Motivation, Confidence and Examination Performance at school (Part 2)

Motivation, Confidence and Examination Performance at school. (Part 2)

By Ian Geddes and Susan Chan

Thanks for coming back to read part 2! When I give motivation talks in schools to students, I am always heartened to see and listen to hard working, bright motivated students. However I often encounter students that are not motivated and often have very low levels of confidence.

‘I’m not very clever’.

‘History is too hard’.

‘Can’t pass exams’.

I have always regarded underachievement as a great shame. I try to tackle these negative views head on. If that is what is being said then the chances are that failure will follow. To me, the most important attributes to have when setting out to pass an exam are,


Study Skills and techniques

Support from people around

Lots of visualisation

Practise. Practise. Practise.

There is lots of research available on the value of practise. If you put in the effort and the time, then the rewards will come.

So what are the second 5 key steps to increase motivation, confidence and performance?

  • Create a positive, fun, inspirational environment.

Never mock, compare, condemn or undermine what they have done. Respond openly and with patience. Find space to create a corner of inspiration. Give your child ownership of that space.

  • Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness is a new way of looking at an ancient eastern philosophy. It is so important to focus on what is happening now. What may have happened in the past is in the past. Think about what you are doing now. Focus on your breathing. Be alive and aware of your immediate task. Enjoy the experience. Accept that we cannot know everything. Adopt what is called the ‘beginner’s Mind’, and return to the basics renewed.

  • Improve levels of confidence and self esteem

Every child has experienced success at some time. Get them to visualise the feeling they had. Success may have been in sport, dance, a personal relationship, music, at a club or even passing a cycling proficiency test! Remind them how they felt and that they can recreate that feeling at any time. They can do anything they want to do and practise to achieve it.

  • Give them the skills and techniques to pass exams.

Reading. Writing. Note taking. Managing time. Strategies to improve the memory. Practise. Knowing the system. Planning. Being organised. Having a space. Support. Enthusiasm. There are good study books around for the various subjects. Check out the interactive study skill sites and get a really good study skill book such as, ‘How to Pass SQA Exams’, by Ian Geddes (Me!) Although supported by the examination body for Scotland, the content is valid for any examination system.


  • Overcome the fear and anxiety and learn to relax and thrive There is nothing worse than, after all the hard study, that your child walks into an exam and their mind goes blank. Nerves and anxiety get the better of and the brain stops working properly! This is a well-known phenomenon in psychology – known as state-dependant memory. The state you are in determines what you can remember. If you are in a very different state to when you learned, it is hard to recall things. If you are very anxious, your brain is simply in the wrong state for thinking! Hypnosis or deep relaxation can help to beat exam nerves, remember what you have practised and leave the person to respond with the sort of emotional response that will help performance. So in an exam, you need calmness tinged with a little excitement to give you that extra edge. A little stress actually improves memory and recall.

We hope that these tips will now give an edge when it comes to ‘Motivation, Confidence and Examination Performance at school’. If you want more information, contact Ian at New Horizons to discuss any aspect of these ‘Newsblogs’ and arrange an appointment.


Posted in: Coaching, Mindfulness, Motivation
February 4th, 2012 Share On Twitter Share on Twitter Share On Facebook Share on Facebook

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