You Have Been Conditioned

You will see your peers wallowing in exam-induced self-pity. They will exclaim their desire to fast-forward time to the moment just after their exams have finished, wishing away precious weeks of their lives. They believe that the prospect of exams precludes all possibility of any positive experience.

These are the same people who will go on to wish away the majority of their lives, “enduring” the working week in order to celebrate the weekend and perhaps a couple of holidays per year.

Does this seem like the optimal attitude for exam success? Does it seem like a good way to live?

You have been conditioned—in ways subtle and unsubtle. You have been conditioned to utterly dread exams. You have been conditioned to despise every minute of study. You may have even been conditioned to doubt your own abilities.

But why would anyone do this to you?

Most people do not achieve exam success. Without even realising it, they poison our culture with their negative experience. This teaches the next generation of students to hate exams before they even start. The bitter cycle repeats. You must break the cycle. Resist the temptation to share in other people's negativity. It won't help you.

Instead, look towards the students who achieve the highest success in exams. Their attitude is different. Almost without exception, they enjoy the experience. Like them, you should focus on the good things about the process. Even the bad things are often only bad because that's how you have chosen to see them.

For example, many students dislike the pressure the exam process places on them. Pressure is very likely to create problems if you don't handle it properly. But it also offers you a unique opportunity for self-improvement. It pushes you to achieve things you would never have otherwise done.

After all, we are designed by nature to perform our best work when we feel the discomfort of pressure. Work with it, not against it.

Society has been a bad influence on your attitude towards exams. But your attitude is still a choice. You can choose to complain about the experience or you can choose to use it to your advantage. You don’t need me to tell you which choice is more likely to lead to great exam scores.