I had prepared well I thought, whittled my notes down to ‘mind hooks’ and dutifully kept to my revision schedule; but I still suffered exam nerves. On the day I found things I wanted to recall eluded me – it was so annoying, particularly as they flooded back the moment I left the hall – a good example of how stressful situations affect our mind.
I now feel great empathy with children in exams, particularly those I knew had the skills and knowledge but who simply ‘froze’ as soon as the word test was mentioned. As I wandered about the class I would occasionally whisper to a struggling child to look again at an obvious error. For some who had self esteem and confidence issues I would help them get going on the first question by reminding them of a strategy used in class, ‘oh yeah’ would be muttered and off they’d go.
Most parents are supportive, some have unrealistic expectations, schools and teachers add to the stress as results impact directly on league tables and teachers pay. Students perceive the tension in the class which feeds their anxiety. The Young Minds website provides some excellent advice with further links to guide parents on how they can help.
Some parents pay for additional tutoring to give that extra push. Wouldn’t it therefore be just as useful to coach a student to be calm, clear headed and relaxed, to allow the subconscious to work with the student to recall key facts, information and aid concentration levels.