I couldn’t complete the test. I’d studied and felt I knew the material. But in spite of my hard work, I couldn’t get through the exam for my Advanced Placement chemistry class. It was extremely disappointing, but I promised myself that it wouldn’t happen again.
After a restful Christmas break, I came into class prepared to succeed on the next exam. But the first question left me feeling as if I were reading another language. I tried to clear my thought immediately by praying. But fear seemed to take over, and I was forced to leave most of the exam blank. Even though I had another class period to finish the exam, I didn’t feel I could complete the test anyway, as I did not know most of the material, despite hours of preparation.
That afternoon, after I got home from school, I decided I needed to approach things differently. Instead of beginning to study again immediately, I took some time to pray.
I decided I needed to approach things differently. Instead of beginning to study again immediately, I took some time to pray.
I began by praying to let go of any resentment I felt toward the class, the teacher, or about the test, and I declared that the test was an opportunity to demonstrate my God-given intelligence. This intelligence is infinite, since God is infinite, and I knew I could express it freely. I also recognized that intelligence was not brain-based, but God-based.
I realized that often I would ask my friends who had already taken the test whether it was easy or hard, and since most of them said it was difficult, I’d been starting each test with a predetermined opinion about how well I would probably do. I had accepted the idea that the test was difficult, and that I had to struggle as a result. I could also see that I was limiting myself by starting from the wrong standpoint—that intelligence was coming from me instead of from God, who is the one and only Mind. In my prayer, I declared that Mind was always present and that God was in control and governing me.
Next, I reviewed my motives for taking the class and my desire to do well. I saw that the only motive I’d really had was a pure desire to learn. Chemistry had always been one of my favorite subjects, and I have always loved to learn. I knew that with this pure motive animating my work, only a positive outcome could be possible. I was expressing God’s goodness, and only good could be the result.
I also prayed with the idea that there was nothing outside Mind, God. There was no limited mind taking a test or being confused. As Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (p. 468). This was a great reassurance that one Mind governs my work, as well as every aspect of creation.
Before opening my chemistry book again, I turned to this quote from Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6). I decided that as I proceeded to study for the test, I would put all my trust in God and never doubt that I would be directed to the right material. I felt a lot of peace about this approach, and my studying went really well after that.
The next day, I had another opportunity to finish the exam, and I did so with ease and confidence. Rather than panic, I felt a calm sense of guidance, as though I was being led to the correct answer or the right method to solve the problem at each stage of the test. It was a completely different test-taking experience from what I’d ever had before, and I finished the exam feeling joyful and inspired. My good grade reflected both my hard work and, more important, the prayer that had gone into my test prep.
This experience gave me a new understanding of how to pray effectively about tests, and to triumph knowing that I am truly the expression of infinite Mind.