by Edleen Guanko
It’s quite normal to be nervous before an exam, and even after the exam, while waiting for the results. Anyone who ever went to school must have experienced this at some point. I’m sure you would all agree that board exams, such as the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET), cause more anxiety than any exam we ever took in college.
A little anxiety is good, because it means you care about the results of the exam. If you care, it means you will work hard to get good results. Too much anxiety, however, will cripple you mentally by making you unable to concentrate, have mental blocks, and maybe even chicken out of the exam. You have to be conscious of your anxiety level, how it is affecting you, and what steps you can take to manage it.
Here are some suggestions to help you combat LET-induced anxiety.
PREPARE. One of the biggest causes of anxiety is being unprepared for the exam. Don’t rely on stock knowledge, no matter how smart you think you are. The soldier who goes to war unprepared will most certainly end up dead. So load up on knowledge, get as much review material as you can and study them. Organize your schedule and set aside time each day for review. This will help you conquer that seemingly insurmountable mountain of readings, and eliminate the anxiety caused by cramming.
BELONG. Another cause of anxiety is the feeling that you’re alone in this endeavor and you have no one to go to for advice or help in studying. So acquaint yourself with other people taking the exam. This is easy if you’ve enrolled in a review center, where you will not only have fellow examinees but also coaches who can help you achieve your goal. Belonging to a group is important for exchanging ideas and asking questions, but the most important thing is the encouragement you give to one another.
ASK. Filipinos often worry about looking dumb if they ask questions, even if it’s as mundane as asking for directions. A difficult topic or problem also causes anxiety, especially if you are one of those who do not like to ask questions. But remember this:not asking questions only result in ignorance. So if there’s a topic that you don’t understand, never hesitate to ask your mentors or classmates for clarification. Chances are there are others in your group who will benefit from that clarification.
BREATHE. Discover what things or activities calm you and do these when things get a little too much. When you feel like you can’t absorb any more information, or you find yourself unable to concentrate, take a break and breathe. Taking some quiet time to let your mind breathe can reinvigorate you not just mentally, but also physically. Relaxation techniques can be as simple as taking a leisurely walk, listening to some soothing music, taking a hot bath, lighting scented candles, or just sitting quietly and taking deep breaths. The key is finding out what works for you and knowing when to use it.
UNDERSTAND. The LET is a very important exam, as one’s teaching career may well depend on its outcome. This, of course, is a source of worry for teachers and would-be teachers. For some, failing the exam is synonymous to the end of the world. The LET, as important as it is, is just an exam. It is good to acknowledge the exam’s importance and do your very best to pass it, but understand that failing does not make you a lesser teacher, or a lesser human being. Do not beat yourself up if you don’t do well. As long as you do your best, you can hold your head high and try again next time.
Edleen Guanko is Top 11 of the September 2010 Licensure Examination for Teachers. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines B.S. Education, major in Special Education. She took intensive coaching for the LET at MindGym Philippines.