“Can I really do this?”

Yes. You can.

I’m hearing this question a lot lately, so I thought I’d answer it!

The only thing that you can do is your best, and if you’re well prepared, and if you work hard, you will succeed. There’s a lot of pressure on students to do well in exams these days, probably even more than when I was a student myself (yes, I was that young once!), and so I thought I would give a few pointers as to why panicking is a bad idea, and why you should trust yourself.

Firstly, I believe in you. Now, that might be hard to believe, given I suspect that there are people reading this post that I’ve never met, but it’s still true. If you care about your studies (and panicking about them is a good indication that you do!), if you can be bothered to put the work in – you can do well. Part of success is a mindset: if you believe in yourself, then you’ll do well. Sports coaches sometimes say “positive thinking leads to positive outcomes” – honestly, it’s true. So have faith in yourself. Human beings are naturally wired to learn – just compare yourself as a baby to the knowledge you have now – and then remember that you still have the potential to learn just as much stuff again!

Next: right now (with the exception of controlled assessments and possibly mocks), it doesn’t matter if you get things wrong. In some senses, getting things wrong is a good thing, because it shows the areas where you need to work on: as long as you take a mistake, examine it, look at why it was made, and make sure that you never make that mistake again, you’ve turned it from something negative into a positive learning opportunity. As my dad used to say: “It’s not the falling down that matters. It’s staying down.” So don’t mistakes “get to you”. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and carry on. You’ll be stronger for it.

Finally, in a post about motivation, it would be very remiss of me not to mention my former Head of Year, now sadly no longer with us, Wayne Jenkins. In my view, Mr. Jenkins was a great motivator. Sure, we all laughed at him at the time, but looking back, his motivational attitude surely affected students’ morale – and results in their exams! One of Mr. Jenkins’ favourite mottos was what “CAN I” really stood for:


because, if you’re asking that question, he knew that with a bit of effort and positivity, CAN I? can be turned into Constant and Never-ending Improvement, and then can easily become I CAN.

So be positive: focus for these next four months, and turn “CAN I?” into “I CAN!”  🙂

P.S. I’m going to ban the phrase “I can’t do …” in my sessions. The correct one to use is “I can’t do … yet”.  😉