These wise words were uttered by the one and only Nelson Mandela. As a Year 12 student currently in the interim between the end of classes and the beginning of exams, I can certainly relate. I don’t think I would be alone in saying that studying – and the exam period in general – is starting to look a little impossible at the moment.
My school finished classes Thursday before last, Graduation was last Monday and now we are well and truly into study mode. Well, that’s the theory. So far my attempts at studying have been successful but sparse.
I don’t like to use the word ‘stress’. I am very much of the opinion that whether or not you experience ‘stress’ is largely within your own control. I also believe that everyone has their own take on what ‘stress’ encompasses. So in choosing not to use the word ‘stress’, I have eliminated the stigma that comes with it.
This does not mean to say that I don’t feel pressure. I’m only human. I do worry about my workload or my ability to succeed in one endeavour or another, but I don’t call this ‘stress’. It’s just a little bit of neccessary anxiety, and for the most part, it makes me perform better.
But it’s the way that different people deal with ‘stress’ that interests me. Some people go into ultra-hard-working mode. They lock themselves away and don’t surface until whatever it is they are worried about passes. Other people shut down, completely fall apart and end up cowering under their desk, hugging their knees, rocking back and forth and having hushed arguments with the voices in their heads. Others don’t even bat an eyelid.
Personally, I don’t know how it is I deal with pressure. In fact, the phrase “I don’t know” perfectly summarises how I feel when I experience this sensation we call ‘stress’. And my impending exams have really made this surface recently.
Am I prepared? I don’t know. I have done well all year, but for some reason with exams on the way I begin to doubt my knowledge and learning. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it, but something makes me feel that I could not possibly know everything I’m about to be tested on, even if all signs point to the contrary.
What should I work on? I don’t know. I find studying difficult sometimes, often because I just can’t decide what the most effective method of revision is. They are forever telling us at school about the ‘different types of learners’ are. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic etc etc etc, but I seem to be a strange combination of all of them. Should I make cue cards and test myself? Should I draw up posters? Should I arrange all the content to music and learn it by heart? This is the major reason I experience anything like ‘stress’. Simply because I have the time, but I don’t know where to invest it.
Why can’t I do as much work as other people? I don’t know. I am certainly a subscriber to the policy of ‘quality rather than quantity’, but sometimes I do feel intimidated by the fact that some of my classmates can ‘study’ for hours on end. I can not do this. I don’t know if it’s a limited attention span, lack of motivation or if I simply don’t need to work that much, but I can’t do it.
So here I am, four days out from my first exam. I have six to sit in total – five over the next Thursday, Friday and Monday and then one more on the 17th. These exams contribute a large proportion of my final grade for my subjects. What I write in these six two-hour periods could greatly influence what I am qualified to do next year and for the rest of my life. They are the culmination of six years of secondary schooling and thirteen years of schooling in total.
I certainly think they will seem impossible until they’re done. But how do I really feel about them at the moment? I don’t know.