, in your own mind. Not only can visualisation help you prepare for exam day, but it can also help you become happier, improve performance and be more clear about your goals.
Visualisation tip: Imagine yourself in your exam feeling relaxed, in control and speaking fluently. Go through exam day, starting from the moment you wake up until when the exam has finished. How do you feel? What do you put on to wear? What do you eat for breakfast? How do you feel when you enter the exam room? What emotions do you feel once it's over? Try when doing this to remain calm, peaceful and positive throughout.
Affirmations are positive and uplifting statements that we say to ourselves. These are normally more effective if said out loud so that you can hear yourself say it. We tend to believe whatever we tell ourselves constantly and so it’s important to think positively and minimise our negative thoughts in order to feel confident. If you are constantly telling yourself "I can't do this", "it's too hard for me", or "I'm not good enough", there's a high chance you won't feel very confident about your abilities. Here are some positive affirmations you can say to yourself on a daily basis and before your exam:
I have all the qualities I need to be successful
I feel fit, healthy and full of energy
I am well prepared for this exam and I will give my best
I will be able to pass my exams with good grades
My English is clear and fluent
I've got this!!
3. Take Care of Your Body
Healthy body, healthy mind! It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re not looking after yourself physically. Not sleeping enough, eating an unhealthy diet or a lack of exercise will reduce your energy and focus. Studies consistently show physical activity boosts confidence. So stay active and create time to take care of yourself. Here are some simple tips:
Eat a healthy diet; lots of fruits, nuts, water and vegetables. Keep sugary snacks, fast food and soda to a minimum.
Get moving. This could be a walk, a gentle jog, some press-ups at home or a visit to the gym.
Get the right amount of sleep that your body needs. Generally speaking this should be between 7 - 9 hours.
4. Have a Greater Goal
Don't let the stress of school and tests trick you into thinking that your exam is the most important thing in the world and that if you fail, you'll be forever doomed. See your exam as a necessary stepping stone on your path towards achieving your goals or dream. You want to become a doctor? You'll have to do your medical exams first. Drive a car? Yep, you guessed it, you'll have to do a driving test. But it's not the tests that are the most important thing. It's what they allow us to do once we've completed them. So what's your greater goal? What's your dream? And how does taking this exam help you move closer towards it? Instead of seeing an exam as an obstacle, be grateful for using it as a hurdle to jump to your next step.
Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail. Good preparation is essential in order to succeed in any exam. From preparation, comes confidence.
6. Silence Your Inner-Critic
Instead of focusing on the things you can't do, focus on all of the things you can. Think about the positives, the things you've learnt and the areas where you've improved. Never forget what you've achieved and how far you've come from not being able to speak English at all. You've already succeeded in so many areas! At some point, the time to prepare any more will be over and this is when you really have to manage your weaknesses and focus on your strengths.
7. Don't Forget to Do the Things that Make You Happy
What do you love to do in your spare time? Is it to get outside, play sports or hit the gym? Maybe it’s meeting with friends or just staying in and reading a good book? Whatever it is you love, create space for it, because life is short - you need time to enrich your life and to recharge in order to be your best self and perform at you highest. Remember, it's just an exam.