Good Luck on Exams!!!

Good luck on your exams this week. Try, if you can, to find the challenge in exams and not the threat. You've got this!!

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”  Winston Churchill

Before I begin, please check out this course that’s available to you.  It’s Cross-Cultural Leadership for Engineers.  This is a great way to get intercultural learning in and to build up your resume.  For more information, contact Dr. Parker at

Good luck on taking your exams this week, as well as any projects or papers that are due.  Do the best you can.  Prepare by studying, ask last minute questions for better understanding, get plenty of sleep, and above all else, “trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.”  (Dr. Benjamin Spock).

I used to get such test anxiety that my nose would run every time I took an exam.  Once, it was so bad that I couldn’t breathe, and the guy next to me asked me if I was okay.  Can you say embarrassing!  The minute the test was over, I could breathe again.

I finally overcame my fear of exams with a World Literature class I took.  I was the only person in class that ever raised my hand.  I was already an oddball, being 31 in a class filled with 18 to 20-year-olds, so I stopped raising my hand to avoid drawing attention to myself.   That’s when I figured out how to make exams work for me.  I wanted the professor to know how much I loved and understood the material, so the exam was the only way I could get that point across.  Here’s the photo of my grade on that exam (of course I kept it).  With the extra credit, I got 109%!

I employed a strategy that Dr. Louis Tay call’s “Positively Reappraising Exam Stress”.   You can read about it in his blogpost here.  Dr. Tay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue.  He emphasizes the importance of changing your mindset from “stress-as-threat” to “stress-as challenge” when facing exams.  I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  I just knew that I had to think of the exam in a different way, since I wasn’t being brave enough to speak out in class. 

While you are looking at his page, check out the rest of his blogposts.  He covers an impressive array of topics related to well-being.  We are incredibly lucky, here at Purdue University, that there are so many caring Faculty who are eager to pass on the knowledge and insight they have gained through the years.

When taking exams, I didn’t always succeed.  I remember failing once and feeling really demoralized.  The professor kept me after class and said, “Look, you don’t need to feel bad, I expect more out of you because I know you have it in you.”  I liked that he took the time to say that.  It made me work harder in his class. 

The point being, try to keep everything in perspective.  Failing an exam or even a class will not break your life.  I know it’s hard to have perspective when you don’t have years and years of experience.  But even if the worst-case scenario is that you have to take the class over again, in the long run, it’ll be okay.  It really will!   

But, you’re going to do great! 

Side note, here is one regret that I have from my World Literature class:  One day Professor Gottfried spent the whole class period reading us scenes from Hamlet.  That was the first time that I had ever heard Shakespeare read with such passion and in a way that made me understand it.  At the end of the class, everyone, including me, just got up and left.  Nobody clapped or acknowledged his reading.  I was so tempted to.  I wanted to go up and say, “Wow!  That was absolutely amazing!”  But I didn’t.  I was too worried about what everyone around me would think.  Too worried about people I didn’t know, who didn’t have any effect on my life, to stop and say something to someone who did.  I wish I could go back and tell him what a great reading that was.  I wish I had discussed the literature I was reading.  It was brand new to me and I had lots of thoughts, but too much fear!  Don’t let those chances pass like I did! 

Good luck!!!  No matter the outcome, you’ll be fine.  If you have any comments or if you need to reach out for help, you can contact me at Rhonda Haan at


Written by Rhonda Haan