Being an O Level student and taking the first set of CAIE exams - Pakistan Studies, Islamiat and Urdu; surely comes with a lot of unprecedented anxiety, uneasiness, and concern to perform well in your exams. In this blog, I will be sharing my own personal experience, which will also be an ultimate guide for you on how to conquer your exam fears. So, let’s jump right in!
Last Week of Studying:
The last week of studying was no less than chaos. Piles of O Level books accompanied me to my sleep and honestly, gaslighting myself into not sleeping had become the norm. Completely snowed under unlimited pastpaper work, it had become extremely hard to meet my deadlines while the fear of not doing enough had steadily begun to suffocate me. Notes of every chapter and every subject were scattered all around my room, my phone was on a constant ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ mode and all I did was try to eat my fear away as continuous fast food deliveries came through my door. Self-doubt plagued my mind - was I doing enough? Had I covered all O Level topics? Should I do more pastpaper practice? O Level students really have a demanding workload!
And then came the bittersweet feeling on the last night before the CAIE exams begin - should I be happy for finally making it to exam day or worried that I need more time to prepare?
Day of the O Level Exam:
List for the Morning Before the CAIE Exam:
I double-checked my list of tasks to do, which began with having a healthy breakfast, making sure my bag had a pencil case with all the necessary stationary and collecting the required entrance documents and my study notes.
Here's my task list for you to utilize as well:
- A healthy breakfast (milk, yoghurt or eggs with bread)
- Statement of Entry
- School ID Card
- CNIC (Smart Card for below 18) or Passport (for non-Pakistani students)
- A clear pencil case: 2 pens and 2 pencils, 1 sharpener and eraser
- Google the address to the exam center to know how much time it would require to travelling
Before the CAIE Exam Hall:
Reaching the center, my steps became slower than usual, I could feel palpitation in my chest and all I longed for was to run back home to my bed. Then came the bell. It was a signal that the doors to the O Level exam were now open, for me it was a signal that my worst nightmare was coming true.
While everyone around me effortlessly walked towards the CAIE exam hall, I could just not let go of my O Level study notes. Knots began in my stomach as I struggled to keep afloat - immensely clueless and scared about what to expect. I stood in the queue oblivious with bated breath unsuccessfully trying to recall all the important information related to exams.
At the CAIE Exam Hall:
Amidst all the workload pressure that my weak shoulders had to bear there was a constant fear of the exam hall. What if my brain goes blank? What if I run out of time? What if the invigilator thinks I’m cheating? To my surprise my fears certainly did turn into reality - my first CAIE, O Level Islamiat, was one of the toughest exams I had to take. Sweaty hands, a palpitating heart and a nervous stomach were the key factors for why I ran out of time, left an entire question unanswered, and messed up some other answers.
After the CAIE O Level Exam:
On my way back, disappointment had surely taken over. Moreover, in fright of the outcome, my anxiety levels were higher than the K-2 mountain. However, a lesson was learnt and the topmost priority now was to never let history repeat itself!
Here are some tips and the ultimate guide on how you can avoid such a situation:
- Set your priorities
Know that your well-being and health are the most important thing. If you are not prioritizing it enough you might not be able to conquer this academic frontier.
- Have faith in yourself
No matter what subject the exam is of, you need to understand that you’ve given your hundred percent and leave no room for self-doubt. Be confident about your prep. (*Extra tip: choose Out-Class as your smart exam prep partner!)
- Have a good night's sleep
The day before your exam should not be the one where you tirelessly cram the entire book but instead, you should say your prayers, close your books and go to sleep. This ensures that you have enough energy conserved for your exam.
- Freshen up your mind
You can surely practice breathing exercises or any form of meditation that brings you peace. This way you will not be extremely anxious and won’t mess up your exam.
Surely taking your first ever O Level exams can be a stressful condition but with the right amount of prep and guidance, they can be aced very efficiently. Learn from your mistakes and never let the fear of failure stop you from doing your best. Best of Luck!