The 'Final' Exam

Leading into the final exam of undergrad, the ‘habits’ of study and concentration that had been cultivated to that point were now going up against their ultimate test. Could I maintain focus and discipline whilst coping with the pressure of exam stress?

Here is a glimpse of how I did that daily.

Mental Rehearsal

First things first, each day I’d spend 30 seconds to a minute imagining graduating.

Second, I’d envision completing all the intended study sessions for that day.

Third and just prior to each study session I’d spend one minute mentally rehearsing and imagine knowing the ‘content’.

Deliberate Practice

Each ‘study session’ was a maximum of 45 minutes before I’d take a timed 5-15-minute break.

No distractions, cell phone out of reach and sight, residence bed made up, computer closed (unless needed).

At the end of each study session I’d swiftly review what I’d covered, then get up and take a 5-15-minute break and knew exactly what I was going to do in the break + after the break.

Sitting back down at the end of that timed break was itself a small and yet big ‘win’.

Advanced Planning

At the end of each day I’d spend between 5-10 minutes (depending) mapping out with detail my next days’ worth of study sessions, knowing the order, duration and time I was going to spend on them.

At a set time each week I’d spend between 30-60 minutes planning my study sessions for the week ahead, normally with some inspiring background music playing.

Evening + Morning Time

Each evening I’d ‘shut down’, switch off and relax and unplug at a set time (and planned for that in advance).

In the morning when I woke up and prior to breakfast I’d review what was on for the day to lock it in and get focused on what was ahead.

Mental Rehearsal + Deliberate Practice + Advanced Planning were three key elements throughout my degree.

The final exam…

For the final exam of undergrad I walked into the lecture theatre dressed in a suit and tie! (No jokes). Walked right to the front of the exam hall, nodded knowingly at the examiner and sat down and proceeded to ‘crush’ the final paper.

It was not the suit that did the trick cos quite honestly there are no tricks.

Just day in and day out consistency with clarity, advanced planning and application.

It took time to build up to that (a lot of failed attempts and a lot of perseverance to get back up).

When I look at the graduation photo today it’s not the degree that I see. It’s the commitment and intentionality towards one’s own learning process.

Don’t be afraid to explore and develop your own algorithms for studying and discipline.

See the long game + play the game at hand. Your game…the one you’ve chosen.

You’ve totally got this.



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