May 10, 2024 5 min read

Exam-Taking Techniques #5 - BE CONFIDENT!

"In my opinion, confidence is the most important element of success."

So far, we've discussed techniques you can implement before you take the exam. Over the next several articles, we'll introduce methods you can use during the exam. However, the particular technique covered in this article is important all of the time.

Okay. You've studied hard, gone through the practice exams, reviewed your notes, created your cheat sheet—you've done everything you can to prep. Or have you?

To me, the most important keys to success are the intangible ones. Building confidence is perhaps the most vital of these. Without confidence, a person stands little chance of reaching their desired goals. Concentrate on building your self-assuredness. Work on being certain that you will pass the exam!

If you have indeed studied as much as possible, worked on multiple practice exams, reviewed your notes, and so on, then these things alone should build confidence. And that's a great start. But listen to this:

You have to be confident for no reason whatsoever.

That statement might sound strange, but think of it this way: You are great…I am great…(to quote Dr. Daystrom). It might sound egotistical, but truly, there is no disputing this. That’s the mentality you must have. That's the mindset you should strive for while taking the exam and during your studies.

During the exam, your confidence level will dictate how strongly you approach questions, and how sure you will be of the answers. Think of it as a positive mindset. One where you have no doubt of your ability to answer questions correctly. (Check your answers? Yes, but be certain of your answers, be sure of yourself.)

Let's return to my statement about "being confident for no reason at all" for a minute. Well, being confident for the sake of being confident is all well and good, but it's a bit... mystical. You're probably looking for something more concrete. That said, here is a short list of some tried and true ways to build confidence:

  • Set goals—Know what your goals are. The immediate goal is to pass the exam—of course. But why? Usually, it is to prove to an employer that you have the skills required for a position at that organization. Perhaps to give your resume and interview power a boost over the competition. So, the medium-term goal is to work at a job. Why? To earn money, learn and gain experience, support yourself, and perhaps support a family. But your ultimate long-term goal should be to progress. To enrich yourself (and others). To mature. To become more. But remember also to imagine. Think on this: Everything we do, we imagine it first. Goals come from imagination.
  • Practice—In my experience, the first step toward confidence is practice. The more you learn and practice, the easier confidence will come to you. Keep working with the technologies you love. Practice in a hands-on manner. Take extensive notes. Read documentation like a pro! Join study groups and forums. In short, KNOW your technology.
    Going further, challenge yourself. Learn to leave your comfort zone and try new things and new methods.
    Follow the lead of successful people. I attended a talk by Stephen King and his emphasis was on work. He stressed that an aspiring author should be reading and writing from 4 to 6 hours per day. He also talked about having that mindset for whatever field you want to work in. Wise words—I like them, 4 to 6 hours per day. Perhaps more—but that will depend on how much of a workaholic you are!
    Put in the time and you'll end up just fine.
  • Learn from your mistakes—This one is huge. First, you have to be able to admit to a mistake. Then, you can analyze it and learn from it. But remember, everyone makes mistakes, right? So be kind to yourself. By this I mean, don't beat yourself up over mistakes. As I say, everyone makes them. Let me tell you—I've made them all!
  • Don't compare yourself to others—Don't be concerned with what other people are doing. And don't worry about what others think of you. There are billions of people in the world. But the only ones that matter are family and friends. So don't worry about the masses. They don't dictate your path—you do.
    When you imagine yourself as confident, don't be concerned if a person thinks you are too confident (which, by the way, is quite rare...) Besides, you are not being pretentious if you think these confident thoughts to yourself. Acting that way excessively toward others…well, that’s another matter! Remember to be respectful, and ultimately what others will see is a confident, successful person in you. And that's a good thing.
  • Be positive—Learn to be as positive as you can. Surround yourself with positivity. Speak positively about yourself (and about others). Eliminate the negative through avoidance and transformation. Also, realize that bad things will happen. It's a fact of life. When they do, all you can do is move forward (and as we mentioned before, learn from your mistakes). Focus on the positive goal, and remember your past accomplishments—they can help you to feel good about yourself, especially in times of need. Then, take action. Action conquers fear, and that allows your mind to behave properly. At exam time, be kind to your proctor, dress for success, and be prepared... be ready. These actions can go a long way toward boosting your overall confidence.
  • Celebrate your successes!—Why do it if there is no reward? When you do pass the exam, you should be elated!
    For some, the knowledge that the goal was completed is enough reward. Revel in the fact! Proceed with happy dance (if you do that kind of thing!)
    For others, a celebration is in order. Your celebration could be as simple as a night out at the movies, or as in-depth as a ski trip to the Swiss Alps.
    Whatever your celebratory habits, consider letting others in on the festivities. It can help breed success among them as well!
I really can't stress enough how important this technique is. So, have faith, build that inner confidence, and your exam-taking mindset should be complete!

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

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