How to Control Exam Nerves

Mindfulness seems to be the current trend. The more I look into this interesting area, the more I understand that it appears to involve focussing one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.

I did not know this until recently, but I have been using some of this ancient Buddhist practice for some time now – inadvertently – in a unique way in the education sector. I have developed and successfully delivered a practical workshop in schools, colleges and universities on the theme of how to control exam nerves, with some impressive results.

This time of year fills many young people with dread and not just because of the hay fever season! Examinations, or just the thought of them, strikes fear into very many young people (of any age) and yet there are practical steps and techniques they can take on how to focus away from their fear, or extreme nerves, and channel this negativity into adrenalin and a more positive way of thinking.

At a secondary school in Sheffield, I ran this session for a group of 25 GCSE students who, for two years running, had failed to achieve the requisite C grade or above in their Maths exam. I delivered the workshop a month or so before their exam. When the results were announced, 75% of students successfully achieved their C grade or above. The school and, more importantly, the students were delighted.

I will never know how much of the students’ success was due to my intervention. However, what I am convinced about is that an individual’s state of mindfulness; their emotions, feelings and thoughts – focused and harnessed in the right way – can and does make a real, significant and positive impact on their lives.