The key to effective test prep

It was testing season, and I had six exams to conquer, including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and SAT tests. Depending on the subject, each of these exams can be upwards of four hours long, and all are very strenuous. It is easy to get burned out and feel like giving up after just one exam.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I felt way out of my comfort zone, and I knew I had a decision to make. I could either continue feeling stressed and worried, or I could take charge and resolve my fear through prayer. 

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The root of my problem was an insecurity about whether I knew enough to do well on my exams.

In the past, there have been many issues—academic and otherwise—that I have prayed about. And as I’ve prayed, I have found comfort, encouragement, and resolution. So I knew I could turn to prayer for this daunting challenge as well. 

In my prayers, I started with a very simple assertion: Mind is All, and governs all. From reading Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, I’ve learned that Mind is another name for God, and that there is only one Mind, which is all-knowing. I found this to be a helpful starting point, because it had occurred to me that the root of my problem was an insecurity about whether I knew enough to do well on my exams. I realized that to counter that, I could recognize and acknowledge Mind as the source of all knowledge, intelligence, and insight. After praying this way, I felt calmer and more confident that doing well on my exams wasn’t all up to me, and that Mind was giving me (and every other student) everything I needed to succeed.

About two weeks before the exams began, I felt inspired to turn to Science and Health to ground myself even more securely in an understanding of God. I opened the book randomly to page 103. One line in particular jumped out: “… Mind-science is wholly separate from any half-way impertinent knowledge, because Mind-science is of God and demonstrates the divine Principle, working out the purposes of good only.” 

Everything about my exams was governed by God.

The phrase that really struck me was “working out the purposes of good only.” I felt a wave of profound comfort wash over me as I recognized that everything about my exams was governed by God, the divine Principle, and that God was working through me for the purpose of good. In that moment, my fear was replaced by peace.

When the exams rolled around, I still had a few butterflies, which seem to come with the territory of testing season. However, I found that I wasn’t worried about whether I knew enough about the content I was being tested on. My prayer, and the answers that came with it, reassured me that since I am the reflection of Mind, I must be thoroughly prepared. I also found that I had no ill effects whatsoever from taking the exams, and I came through all six tests without feeling fatigued or depleted. 

This year’s exam season looks a little different, with some tests moving online in new formats and others canceled altogether because of COVID-19. But I’m still grateful to have learned that prayer is a key part of test preparation—and even test taking.

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