and the A levels see most students engaged in intense, feverish
levels of preparations.
I have encountered students who were consistent performers
during the entire academic year, but fumbled and "drowned"
during major examinations. They knew their stuff well, were
armed to the teeth, but on the actual day of the examination,
their minds simply drew a complete blank-its as if all their
revision efforts have magically evaporated and they were left
with nothing viable to put to the answer scripts.
In light of this, I thought I did present a little piece on
exam psychology, and the methods I utilised to aid these
students in alleviating their fears and concerns when tackling
1. Before the exam:
Well, you want that A, but don't get obsessed with that
thought. Tell yourself you are going to get in there, and
simply complete the paper to the best of your ability.
2. Checking of number of pages prior to commencement of paper:
Just run through the pages. Do not be disturbed by complex
looking figures/diagrams or lengthy paragraphs. Your state
of mind is very important at this stage. Count and verify the
number of pages, and just CLOSE the booklet.
3. Beginning of the exam:
I am talking about the time taken from the instance when the
clock starts ticking till when you complete the first question.
A. For maths, its a 3 hour paper per sitting. Take 2.5 hours
=150 minutes divided by the number of questions-that gives
you the amount of time to complete each question. (You have
at least 30 minutes for checking) Do not let that small time
deadline per question frighten you.Be cool.
B. Now, here comes the critical part. Your first question.My
recommendation is as follows: Spend about 3-5 minutes seriously
scanning the entire paper to locate one question you are confident
of completing properly. Thats right, you don't have to solve your
questions in sequential order,but you must compile your final
answer scripts in numerical succession. This is the only question
you can afford to purposely exceed the stipulated timing deadline,
but you shouldn't take your our own sweet time.During all this
while, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT get stressed over time
being supposedly "wasted" in conquering your first question.
Bottom line is this: YOU MUST FEEL GOOD AFTER SOLVING Q1.
4. If all goes well after step number 3,your confidence levels
should start to climb. Now its not yet over. The second question
also matters.Source once more for another question you can take
delight in solving, and do it well. Technically, the time taken
should start to normalise and ease nicely into the timing deadline
per question. Once two questions are in your pocket,your mood
will start to shine. In fact, feedback from students seem to point
to the fact that their pace accelerates enormously after this and
they can cruise along effortlessly.
5. Needless to say, continue this till the entire paper is done,
paying heed to the clock at regular intervals. DO NOT panic if
you exceed the time limit for certain questions-completing them
properly takes precedence over rushing through them to
pounce onto the next one. Bear in mind you still have a 30
minute buffer which you can exhaust(but that is only if you
have no choice)
6.The key word is FOCUS.FOCUS on the current question you
are doing,do not get distracted by mulling over previous
partially attempted questions, or worry about subsequent ones.
The above prescribed steps have been effective in pulling
some of my students out of their dark psychological trenches,
and hopefully they would serve as a useful reference for you.
Do note that they are merely guidelines-you still need to
exercise your own judgment and sensibility when in the actual
Tactics, however colorful or fanciful, are still just tactics.
Its good old fashioned hard work and practice that matters most
at the end of the day.So study hard kids, and all the best for
your prelims and As.