5 EXAM TIME MANAGEMENT
Be Mindful is an 8-week proposal to help students cope with test anxiety.
Being an insecure candidate at examinations when I was a student myself, I can strongly relate to all those students who do have a hard time when sitting exams. Here are some tips that I have ensembled to release those uncomfortable tensions that may prevent us from having the best outcome possible.
I have always recommended students to record their monologues and dialogues regularly to gain practice for the final speaking tests, by acting as «their own examiners». Amongst the benefits are: (1) growing more aware of how much time you actually have to devote to the items you would like to present the examiners on the topic you have been given; and (2) finding out what can get improved after you have watched your video recording several times, namely (a) is the speech clear, (b) did you make yourself understood, (c) were the ideas introduced and developed in an organised manner, (d) was it a dull and empty monologue or interesting and exciting on the contrary, (e) was the language appropriate for the level certificate you would like to achieve or can you use more accurate grammar structures and expressions, (f) was the task interactive and well balanced in the case of dialogues, for instance.
TEDx talks are fantastic resources to model public speeches.
The criteria your examiners will be checking during your performance can be found here (Tablas de evaluación) and the suggestion is that you become your own examiner at times during the academic year or work with your classmate on a regular basis to exchange feedback.
observation brings awareness
So after you have practiced, practiced, practiced throughout the academic year, try to get to the examination room today as naturally calm as posible. Maybe this Safe place practice can help before you walk into the room, and simply try to forget about everything around you at this moment and focus on yourself (who have practiced a lot in advance) sitting there, getting your tasks prepared comfortably and confidently. Remember you will be allowed fifteen minutes to prepare both your speaking tasks and will need three to four minutes to deliver your monologue, then five minutes to discuss your dialogue topic with your partner (seven minutes if small group of three).
Improved attention is one of the benefits of our long standing attention regulation practices so our concentration skills in preparation for this test today are high. Also we are opening spaces for Emotions here so the recommendation is for you to embrace an emotion when it comes, seek help if you feel the need to ask for something to the examiner (maybe sitting by a window to breath some fresh air, or drink a little water) and Normalize it. Take your time to come back to the line of speech in case of an uncomfortable blank as we learned in our emotion regulation practices.
As you may have checked, the timings for the PEC exams (Guía del candidato – page eight) are strict in an attempt to give all candidates in Andalucía the same opportunities. I will not take much of your time on useful tips to complete your reading comprehension tasks except for a reminder of your focus and concentration skills acquired throughout befriending silence practices. Remember to read the questions first as this is not a reading for pleasure exercise, we are actually scanning this text looking for answers to follow up questions. Skimming all Reading Comprehension paper exams first to decide where to start could be a good technique (perhaps it works well for you to complete the most difficult exercise first).
Do not forget to breathe!
The same applies to your Listening Comprehension test: skim the questions first, underline seemingly key words, take notes during first listening, which might be connected to the answers, answer questions during second listening and finally complete the test before handing in. My long experience with students during Listening Comprehension tests is that they tend to tick the correct answer (A,B,C or D) the first time, however, too many times they change their minds before handing in. In high percentage this last minute change happens to be ruinously inappropriate so my advice is to go with your gut feeling as most of the times that first choice is correct. Mindfulness practitioners will be aware of this third brain connectivity in decision making.
Do not forget to breathe!
As for your written production test, (a) read the tasks carefully and take notes, (b) write a first draft to begin with (breaking your ideas into paragraphs, using the correct format and cohesive devices to keep your writing organised), (c) be mindful of time including in your planning to allow yourself a few minutes for a final fair copy to get written (the examiners will certainly appreciate nicely presented written tasks), (d) use your cognitive flexibility skills acquired through previous mindfulness practices to be creative when you write, (e) eventually, adjust the number of words wisely. You may like to have a look at these recommendations that can be suited to your PEC tasks.
I encourage you to go back to your «safe place» if you need so during short pauses, as leaving the room is not permitted unless exceptional circumstances are given. Our regular practice will have built up your patience as it is one of the multiple benefits of Mindfulness. You can create a silent space in which to find the natural regulation of emotions and Stay Calm. Be mindful. The result will be f-e-n-o-m-e-n-a-l.
Useful tips on how to manage our time in every day life here