Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
When it comes to important exams, it’s difficult to stay indifferent. Even if you’ve already passed many, it’s almost impossible to stay cool and avoid anxiety, stress, or panic.
However, there are some things you can do to lower your anxiety and help yourself. Of course, the first thing is to make sure that you’ve study enough because that will raise your confidence and allow for clearer thinking.
Also, make sure that you’ve had enough sleep and that you’ve drunk enough water because that can improve one’s focus.
However, that’s not the main topic of this post. In this article, we’ll show you how to navigate a difficult exam paper and how to get the most out of it.
Where to start?
At first, the exam paper may look imposing. Most people don’t know where should they start and that’s why we recommend that you do a quick scanning first. Just read the questions and answers quickly, without wasting too much time on details.
There will be time to focus on them later on, in the following phase.
If you find any easy questions, you can answer these right away. Many people find this tip helpful because once they get a few right, they start feeling much more confident.
And that confidence allows you to tap into more resources and things that you thought you didn’t know.
As you can see, sometimes the exam isn’t only about your knowledge but also about your mental attitude. It’s important to prepare in both ways.
But what if you feel like something is blocking you and you don’t know how to start? There is an extremely helpful technique called “Memory Dumping”.
It’s very useful in those situations when you have to memorize a lot of things and you’re not sure where should you start.
Here is what you have to do. Take a deep breath and then take a sheet of paper – not the exam paper though. Use the paper to clear your mind and write down key concepts or formulas that you’re worried you might forget.
This process will mentally prepare you to go through the paper and it will give you more clarity.
This simple exercise usually provides great relief, because you no longer have to keep these concepts in mind – they’re now on your paper and you can review them in case you need them later.
This leaves you more room to focus on other things and tap into your full potential.
Taking time to re-read
We know that the paper may seem very difficult, but sometimes it’s not about the tasks and questions themselves. It’s about the way they are written. If directions aren’t clear enough, you may not understand what you’re supposed to do.
But remember, sometimes directions are misleading on purpose, and you have to take your time to figure them out. Make sure to read the directions multiple times, until you’re completely sure you understand them.
If you’re anxious or stressed, it’s normal that you may not see some things the first time around. There’s nothing wrong with it, just don’t forget to read them again and you may be surprised that they seem much more logical this time.
Create an outline
Generally speaking, make sure not to start right away. It’s essential to create an outline first; to organize your thoughts and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Some people consider creating an outline is a waste of time as they think they won’t have time for everything. However, a good outline actually saves you time because you’ll spend less time wondering what is to be done.
It’s simply easier to focus when you know that you’ve logically listed the key pointers.
Managing the starting time
One of the most important things is time management. It’s essential to try doing practice questions at home to see how much is needed for a particular topic.
Everyone’s pace is different and there’s no universal advice when it comes to organizing your time. That’s why it’s important to experiment before and see what works for you.
A common mistake that you should avoid is spending too much time on a question that you don’t know the answer to, or you simply can’t remember it.
If you spend too much time brainstorming about it, you may be leaving out others which you actually know.
It’s a much better idea to first do what you know you can do, after that go to parts that require more effort.
Managing the ending time
Don’t forget to leave some time (at least 10 minutes), to go through the paper at the end. Even though you may be sure you’ve done everything correctly, you may be surprised by the number of mistakes you see in the final phase.
That’s completely normal and that’s the reason why you should leave enough time for this phase. If you can’t remember something, it’s much better to make an educated guess, move on and focus on checking whether you’ve got everything else right.
And remember, there are no penalties for incorrect answers in the FRM examination, so don’t leave anything unanswered!
Establish breathing techniques
If you experience a mental block at any point, don’t panic. Take a few seconds to breathe. Taking a few deep breaths will calm you down and it will also help you to recall information.
Remember that those quick breaks don’t have to mean that you’re losing time, they may actually help you to improve your focus and boost your performance.
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