We all feel nervous on the day of a test.
In fact, it’s not just tests. We feel nervous before many things: an interview for a new job, entering a room at a party alone, speaking to someone in our second language, getting on a flight to a new country.
Hands up if you’ve done all of these things? If you’re reading this blog, I know there’s a pretty big chance that you have. It’s not a nice feeling but, speaking personally for a moment, I’ve realised the more life experiences that I’ve had, the more I know this to be true:
It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be.
So why do we get nervous?
I’m not a medical person but I’m sure several of you could tell me what happens when Adrenalin is released in our bodies and the effect it has on things like heart rate etc. Emotionally, there are a few reasons why we get nervous: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of not being in control of a situation plus others. All of these apply to taking a test such as OET.
Fear of the test experience: where to go, what to do when you arrive, what to do in the test room?
Fear of failure: for many of you passing OET is going to open doors for you and maybe your family too.It will give you the chance to work and live in a different country and culture.
Fear of not being in control of the situation: What is going to be in the test, will I be able to answer the questions, will the interlocutor be nice?
These are all very good reasons to be nervous and we are often told that feeling nervous is a good thing as it demonstrates how important the action we are feeling nervous about is to us. Feeling nervous can also help us to focus our minds and perform to the best of our ability.
But what happens when nerves take over?
For those of us who have been in this situation, it means the realisation of our fears and leads to very negative results.
The key is to manage the nerves.
Allow your nerves to sharpen your senses to the task you need to do but not prevent you from performing to your ability.
How to do this will depend on you, your personal experiences with nerves and things you respond well to. Here are a few tried and tested suggestions:
• Take some deep breaths before you go into the room
• Picture in your mind all the steps you have taken to prepare yourself for this moment
• Picture yourself successfully completing the event e.g. holding a certificate
• Take small sips of water
• Touch a keepsake such as an item of jewellery which has been given to you by someone important to you and who wants you to do well
• Remind yourself that if you are successful this time, you will not need to return to this situation again
• Ignore others waiting in the same place as you, especially if they seem more nervous than you
• Silently say to yourself a confident phrase such as ‘I can do this’
• Remember positive things friends, family and colleagues have told you about your chances of success
• Smile at everyone you meet on the day and feel the positive effect of their return smile
Patients feel nervous too
One other thing that might help, which you may not have considered before, is how your situation right now is so similar to the situation your patients find themselves in when they present for your help. They are nervous about the news they are going to hear from you, whether you are going to need to do something which causes them pain and whether you will be kind to them.
What would you say to a patient feeling like this to reassure them?
Perhaps you can apply your advice to yourself as this is often the best self-treatment.
If you are taking the test today, do your best, relax as much as you can and feel proud of yourself at the end of the day.