Rosie Perrett is officially halfway through her veterinary degree and to celebrate she and her boyfriend spent a weekend in London. Here, she describes her pre-exam coping strategy.
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It's 2017 and, technically, only two-and-a-half years until I graduate; that means – fingers crossed – I'm halfway through. It's a terrifying thought, but one that actually feels achievable. I wouldn't say the end is in sight, but I certainly feel as though I've hit a landmark in my journey.
The January exams were okay; some up, some down, which seems to be everyone's response to describing exams these days.
Exams aren't a positive experience for me; I find myself getting particularly anxious. To help myself cope, I've come up with my own little routine to help to keep the nerves and stress at bay. Here's a generic example of the things I do in the 24 hours before an exam.
The night before I have a cup of decaffeinated tea (tea fixes everything) plus four drops of Rescue Remedy. I don't generally believe in ‘flowers’ as healers, but just by the action of putting it in my tea, I have a greater sense of calm – even if it is a form of the placebo effect, it helps right?
I also watch a bit of comedy before I go to sleep, I don't think there's anything better than laughing to take your mind off the impending exams.
The morning of the exam, I normally have a bowl of porridge with blueberries (because they're good for the brain) and then I give myself a quick ‘You can do it!’ pep talk in the mirror. I'm sure science will back me up in that the more you tell yourself something, the more likely you are to believe it; it gives me a giggle anyway. I also make sure I have a hair band around my wrist; I use it like a worry bracelet and playing with it keeps my hands occupied.
This year, once I reached the exam room, the butterflies were in full flight. Historically, the first paper I take in January has a nasty habit of attracting the worst mark, so that thought didn't get me off to the greatest start. Anyway, I opened the paper and my heart rate increased as the first question was on a portion of the course I hadn't dedicated much revision to. By now, mild panic was running through me . . . what if the rest of the paper was the same? It would look like I hadn't put any effort into revising. However, the second question was better and the third question was great. So I started with the third question and worked backwards and within 15 minutes, I'd settled into the exam rhythm, my heart rate had normalised and the shaking had stopped. Within an hour it was all over and I walked out grateful that it hadn't been worse.⇓
I go through the same preparatory process before every exam, like clockwork. The small things can make such a difference to the way I approach exams. People may knock the Rescue Remedy or the hair band, but so far the little things are working for me.