Business Commentary

Preparing for exam day!

Exams are a pretty blunt instrument for assessing knowledge – but they are what we have to work with on the WSET Wine Diploma.  Whatever our knowledge level or capacity to answer a specific question, let’s not let the exam derail us before we have even put pen to paper!

This is my own preparation plan…..

On Exam Day! Expect to be nervous, channel this energy.  Going into exams, people can feel a sense of anxiety, nerves, or similar feelings.  These can distract you, reduce your ability to concentrate, or at their worst send you into a complete panic.  Expecting to experience these emotions, imagining them in your mind and rehearsing them, is the easiest way to overcome them. Nerves if managed correctly are a good thing because they raise your brains intensity to think.  Nerves mean it matters – they don’t mean you can’t do this.

Plan how you will spend the Monday before the exams carefully. It is really easy to spend the day before any exam panicking and trying to cover too much subject matter.  Think carefully about a plan for the day before hand and a set of things to revisit that suits you and your revision to date

When you read the exam questions you will naturally gravitate to the ones you think you can answer well.  Have a view on when to answer the questions you feel best able to answer and when to answer the question you are least comfortable with, but still want to tackle.  If a question particularly resonates with you, read it again at a slower pace, to ensure you can answer the actual question set – not the question you would like it to be.

Plan what to read or do in the hours before the exam.  You need to warm your mind up so it is ready to concentrate on the subject – without overloading it to a point where is cannot focus and goes into panic or overdrive.  Either of these two mindsets is likely to mean you don’t answer the actual questions on the paper.  Before the exam, I will briefly review how a standard red / white wine is made, and the typical characteristics of broad growing environment for acceptable quality wines.  This will be enough to get the mind thinking about wine and hopefully accessing my studies.

Once the first exam is over – do not think about it again.  Referencing back to answers, wondering exactly what you wrote, wondering if you answered the question correctly or not, disrupts your brain and diverts away from answering the next set of questions.  How you did on another paper is not relevant to the questions you now need to answer.  You need to have a routine that enables you to relax, rest, and then get your brain ready to go again.

Have a reset memory in your mind for the exam.  Think deeply on a few different occasions about a particularly positive memory you have connected to this journey – where you were super happy to be studying for your wine diploma.  If your mind goes blank during an exam, or if you feel unable to begin a question – think of this memory.  It will reset your mind and allow you to access the knowledge you have, even if it is not as detailed as you would like it to be.

Remain positive and always remember you have earned the right to enjoy this experience!

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