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Many of us struggle under pressure or the intensity of exam conditions, and can perform a lot worse than we should, given how much we actually know about the topic in question.

Keep positive

The great Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right”, and it’s a sentiment that many successful people live by. Believing in yourself, and having faith in your ability to do something, can often be the tipping point between success and failure. When it comes to exams, having that positive mindset before you go into the room will help you feel at ease and more able to approach questions productively.

Show up to show off

Many people think that exams are there to highlight how much you don’t know, and that examiners keenly look out for mistakes. While errors should of course be avoided, think instead of the exam as a chance to show off how much you do know, because chances are you do know a lot, and more than you think you know. Keep an eye open for pitfalls, but otherwise use the exam to demonstrate just how good you are.

Last-minute revision?

Some people think that maximising every second of available time for “cramming” will mean they’ll know more come exam time. Not necessarily true. Many of us are better off drawing a line at a reasonable time, and instead focussing on having a bath, getting a good night’s sleep and then having a healthy breakfast. Keeping yourself relaxed means you’re more likely to remember the things you have revised, rather than it all forming a massive jumble in your head just a few hours before your exam.

Distract yourself with mental tricks

If you’ve faced failure before, or you’re stuck on an area that you just can’t get out of your head, it can seem impossible to break past it by simply moving on to the next task on the list: whatever difficulty you faced before keeps coming back to haunt you. So try thinking out of the box. Focus your mind on re-arranging your stationery for 10 minutes, see how many ice cubes you can stack on top of each other or count all of your pairs of shoes. Doing something that takes your head away from those negative thoughts will then free up room for your next task. Don’t force it, let it come naturally.

Get support from friends and family

Putting yourself through the pressure of an exam is bad enough, but doing it alone can seem like a nightmare. Let those closest to you know what your timetable is like, when not to disturb you, and when you might need a quick pick-me-up. They say that a problem shared is a problem halved, so if your loved ones can help relieve even a little bit of that pressure, you’ll feel much more relaxed come the big day.