Dear KES Family:
A cluster of boys was waiting at the bottom of the stairs before their History exam. From the hushed huddle came a sudden exclamation: “The Treaty of Versailles!? What’s that?” As his friends quickly gave the world’s fastest and most succinct description of the famous peace treaty which ended hostilities between Germany and the allied powers after WWI, I had two quick thoughts. The first was that if I ever needed a perfectly described lesson of an historical event, Noah Szymanis (Grade 10) is the fellow I would choose. His description of the Treaty of Versailles was perfect! My second thought was that I am very happy NOT to be back in Grade 10 writing exams. (Hahaha!) The first set of exams I ever wrote was in Grade 10. Back then I was a jittery mess before every single one. It is a miracle that I passed any of them.
Everyone deals with stress differently. Some students will find a quiet corner and listen to music. Others will cram in isolation, feverishly going over cue cards and notes right to the last second. Some students will quiz each other anticipating questions that might be asked. Still others will congregate in happy social groups and talk about nothing in particular.
The trick is to find that sweet spot of emotional readiness. One has to be alert and ‘psyched up’ to perform at an optimum level, but if one is too anxious and stressed one will literally get ‘psyched out’ and performance will decrease. It is as true for academics as it is for athletes. The trick is to be confident and focused under pressure. Be it a free throw in basketball in front of a big crowd, or a three foot putt for birdie in golf, or serving for the match in tennis, we will choke if we let the pressure of the situation get to us.
Learning how to manage the stress of exams is as important as learning the material required. The sooner we figure out successful strategies for ourselves, the better we will be for all the demanding pressure situations we will face in life. Of course, knowing the material beforehand (like the Treaty of Versailles) will certainly help.
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