The secret to conquering exams

Well, that’s easy, revision, practice, repetition – you might say. Yes, these are key skills, but when it comes to taking an exam there is one thing more important, something essential for exam success: a positive mindset. Realistically, few pupils actively work to improve their mindset and go into the exam feeling nervous and doubtful of their own abilities. However, those that do make the smart decision to improve their mindset benefit from increased confidence and higher likelihood of success. 

Harnessing the power of thought

The power of positive thinking has been acknowledged for as long as we can remember and is summed up wonderfully in the famous saying: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. How can simply believing something make the difference between success and failure? Because once you make the decision to succeed, your language changes, your mindset shifts and your confidence soars; failure is no longer an option. 

Unfortunately, we are hardwired in pretty much the opposite way as a species. Our reaction to stress, commonly referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response, triggers feelings of doubt and anxiety in our minds. When this response takes over it can inhibit our ability to think or recall anything – you’ll be nodding in agreement if you’ve ever experienced a ‘mind blank’ during a stressful situation such as an exam or an interview. 

An interesting study by a team of psychologists at Goldsmiths University*, monitored the academic progress in a group of children aged seven to ten. They found that the children who achieved the best marks were the ones who rated their own ability highly, even though they displayed differences in ability and intelligence. Their self-belief and positive mindset were responsible for achieving higher marks in school than their peers. Like most children, those who weren’t achieving the highest marks likely had a mindset full of doubt, anxieties and blocks relating to their own abilities. These negative beliefs can hold children back and may even prevent them from learning altogether. 

How to improve your mindset

The good news is the world is not divided into those with a positive mindset and those without. Anyone can choose to improve their mindset and reap the benefits associated with it. One way to begin this process for children facing exams is to encourage them to add the word ‘yet’ to the end of a negative self-belief. ‘I can’t do this!’ becomes ‘I can’t do this yet’ or ‘I don’t understand this’ becomes ‘I don’t understand this yet’. Flipping self-talk in this way leaves the brain open to the possibility that they will, in time, master whatever it is they are struggling with.

Another fantastic tool to use when striving to improve your mindset is Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP comprises several strategies which endeavours individuals to seize control of their thoughts and mindset in a positive way – the result being they achieve more positive outcomes. NLP techniques are mostly used in business to help people build better relationships, develop leadership skills, and overcome negative thinking…but its potential in the classroom environment is astounding!

Using tools from NLP when teaching enhances children’s confidence, independent thinking, and academic progress. It provides the missing link between what children are taught and what they actually learn. NLP teaches children how to learn and even teaches teachers how to teach more effectively. As a result, students gain more confidence in their ability to learn and so perform better! At Flying Start Tuition, we have been implementing NLP into our lessons for over twelve years and have grown to call this the ‘learn smarter’ approach.

Techniques such as ‘anchoring’, ‘grounding’ and the ‘learning state’ can be used to help pupils deal with stress and improve their mindset. Such tools have been shown to give students more confidence in their ability, which means they are happier to learn and thereby achieve better results when it comes to exams such as the Eleven Plus, SATs or GCSEs. 

Game-changing techniques for exam success

During our time implementing NLP into our lessons, we’ve successfully helped thousands of children ace exams. We’ve even developed a bespoke programme of game-changing tools and techniques which we have embedded into our Eleven Plus courses – something we call the 11+ Superpowers toolkit.

However, we felt all pupils facing the Eleven Plus exams should have access to this incredible toolkit, so we created our 11+ Superpowers course. The 11+ Superpowers course is available for anyone to access instantly through a series of five video workshops that children and parents can work through together at home, in their own time. During these workshops, students will learn a series of powerful strategies that will help them build their own 11+ Superpowers toolkit.

Featuring effective NLP techniques, our 11+ Superpowers course will help students to combat self-doubt, conquer exam nerves and banish negative self-talk so that they feel focused, motivated and in the ultimate mindset to tackle their Eleven Plus with the most important skill of all: confidence!

Special offer for Chiltern Chatter readers: £50 off our 11+ Superpowers course!

Sign-up today and start helping your child improve their mindset, confidence, and self-belief ready to walk into that exam hall and ace the test! Follow this link to redeem the special offer: