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Test taking – learning from elite athletes’ success

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This article was written by Jools B.

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Over the years, I’ve helped to prepare hundreds of students to pass the IELTS test and other school and university exams.

There is a lot of very useful information available about test strategies and so I won’t repeat that information here. However, what I’d like to share with you is how you can prepare psychologically for the test.

A key part of preparation is what we are thinking, feeling and saying before we take the test and so we need to be aware of these areas and make sure they are helping and not hindering us. Note that I haven’t just said ‘Think positive!’ While thinking is a part of this preparation, all the senses play a vital role.

Research has found that visual rehearsal can improve performance in sports so many elite athletes not only do physical training in their sport before a sports event, but they also now undergo training in how they feel and think about their performance. So for example, a tennis player can train by visualising the ball going over the net and feeling the joy of scoring a winning hit. They can feel what it’s like to win Wimbledon,and use all their senses to create the picture of the experience, such as the crowd applauding. Many others are now using this technique to help them fulfil their potential in life.

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The same applies to taking a test or exam. Start to imagine yourself in the test room. Feel/imagine yourself answering all the questions perfectly. If your mind comes in and says ‘You’re no good’, go back to the feeling of excitement that you can answer all the questions. You can also visualise yourself seeing your results. If you find it difficult to see pictures, just go with the feeling. Feel what it’s like to have that excitement that you have passed. You can go further than this, feeling and seeing what it’s like to be in the university or school you are taking the test for and feeling the excitement of that too and imagining all the things you are going to do when you get there.

There are no limits to what this technique can be used for. It is a precious tool for education and beyond, the value of which cannot be underestimated. The key is to make it part of your life and to FEEL and not just THINK positive. If you combine this skill with test taking strategies and learning your content, then the sky’s the limit in whatever you’d like to achieve!

Contact Jools B for more information.