Can doing well on exams depend on physical and emotional preparation?Can doing well on exams depend on physical and emotional preparation?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course it can, and it often does.  How could it not? Taking an exam (which I'm defining as a significant test taken in a lengthy period of time, such as a unit test or final exam) requires one to be physically alert, at the least, and emotionally engaged.  Mostly, though, it requires study and preparation.

Physical preparation includes getting sufficient rest (so as to stay awake during the exam), arriving to the exam site in a timely fashion (so as not to feel rushed or flustered), and eating something healthy beforehand to avoid either a sugar "crash" or the distractions of hunger pangs. 

Emotionally, too, there is important work to be done before taking such an exam. Knowing the material is the best emotional preparation, of course.  Aside from that, not allowing distractions (i.e., problems at home, the cute boy sitting in the next seat) to get in the way of focused thinking and not getting upset if the exam isn't progressing as expected (i.e., time, content) are essential.

Relatively few people are truly "frozen" by even the thought of taking an exam; for most, the nervousness and angst do not rise to that level.  I've had "nervous" test-takers in class, and by far the best way even for them to experience success on a serious exam is simply to know the material.  Squeeze a ball, twirl a pen, or do whatever else might ease the physical and emotional stress; but if there is no possible response to the question, nothing else matters. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Short answer:  Yes, Yes, Yes!  Emphatically so, I would say.  The reality is that too often the mental and physical aspect of exam preparation is forgotten.  Students become so overwhelmed with the notion of preparing content and cramming, as well as worrying about the implications of doing poorly, that they forget the most fundamental elements.  From a physical standpoint, the student's mind has to be fresh and ready to "attack the exam."  If there is fatigue or tired feelings entering the exam, students stand a greater chance of getting stumped or derailed in their attempts to do well.  At the same time, eating a healthy breakfast that provides short and long term energy is essential to any endeavor, definitely so in an exam.  Mentally, I think this aspect is also overlooked.  Students need to be reminded that "every battle is won before it's fought."  If a student has taken the needed precautions in preparing for the exam and has done everything within their power, then the student has nothing to fear and "let the chips fall where they may."  This emotional or mental state is needed for success in anything, definitely so in an exam.

lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another aspect of emotional preparation relates to your own belief in your abilities. I once taught a personal development class for a community college, and we relied heavily on the work of a motivational speaker by the name of Lou Tice. One of the things he talked a lot about was the fact that we can subconsciously sabotage ourselves out of success we do not believe that we deserve it. Our inner critic tells us we can't be skinny, so we eat the extra piece of cake to make up for the fact that we ate healthy food all day long. This is the same critic who allows us to oversleep for a job interview we feel that we do not deserve, and it is the SAME critic who keeps us from doing well on exams if we do not believe in ourselves. Tice also taught a converse theory - the idea of affirmations. Say something as if it is true and it will become true is the general idea. So, saying over and over again "I made an A on my test" will help you mentally accept that you deserve the A and it will help you to achieve it.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely!  If you are sick, tired, too cold, too hot, hungry, or anxious...any and all of these can and will effect the results of your tests!  The best way to prepare for any test is to study over several nights (NOT CRAMMING ALL NIGHT ON NO-DOZE AND COFFEE), getting a good night's sleep the night before the test, eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast, and leaving for the testing site in plenty of time to arrive before testing begins so there is as little stress as possible on you.  Be sure you have all your necessary materials--ID, pencils, calculator, light jacket in case the testing site is too cold for your taste, snack and water for break time, etc.

Always be sure to go back over your answers and check to make sure that every question has been answered.  Only change an answer if you know for certain or with 95% certainty that the first choice was incorrect.  If you are not certain, leave the original answer...your first choice is usually the best.

Good Luck!

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On exams that test your knowledge and ability to think, I believe physical and mental rest and emotional calm are key to success.  Certainly, preparation is a lot - but when it comes down to it, usually you know what you know.  If you can heighten and emphasize your strengths (even on the sections you perhaps needed to study more) you will overall be able to do better.

ON multiple choice tests, students who say they are "bad test takers" often are not bad students.  The key is to relax and allow yourself to really think... even if you haven't memorized all the answers, more often than not, if you are relaxed enough, you can at least eliminate WRONG answers and use your head to make the most logical choices.

On essay tests - well, if you've practiced enough in advance, the only thing left to do is learn to relax and use what you know you know.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely it can, and does, almost without fail.  The night before the national AP US History Exam, I tell my students to stop studying everything by 8 PM the night before.  Let their mind detox for about an hour or so, and then get a good, full night's sleep.  At that point I believe it's the single most effective thing they can do to prepare.

