For those of us teaching exam courses it’s that time of year when our students take their first practice tests and start working -hopefully- harder towards achieving their goals. It’s a tense period for everyone, primarily for our students who slowly realize that exams are not part of an imaginary world, but a reality, as well as for us, teachers, who need to help, encourage them and support them till the end. Exam preparation is a bumpy road, so I think we should be open to our students and speak the truth. Here are the 8 things we should remind them of about their exams (and life in general)
You can make it (and always will) if you work hard. We all are students in life, so I fell this is a good reminder of what we can accomplish if we’re committed to realizing our dreams and working hard. Miracles do happen, but behind every miracle there is a person who has spend hours/days/weeks fighting for this miracle.
Exam success is definitely not the end of your learning journey. Students need to realize that passing an exam and getting a certificate doesn’t mean that their language learning journey stops. Language is a living organism and it needs constant use and “exercise” – it’s more than a skill, it’s knowledge that everyone carries and needs until the end of their lives.
Studying non-stop for a month before your exams is pointless. We all have students who just put off studying until the very last minute. My dear students, you have to remember that language exams don’t test you on some grammar, some idioms/phrasal verbs etc – instead, you’re tested on your GENERAL KNOWLEDGE of the language. Studying for a month before your exams will only exhaust you, demotivate you and make you miss the point.
Study your exam score – it doesn’t define you, but it might help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. I think we all agree on the fact that exam scores don’t define our students’ knowledge of the language. Language skills can’t be measured or evaluated by one exam only and therefore shouldn’t be our sole criterion of assessment. Looking closely at the score though and “studying” it can help us learn more about ourselves – it can help reveal strong and weak points which don’t necessarily have to do with language. A low exam score might indicate stress issues, pressure or lack of concentration. Don’t focus on the score itself then, work on it and see how it can help you improve.
Everyone deserves a bad day. And this might be the day our kids take their mock tests, practice tests or the final exam. We are all “entitled” to having days when we simply can’t make it. All of us need to realize that and students should try to keep it in mind so that they don’t end up defining themselves only by what they accomplish on that day.
Don’t feed yourself with excuses – you can pull anything off! It’s so easy to find excuses for anything in life – and most of them have to do with our “lack of time”. We are all busy to fit in this extra thing that will make our lives (learning or not) better. Everyone can improve and succeed sooner or later in life – excuses only stand in our way.
I’ll be there for you no matter what – but I can’t study for you! My students know that I’m there for them 100%. To help them, encourage them and support them. But it’s our kids’ responsibility to actually assume responsibility for their off-school learning. We can help them work on their low points, but we can’t work for them. Homework can be inspiring and creative, but it’s still homework and students need to realize working is also part of the learning equation.
This is just ONE of the many exams we face everyday. Be strong! We are all assessed every day and we all go through periods of success and failure. To me, this is the most important lesson we can teach students – the lesson of life being a circle of learning, of ups and downs, highs and lows. There will always be an exam around the corner – don’t panic, just breathe deep and be strong!