Exam Preparation: Discussion Topic.
How does being prepared help when writing under pressure?
Pressure, naturally, removes our ability to think effectively or make rational decisions. Thus, preparation allows us to follow a somewhat pre-established guide on answering questions when we are not quite thinking properly. Say, preparing a basic exam structure before the exam means you won’t have to waste ~5 minutes trying to think of one – as simple as it is, simplicity is only a mindset and this mindset generally disappears in an exam setting. Knowing at least how to write an essay and only having to think about content for the prepared structure is easier than being completely lost in stress…
Which aspects are most important when preparing for timed-writing exams?
The most important aspect is the preparation of a rational mind… you know the exam is limited in time and you can’t do anything to change that; worrying about it won’t do any good. Enter the exam with the correct mindset and realise that worrying either means rushed answers or mental distraction (i.e. the comedic cliché of banging one’s head against the table out of stress). The more time you take stressing or overthinking means less time to do the test itself…
Thus, practice breathing techniques and/ or other concentration/ mind-relief techniques.
I don’t necessarily have any tips for actual educational aspects… but to me the healthy mental approach to a timed exam is important.
What advice would you give someone who’s preparing for high-pressure exams?
Cliché answer: “breath.”
Often overused, it is indeed a good suggestion. Walking into a high-pressure exam while hyperventilating and scruffling through notes seconds before is, well, not going to help. Prepare times within the test for each answer, select answers you know the answer to first and then move to the ones you don’t. Don’t spend five minutes thinking about the answer to one question… move on and come back. This might be a bit of a not-approved(?) suggestion but sometimes it even helps too, at the start of the test, don’t touch your writing material but rather set aside 5 minutes to just read through the test and breath… maybe circle some headings or questions you fancy and don’t fancy… breakdown the paper so that it is “mentally smaller” to you – I’m not sure how to explain this but hopefully I did > Rather spend 5 minutes just reading instead of 5 minutes panicking; use time productively.