Hi Everyone, my name is Linda Bonnar and I’m an Irish qualified History Teacher and Life Coach. A few years ago I also made the decision to train as a Life Coach as I found that while I loved helping young people achieve their academic goals, I also wanted to be able to help students, and people in general, overcome anxieties and develop self- confidence to enable them to be more successful in their day-to-day lives. The posts I am going to post here are designed to provide you with a toolbox as such, to enable you to overcome any stresses or anxieties you might currently be experiencing during exam season. I’ve practiced these on my own students, don’t worry, and these are skills that I encourage all to practice on a daily basis and they work! I hope you enjoy the posts and please don’t hesitate to leave a comment with any of your thoughts or requests for further posts.

I started doing some Stress Management workshops with my form group this year as some of their most common phrases were, “I’m so stressed, Miss” and, “I just don’t have enough time to do all of this” As a teacher, I fully understand that at this point in time, it probably feels like your subject teachers are all pulling you in different directions to study, attend revision sessions, complete past papers etc, but remember this is- because we care and we want you to do the very best that you can!(there is method in our madness!) Exam time is stressful, we get that, and while some of us thrive on that pressure, it’s not all of us. So, instead of allowing this time to control you, you make sure that you control it. My mantra throughout these posts, and I encourage you to make it your own is- CONTROLTHE CONTROLLABLE. Let’s take a closer look at this to help you begin to eradicate current stresses from your life right now!

How would it be if you could control ALL aspects of your Exams? Amazing, right? Of course it would! However, can you control what the examiners put on the paper? NO! Can you control the person who is marking your paper and hope they know what you are “trying to say”? NO! Can you control any aspect of the Department of Examinations? NO! Firstly, realize that there are many aspects of your Examinations that you cannot control so worrying about these aspects is only going to allow unnecessary stress to develop in you. Stress is generally not a very helpful or healthy feeling, unless you are one of those people who are spurred on by it because it makes you get things done. We also generally don’t like things that we cannot control either, therefore, instead of focusing on things that we cannot control, let’s recognize the abundance of factors that we CAN CONTROL to help us do the best we can in our Exams:

You Can Be In Control

  1. You CAN CONTROL the amount of revision you do- yes, we all have other tasks to do other than have our heads stuck in books AND we all have a certain amount of choices in the time we allocate to studying too. Ask yourself could your time be better spent making flash cards than on social media?
  2. You CAN CONTROL the amount of sleep you get too- you may hear your friends or peers talking about pulling all-nighters before an exam because it works for them, but if you have a full week of exams how conducive to your performance will this actually be?
  3. You CAN CONTROL your diet during Exams- YOU are the person who chooses how YOU fuel YOUR body. In essence, during Exam time, you are a mental athlete and like any athlete you need to fuel your body well. The research and science proves it- your brain needs carbs.
  4. You CAN CONTROL the amount of exercise you get- some of you will be reading this thinking, “I don’t have time to exercise, is she mad”?! Exercise is something I encourage you to make time for. It releases all those endorphins, easing any tension and anxiety you could be feeling. It will also help you sleep better too. It doesn’t have to be a 10 mile run, anything! I’m a runner and one of the things I love about running is that it helps clear your mind; Runner’s World magazine states that even just the forward motion of running helps you to plan ahead and even devise solutions to current problems affecting you.
  5. You CAN CONTROL your thoughts about Exams- this is paramount to your success. Be positive. I said to my Year 11s who sat their first History paper yesterday- don’t call it an Exam! Let’s look at this as an opportunity for you to show off your wealth of knowledge and answering technique to the person marking your paper. (I’m happy to post more about the benefits of controlling your thoughts in a few days)
  6. You CAN CONTROL how you structure your answer- Answering technique is something that each and every single one of you could probably write a book on right now!! Here’s the bottom line; Examiners want to be able to give you the marks and you have to help them do that. Having previously worked as an Examiner, we love students who give us everything the question demands all laid out on a silver platter. Remember the mark schemes that your teachers have worked through with you, know where the marks are awarded and how they are broken down and ANSWER THE QUESTION!
  7. You CAN CONTROL how you view yourself- don’t compare yourself to anyone else; yes, we’ve all been there where there is one person in your class who is studying 24-7 and you know what, if they are happy doing, good for them. Wish them luck. Don’t beat yourself up because that’s not what you are doing. Don’t beat yourself up because your mock result wasn’t as good as your best friend’s result. Be proud of what you have achieved so far and don’t worry about what others are doing.
  8. You CAN CONTROL the expectations you put on yourself- aim for Excellence and not Perfection. Do you best with the resources that you have and the time that you have available to you. Aiming for perfection is irrational; so aim for excellence, ask yourself, Am I doing my best? And BE REALISTIC!
  9. You CAN CONTROL your environment- if all this talk of Exams, Exams, Exams, is making you anxious, then take control and remove yourself from that situation; if your friends are having a chat about it then you can politely leave, you can start up a new conversation or you can be honest about how your feel about the situation.
  10. You CAN CONTROL your actions- no one else is responsible for how you apply yourself during this time. Your teachers can only do so much, they are not at home with you to remind you to study, to take a break, to exercise or to eat! Nor is this your parent’s job! Be responsible for the choices that YOU make and the actions that YOU take.