Negative thoughts arise from negative beliefs in your ability to be successful
This is a habit of thinking; a self-defeating habit
Beliefs and their thoughts are not reality
You can actively change your negative thoughts to positive ones
Interrupt negative thoughts with THOUGHT REPLACEMENT
Plan to replace negative thoughts with positive ones
Practice THOUGHT REPLACEMENT frequently to build new thought habits and new beliefs about yourself
Before, during and after the exam
Anytime you notice negative, self-defeating thoughts.
Interrupt negative thinking with THOUGHT REPLACEMENT:
I can do this!
I will do my best!
I can pass this test!
I will focus only on the question in front of me.
Irrational thoughts arise from
Linking one's self-worth to the test outcome
Catastrophicising the consequences of anticipated failure
Repeating and strengthening the irrational belief before, during and after the exam.
Some Irrational themes
Rigid insistence "I must pass this exam or my life won't be worth living."
Faulty logic "If I fail this exam then I am a failure as a person."
Perfectionism "If I make a mistake on this exam then I am a worthless person."
Acceptance by others "My parents will approve of me only if I pass this exam."
Self-judegement "I can't think of this answer immediately and that just shows how worthless a student I am."
Comparisons "Others are probably finding this exam easy. Everyone is better than I am and that is awful."
Anticipation "If I get nervous at all I just know I will go blank and totally fail this exam."
Interrupt irrational thinking by actively challenging your irrational thoughts.
Life will always be worth living regardless of this exam.
The test score is about this exam, not about me as a person.
I would like to pass this exam but life will go on either way.
How others do on this exam is irrelevant to me as a student and as a person.
As long as I give my best effort it doesn't matter if my exam score is less than perfect.
Even if I am nervous I will do my very best.
What others think of me is none of my business.
Whatever my test score, I intend to learn from my mistakes and do better next time.
I respect myself for taking this course, regardless of the outcome.
I would like a perfect score but I'll be OK with a pass.
I would prefer a pass to a fail but I will continue on regardless of my score.
It would be nice to have no anxiety, but I will put forth my best effort even if I am nervous.
Intrusive thoughts often arise because of anxiety
Intrusive thoughts distract from task focus
Like an anxious child demanding attention, they need soothing.
Interrupt intrusive thoughts with these six techniques
Re-focus your attention: Deliberately and strongly re-focus your attention away from the inner thought back to the external exam task in front of you.
Reassuring the thought: Affirm strongly that you will be fine or assert that you will take care of things.
Attending to the thought: Focus your attention on the thought as though listening to a person speaking but allow no response and notice how the thought fades away in the light of your conscious focus.
Practicing "Thought-Stopping": Before the exam (if you are alone), say or shout "STOP!" at the thought and intend for it to go away. Otherwise, shout "STOP!" internally to yourself.
Visualization: Visualize a bubble around the thought and then shrink the bubble as small as you can. With your breath, imagine blowing the bubble into the furthest end of the universe. See and feel it disappearing and then re-focus externally on the exam task in front of you.
Deliberate distraction: Distract your attention from the thought by practicing the brief relaxation and breathing techniques in Section 8.
Persistent, repetitive thoughts often depend on anxious tensions. Interrupt persistent exam-anxious thoughts by:
Be equally persistent in rejecting the worrisome thought.
Keep returning your attention to the task of the exam.
Visualize the "bucket" of the thought emptying itself into the "bucket" of the exam.
Redirect your attention back to the task of the exam.