When you go in on the day of your exam, what you've been exposed to affects your subconscious, which affects how you perform on that test! If it's implied you won't perform well, chances are, you won't. And if you feel a lack of confidence going into the exam, that might be reflected in your score.
Test anxiety and low confidence going into the exam is thought to affect test performance. People with lower levels of test anxiety do better of multiple choice questions, and, of course, people with higher testing anxiety do worse. People in minority groups also tend to have more test anxiety and lower confidence going into their exams. For example, females tend to have more anxiety about exams than males.
We've come up with 6 things that you can control and that can help you think positively leading up to your exam.
Remind Yourself of All Work You've Already Put In
Chances are, leading up to your board exam you've done much to prepare. Remind yourself of all the late night study sessions and Q&As you aced! In the words of N. Kevin Krane, MD, MedStudy Contributor, "Remind yourself how well prepared you are when you wake up and don’t look at any study materials. It’s all about confidence at this point and you should keep reminding yourself that as you walk into the exam."
One way to work on positive self talk is to try and identify if and when you self-sabotage and replace that with positive self affirmations! If you find yourself thinking things like "I know I'm going to fail," instead try to say things to bring yourself up, like "I've prepared for this and know I can do it!"
Question your negative thoughts. Ask yourself:"Why do I feel this way?"
"Why am I thinking like this?"
If you can try to get to the why of what you're feeling, you can challenge those negative thoughts.
Stay Focused and Be Present
Stay focused in the present, using your 5 senses to address what you’re seeing, feeling, smelling, touching, and hearing. When your mind wanders (and it will!), focus on returning back to the present moment.
"Relax and focus, think positive." - Maridine Co, MD
Set a Reminder for Positive Self Talk
Set some time aside the morning of your exam for positive self talk. Here's some examples of things to tell yourself.
- I WILL do well on the exam.
- I've prepared for this. I am ready!
- Crush it today!
When that reminder you’ve made for yourself pops up, give yourself permission to take a second for some positive self talk and breathing! Hopefully this will bring a smile to your face and give you a boost.
Draw Motivation From Your Loved Ones
Maybe you feel weird about pumping yourself up? Well, in that case, ask a close friend, mentor, spouse, or parent to send you a text or call you the day-of and give you motivation to do your best!
One of our contributing doctors, Mark R. Corkins, MD says that before you go in to your exam you should "Call someone you love and trust that will make you smile. That way you will remember they’ll love you no matter what your score on the exam is. Smile, relax, and go take it."
Reflect on Everything You've Accomplished So Far
Think about the 3 accomplishments you are most proud of. Maybe these are the things you bold on your resume or what you always bring up in interviews. Repeat these to yourself. Thinking about what an accomplished person and doctor you already are will certainly help you to go into the exam with confidence.
For more tips on how to walk into exam day with confidence to battle those negative thoughts, check out these bits of advice from our contributing physicians. Keep your head up, you've got this!