Your brain is not a machine.  It needs good food, it needs water, it needs to rest and recuperate.  It needs exercise.  Besides, staying up late to "cram" for a test leads to diminishing returns.  The longer you study, the less you retain per hour.

It also helps to focus the day of the exam.  Don't get distracted by telephone calls or the TV, don't spend all morning texting.  Find a space, think about what you need to do, and you'll find that you do much better overall than you would expect.

dastice eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely!  While studying is important, there are people who will swear to you that they barely study and still do well on exams because they are "good test takers".  Their secrets often include eliminating obviously wrong answers on multiple choice tests and focusing on what they do know on essay tests (and generally adding a bit of b.s.).

Even in these situations, you need a clear head and the ability to maintain focus.  Being physically and emotionally rested makes it easier to recall information from your memory, read into test questions, and communicate better.  When you feel frazzled you are at a definite disadvantage.  I always remind students to get a good night's sleep and to eat a healthy breakfast before a test day.  It makes a difference!


marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Can doing well on exams depend on physical and emotional preparation?

Can doing well on exams depend on physical and emotional preparation?

  Physical and emotional preparation is everything when it comes to doing well on any exam!  Not only must you study effectively well before the exam date, but you must keep a positive frame of mind and tell yourself you can do it.    As with anything, attitude is half the battle of success, whether it's studying for exams or quitting smoking. If you know you've prepared well study-wise, then adopt a mind-set that 100% is a distinct possibility.  Aim high and you just might (and probably will) hit the target!

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree that preparation is indeed a mental and physical process. Light exercise to relax such as brain gym can help keep you calm and focused. I think that if you have relaxed your body and listened to its needs - food, water, sleep - you will be able to run through the test much easier.

Mental preparation also involves being comfortable with the exam and knowing what to expect: what is the question format? How will you manage your time? Is equipment required?

It is also important to switch off AFTER the test and avoid the postmortems until you have your results. There is no value of fretting over a right or wrong answer once it has been submitted.

ktmagalia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absolutely and without question.  Half of test success hinges on attitude, well, really everything in life hinges on attitude, right? When preparing for the AP test, I am sure to offer each student the opportunity to come in on a scheduled Saturday morning to take a practice exam.  I bring in snacks and prizes, and we have fun, energy packed morning of test prepping.  Does this work? Absolutely. Students tell me that it was well worth giving up a Saturday morning to be better prepared. Those who were lazy, and chose to sleep in, regret it in May when the AP exam hits.  Scores prove that it does indeed play a part in testing success.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Completely. As other editors have pointed out, you need to academically and intellectually prepare yourself as well - obviously, at the end of the day, if you haven't learnt the material it doesn't matter how well you are prepared emotionally or physically for the exam - you are going to flunk it! But it is so important to be confident, to think positive, to eat and sleep enough before an exam.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Physical and emotional preparation have a lot to do with exams. Students that are tired or haven't eaten are most likely not going to be able to concentrate as well on the test. I keep snacks in my room for students who maybe missed breakfast or lunch for some reason. This way they can at least have a little energy for the exam.

shuvanjan | Student

To a larger extent I agree that doing well in exams depend upon physical and emotional preparations. You should be healthy enough to tackle the questions and emotionally you should be very strong. This is what we have experienced in the exams that we have faced till this date. Our determination to answer the questions or solve the problems is hugely affected by our preparations. However, sometimes physical and emotional preparations are also not enough. You have to depend upon luck. If it is your day, then no barrier can hurdle you. And if the day is not yours, you cannot expect better results.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Physical and emotional condition of a person cannot by itself contribute to success in exams. But a person who knows his subject well, can definitely perform better better in exams with good physical and emotional condition. These aspects at the time of exams help a person in many ways. Physical condition directly impact things like ability ability to go through the process of exams without becoming excessively tired and therefore maintain peak performance. A person who is physically unwell, is too tired or sleepy at the time of appearing for exams, is likely to find it difficult to concentrate mentally. This may impact things like ability to recall, errors made in reading, writing and calculating, and alertness.

Emotional condition of a person has considerable impact on the way a person approaches and exam. For example, things like how easily a person gives up trying to solve a problem, or how innovative a person can be is very much impacted by emotional condition. Performance in tasks like creative writing is considerably impacted by emotions.

Good physical health and emotional conditional also help individuals to study and prepare for exams more effectively. A person in good health and right emotional frame of mind can study harder and longer, with greater concentration. Therefore, for success in exams it is important to pay attention to ones health and emotional condition. Particular care should be taken to ensure that a person does not tire himself or herself so much by the preparation for the exams that he  or she is too tired or too sleepy during exams. This combined with feeling of nervousness can cause fogging or blanking out the mind so that a person is unable to recall from memory what has been learnt.