Confidence – the secret ingredient


“Whatever you say, say it with conviction”

Act confident: US editorial cartoon from 1912 presidential election season. Shows candidates Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and William Howard Taft (left to right at top, and right to left at bottom). Signed Berryman.

Mark Twain

Talk to anyone at exam time and you’ll find they are not feeling very confident (or that is what they say…). They think they’ll fail; they didn’t study enough, their dog ate their study notes, they have a hangover etcetera etcetera.

What makes you confident about writing that killer essay in your exam? Plenty of study. Yet plenty of study never seems enough does it?

When you walk into an exam you have two options: believe you haven’t studied enough, or believe you have and walk in relaxed, calm, and confident. Irrespective of much or how little you have studied, you can choose to be confident – or walk in feeling like you are going to be sick all over your freshly printed exam paper.

It seems a pretty easy choice doesn’t it? Take two situations where you have studied an identical amount, and being confident is much better than not being confident. If you are confident you are more relaxed and therefore less likely to panic or blank out in the exam. Also, you will be surprised with what you do know and can remember.

On another note; your exam is an essay, an essay is an argument, and an argument must be persuasive. Are you more likely to be persuaded by some who is confident when they speak or someone who looks like they are going to dissolve in a pool of fear? Someone who is confident.

So whatever you are writing in your exam, correct or not – be confident!

The ‘con’  in con artist stands for confidence. They persuade you to place your confidence in them. How? By being confident. In an exam essay you need to to persuade the marker to put their confidence in your knowledge and ability in the subject. Even if you know everything there is to know about the subject, the marker won’t be persuaded if you don’t write confidently.

So confidence improves your performance and the essay you produce. Be confident this week and see what happens…

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  1. #1 by Milly on November 10, 2010 - 1:13 pm

    Confidence…you’d be surprised how quickly it leaves you. For example, in some high school’s just before major exams, students that are waiting to get into the exam rooms are always recapping their notes studied last night. And the confident average student can’t help but over hear and begins to panic because that’s not how they remember the notes. Now we’re in University, and the same routine can’t help but drive on. Those student’s that do this, please use your inside voice and consider those less fortunate 🙂

    • #2 by jwrait on November 14, 2010 - 11:02 pm

      Exactly, don’t listen to or talk about exam content right before the exam. It does put you off and can make you second guess yourself.

      Also, after an exam, don’t talk about the exam with anyone – it’s done, it’s over – and if they put or wrote something different you’ll worry – and it’s too late to worry! Go enjoy your break (until the results come out…)!

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