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Preparing exams

This article is about studying remotely and developing our autonomy to be successful and is part of a series of articles and resources on the subject of the academic journey, where you can go back to look at the different academic challenges and access other articles.

A note from a coach, coaching a student.

I am writing this blog post as one in a series of real-life coaching situations that I have participated in. My hope in doing this is to help other students feel less alone with their challenges and issues, know how other students feel and how others have worked through their difficulty to get to the goal or outcome they desired. I have recently created great value with a student preparing for a year-end exam who came to me two weeks before her exam, very stressed about the fact that she hadn’t prepared enough and she absolutely wanted to be confident the day of the exam in order to not mess it up, as well as quickly structure her preparation to be efficient during the remaining days! A big challenge for a two-week timeframe!

The good news is that we did great, “AD” (the student’s name) not only loved coaching but she reached her exam prepared, structured, confident and with much less stress! How did we do that? AD worked using a mix of human coaching and self-coaching technology to help her get ongoing coaching during the two weeks she had available, at a very affordable rate. The most important insight to share with you is to describe how we created value for her so that she was structured and prepared. Below are some insights…

AD was stressed. When you are stressed you can’t think about things in the most constructive way. So, she started talking to me about her issue, and guided by specific techniques, I asked useful coaching questions during one phone conversation. Through emails with the self-coaching technology, she was also able to reflect, asking herself important questions. As a result, she started to see and analyze different limitations in her thinking which were causing her stress. She even realized that she had wrongly counted the days until the exam and discovered she had a few more days in her timeline. A first layer of stress released and hope increasing, a good beginning! Due to the stress, the frustrations and limiting thinking, AD wasn’t able to create the best possible planning and structure to study, because she wasn’t questioning the right elements to lead herself to prepare efficiently. Through self-coaching with technology and phone conversations we got her to the stage of building a well-organized and personalized study and preparation plan.

We let a few days go by so that she could start applying her goals and actions. A few days later she started to measure her actions through the self-coaching technology. We planned a new phone conversation to remove the last limiting blocks and see what was left to do within the final week of preparation:

  • we changed the way she was interpreting a teacher’s comments on an assignment where she had a low grade and used that information to identify where she needed to improve and create a great focus point for her to turn failure into future success;
  • we identified what was working for her: she knew her weaknesses and what she would be examined on, and, she knew what day to day organizational structure worked best for her. So we focused on those success elements and used them to build the weekly planning she needed in order to review all the information she wanted to review.
  • we also identified her more empowering thoughts and values, and why she was doing her studies, which helped her be more inspired, motivated and driven to focus on the work;
  • we identified what was not working; distractions, her environment and how she was scheduling to meet other people, so that she created a weekly plan to focus on the work which also respected her time for rest and resourcing;

With the experience of the coaching she had for the first week in developing her plan, she was able to restructure and adapt for the final week of work and connect to the vision of her going to the exam prepared and ready. We didn’t need more coaching in the last 3-4 days before the exam and everything went as she had hoped. Here is what she said after her exam:

“What it brought me: serenity, motivation, self-confidence. I had the impression to get to my exam more prepared, more focused. What I loved: each conversation made me more trusting and confident, made me understand things that I wasn’t seeing before when too much head down. How did I experience it: well actually, it’s great to have an external point of view to help us scaffold our thinking and extract the essentials of it. I told myself that I should have started this earlier!”

The key milestones and the real value that AD created for herself are the following:

  • She asked for help, this enabled her to choose to seek support and invest in her success.
  • She recognized her problem and worked on reframing it: from projecting her upcoming failure, she shifted to focus on organizing her last two weeks of preparation and making a study plan that was efficient and helped her to prioritize her weaknesses and sustain the work on her existing strengths.
  • She challenged herself to observe and change the way she was thinking. Doing this enabled her to identify key insights and generate her own advice.
  • She unlocked limiting thinking, in order to produce an inspirational and natural energy.
  • She gave herself a chance.
  • She persisted and kept her focus until the end.
  • She structured her time in a very organized way with free time to rest as well.

Because AD decided to structure her approach, her attitude and her behaviors, she naturally created a window for growth and empowerment resulting in decreasing the stress, activating hope and motivation and better states to study and be productive. I believe that all students can achieve the same results with small nuances and adjustments based on who they are and what they want to achieve.

A note from Isla, Chief Learning Officer at PocketConfidant AI.

One of AD’s first steps to success was to recognize what “limiting beliefs”, or “limited thinking” she was working with that might be creating problems for her. It is worthwhile exploring what “limiting beliefs” or “limiting thoughts” are exactly and why they are so important to identify?

Let’s define both the term limiting and the term belief. Where do our beliefs come from? How often do we ask ourselves if something we think and have been thinking about in the same way for a long time is in fact true – is it not just a very familiar thought? The definition of limiting is things that do not serve us. Often because of our background, upbringing, previous education, we create an understanding of a situation that can be incorrect. It takes both courage and perception to look at it clearly and ask questions around whether it is true or not.

Our life experiences form our understanding of what we can and cannot do, or, said in other words, what we know to be true from our reality. We identify easily with things or ideas that are familiar, but as we do not have experience of things we have not yet lived through, we tend to see ourselves with limited capacity when something more challenging or difficult shows up. Our limiting thoughts or beliefs are the assumptions or perceptions of what is possible for us, but imagine how much more can be available to us when we are open to other possibilities? When we understand that what we think is actually defined by what we already know and there is so much more to know in the world…the possibilities are endless. Although I do not know exactly what AD identified as her limiting thoughts or beliefs, I do know that she took the decision to suspend them…to imagine that she had a lot more capacity for success than she had envisaged before the coaching conversation that started her reflecting on her own thinking. With coaching help she created a plan that was personalized to her and her needs and desires.

From this blog post you can get started on your self-coaching journey now here for free, and you can get further coaching or mentoring with options available here.

If you want more information feel free to contact us.

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Olivier Malafronte

Founder @PocketConfidant AI, Certified Coach, Masters in Business, lived and worked in 5 countries. Passionate entrepreneur, focus on global issues with a will to contribute and improve our world. "Keep going".