Do you remember the last time you had to take an exam? What was it like?
I started playing the piano at age 5, and for the next 13 years, I found myself in many situations – such as playing at concerts or competitions – where I had to perform well. In 2004, I found myself in a highly stressful situation and ended up suffering from insomnia for more than a year. It had a massive negative effect on my studies and exams – and this was the year that I completed two degrees: An MSc in Biology and a BA in Events Management.
I had two final exams to prepare for. My first exam was Biology, and I had plenty of time to prepare. But I had only 10 days for my second exam, meaning that I also had to rest after studying biology for a month and find enough space in my brain for new information.
During my Events Management final exam, my mind went completely blank. I sat there for more than 10 minutes with a blank paper in front of me with a racing heart and shaking legs… Since I didn’t know anything about relaxation techniques at that time, I had no idea what to do. I wanted to give the paper back to my professor and walk out of the room, but couldn’t face the fact that I’d have to study more and face the exam all over again at a later date.
After spending 10-15 minutes in a ‘I want to run away’ mode, somehow I managed to calm myself down, and information slowly started to penetrate back to my brain. Only a small percentage of that information was related to the topic I got, and I also struggled to make sense of it. When I presented my topic, somehow I managed to start a conversation with my professor instead of just her listening and me talking.
When I finished and left the room I was still shaking, and could hardly talk to my friends who were waiting outside to support each other. I had no idea if I passed or not.
When we got back to the room for the results, it turned out that I got the best possible mark. I was happy and exhausted and more than 10 years later still don’t have any idea how I did it.
If there is something that resonated with you, I would love to hear your experiences.