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Mindset before the last attempt of an exam in graduate school

  1. Mar 22, 2014 #1
    Its my 3rd try at an exam in graduate school. I failed it the 3rd time and now have a last attempt remaining,but this attempt would be a one-on-one viva exam session(oral exam). I don't want to justify how hard I worked because the end result is that I failed. What I would like to ask is about the mindset before the exam. I have 2 recurring thoughts when I pour through my book:

    1. I succeed in the exam no matter what. There is no question of failure. (I visualize myself answering every question in the exam and coming out happy).

    2. It doesn't matter if I fail or pass,because I have passed every other subject in my graduate course and have gained enough knowledge to start something on my own. (I visualize myself having not succeeded and hard at work on a new project).

    Which mindset is better? The 1. that I pass or the 2. that the result doesn't matter?

    Some background:

    I took a break from college for 1 year and took-up a job in a mechanic shop just to help me visualize the stuff I had in my text book. So,my prep was great. Its just that I panicked after the 1st question. We have a 2 hour exam to evaluate the entire semester preparation,no midsemesters,no assignments in between the semester. That's the system here and it seems to work as the kids who graduate come-out eventually are on top. The Uni is no.35 in the world.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2014 #2
    With pressure this big and years of work at stake,its hard to concentrate on the present.
  4. Mar 23, 2014 #3


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    I think the answer varies from person to person.

    I know with athletes they say that you're supposed to visualize yourself winning - not just standing on the podium, but going through the actions necessary to win.

    With exams, in my experience what helps is to try to put yourself mentally into the exam as much as possible before hand. Go into the exam room and study there if you can. Try to come up with challenges for yourself - and tackle them.

    Avoid statements (even mental ones) like "failure is not an option." This is like saying "don't think of a pink elephant." The images of failure or pink elephants come up anyway and your stress levels increase. Instead, use positive language.
    - I will be calm and confident.
    - I will remember what I've studied.
    - The correct answers are attainable.
    - I can work through challenges to figure the answers out, just like I have a thousand times before.

    Other than that, really the trick is to put the time into preparing.
  5. Mar 24, 2014 #4
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