The Matura exam is the first serious exam in Poland that can cause a lot of stress for high school students.
For many students and also professionals, oral exams are much more stressful than written exams. Why?
- We don’t have that much time to think about the answer.
- We often have only one chance to answer the question.
- We face the committee right away.
- Our way of speaking may reveal a lack of knowledge in a certain area.
- Someone is looking at us – the phenomenon of facilitation, but more on that later.
How to present well in an oral exam?
Take care of your psychophysical condition
Is it a cliche to get enough sleep and eat well? Not really. There have been many studies that clearly show that the lack of an adequate amount of sleep affects our emotional regulation, memory and concentration. In the event that we go to the exam hungry, our attention may be focused on the growling belly, instead of mentioning the greatest Polish writers of the 19th century. Relax the day before your exam. Learning an extra batch of material won’t change much. Sleeping well and a delicious breakfast in the morning will have a positive effect.
Prepare as much as possible
Preparation supports our sense of self-confidence. Knowing that we put a lot of time and energy into something, and we have knowledge in our head, we reduce the level of stress. Competence is one of the pillars of self-confidence. If you have some time left until the exam, you can prepare for this in small steps. Neither of these methods will work if you go to the exam completely unprepared.
More than once, we are asked about our opinion of a book that we did not have time to read, or the current conflict in a country, and we threw the TV out the window 5 years ago. We could also be asked a question during an exam to which we don’t know the answer. This is where improvisation comes in handy. Have you ever seen political debates in Poland? The question is, for example, what are your plans for the coal law. The candidate often answers in such a way that the word coal does not even come up, especially if they have no idea about the subject ? In oral examinations, fluency is paramount, total silence is worse than at least saying something.
Make a simulation of the exam
It is easier for us to find ourselves in situations that we already know. A good preparation method is to take part in an exam simulation. Ask loved ones, classmates or friends outside of school to come up with a few questions and act as the examiner. This exercise can be combined with improvisation, i.e. one of the questions may be a question which is impossible to answer frankly. Therefore, you will be used to such situations and cheat your brain a little, which will not whisper “run away” after coming to the exam.
The oral exam takes place at the school you know. if you know the room number, try to visit the room ahead of time and simulate the exam environment by sitting in the exact same spot where you will be sitting during the exam. Repeat this exercise regularly at home, when standing in line somewhere, or while sitting in the car. With your mind’s eye, visualize the exam positively, from entering the room, drawing the questions, to saying goodbye to the examiners.
Leaving home at the last minute can be a big stress. Prepare your clothes the day before, pack your stuff and set two alarm clocks if the exam is early in the morning. There may be traffic or the bus may not arrive. Make sure that you arrive at school on time.
Maintaining eye contact is a sign of confidence and helps build positive relationships and reception. While answering, try to look at all committee members.
The Commission is not the enemy
Each of the teachers was in your place at one point. Try to think of them as your allies, not your enemies. Even if you do not like them very much, your grade is at stake, and then your choice of university. Focus on the exam.
I know this is a difficult and stressful moment. I keep my fingers crossed for you. Good luck! ?
Hi. Welcome to my blog 🙂 I’m a psychologist and public speaking trainer. In 2021 I was chosen as one of the top 11 public-speaking coaches worldwide 2021, according to the Coach Foundation ranking. I work as a TEDx coach and Head of Speakers at TEDxZurich. I also help, among others, lawyers, vocalists, actors, lecturers and business people in preparation for their speeches in front of hundreds of people in the audience, as well as in conducting small meetings or presentations. For many years I worked on controlling the stage fright that kept me awake at night. I was singing and dancing in a Cuban musical. I have always wondered how to manage the internal critic, not to worry about the opinion of others, and how to build a real sense of confidence on stage. Now I know the answer.
Recently, I have given countless interviews, which made me aware of the importance of confidence in front of the camera. Having been involved in music since the age of 10, I know how stressful it can be to present to a wider audience. By combining my business and music experience, I can guide you through the process of changing direction towards your dreams. Based on my vast stage experience, I have gained the ability to provide adequate tools and methods of coaching that will support your development.