Mental Preparation for Civil Examination
Even though you have spent the last several months preparing for the exam, you are probably feeling slightly anxious about the Preliminary Examination. In addition to developing an approach to each section of the exam, you need to be mentally prepared for the challenges presented by the Preliminary Examination. Most test-takers feel some anxiety, and the most prepared are those who have worked hard and learnt to manage that anxiety. Having the plan to manage stress is essential to achieving your optimal score.
If you encounter a situation expecting to be successful you are much more likely to be successful than if you expect to fail. Consider the following two statements by two different students:
(1) I’m never going to get this. If I don’t score well on the Preliminary Examination I will be a failure.
(2) I am well prepared and deserve to do my best. I know what to expect and I am ready to succeed.
It should not take too much to figure out which student is going to do better. Whether it is looking in a mirror and saying affirming statements or writing a positive thought on your rough paper on test day, it is very important to go into the actual exam expecting to be successful. If you expect to fail why would you be at the test in the first place? This can be a difficult exercise at first, but you must get yourself in a frame of mind to succeed. When you dwell on negative thoughts, your mind is not free to work on the test. Trust that you are well prepared. If you’ve attended all the classes and done the hard work, you are better prepared than most of the population. Have confidence that you are going to be great!
Also, do not place excessive importance on the exam; keep the Preliminary Examination in perspective. Remember that the Preliminary Examination does not measure your intelligence, potential or what you are worth. A Preliminary Examination score only reflects how well you performed on the test on a given day, the day of the exam. This is not the day that determines the rest of your life. If the test does not go as well as planned, you can probably take it later. Keep this at the back of your mind, but we are definitely not recommending it.
Know the Test:
When you take a test such as the Preliminary Examination, you have a lot of work to complete in a limited amount of time. Mastering the huge quantum of the syllabus, by its very design, makes the Preliminary Examination a stressful experience.
However, you have worked hard and learned how the Preliminary Examination works, and you know what to expect. Keep in mind:
• An easy question appears on the test—handle the easy question with extreme caution. Most of the aspirants, good, bad or ugly, will get an easy question right. Even you will get it right, but on an easy question, there is a chance of making a silly mistake. So, if a question seems easy to you, double check on the answer, before you finalize and choose the answer.
• A hard question on die test is a good sign, not a bad one. A bulk of students would not have prepared properly for the exam and such students will not be able to handle a difficult question. Remember that you have to “earn” the hard questions on this test. The hard questions are the differentiating factor. They separate the grains from the chaff. By getting difficult questions right, you ensure your selection to the next stage.
• If a question looks really strange or too difficult for you, take a breath and remain calm. Try to figure out what it is testing, and apply the appropriate technique. If you are absolutely stumped, just move on. Maintain the pacing and approach you have learned from your practice tests. Do not let a horrible question shake your confidence.
• Your selection does not depend on attempting more questions, but on getting more questions right. The sword of Negative Marking also hangs over your head.
Imagine yourself in the examination room on test day. Get a good picture in your mind. In the picture you created in your mind, do you see yourself in the test room or do you see the situation through your eyes as if you were actually in the test room? Getting comfortable seeing the situation through your own eyes helps manage potential test anxiety. You are not scared; you are excited. This is the day that you have been training for over the last several months. You have prepared well. You cannot wait to get started. After the administrative rigmarole, you sit down in front of the test paper. You feel a rush of adrenalin as you begin to scan the questions. You take a few deep breaths and execute the strategy that you have been planning for the few weeks leading up to today. Some of the questions are hard, but you expected that.
There are two important keys to visualisation: See yourself succeeding and imagine yourself overcoming every type of obstacle. You are unstoppable. You have prepared hard to be successful and you deserve to be successful.
Control the Physiological Responses to Anxiety: It is normal to feel a little nervous on the day of a big event. Your breathing gets shallow, and you may even feel a little sick in your stomach. Something that you can do that will ameliorate these symptoms is deep breathing. Close your eyes and imagine that your torso is an empty cylinder. Take a deep breath, filing the cylinder. Slowly release all the air from the top of the cylinder to the bottom. You will feel yourself start to relax within the first few breaths. Your breathing should be deep and regular. This exercise will generally take about half a minute. It is time well spent because folks who are highly stressed are not going to give their best performance. Once you have given your brain that little extra oxygen and got yourself focused back on the task at hand rather than on your stress, get back to the test and start cracking the questions.