At a time of challenge or anxiety around the crunch time of exams, how a student is talking to her- or him-self can be very revealing. It is something to home in on, if possible: as a litmus test to listen to how the exam taker is traveling with the exam in prospect and the challenges the exam is presenting personally to them.
Most people learn to think using language. People express themselves to others typically via language. But we talk to ourselves as well – and probably more than we talk to others!
Self-talk is a significant factor in regulating emotional balance, focus, and effort. If we are talking to ourselves the ‘wrong’ way, we can easily create difficulties for ourselves. The self-fulfilling prophecy proposition for us is based on thinking or talking aloud about something and the thought-line becoming a dominant factor in the situation, be that success or failure. Anxiety over failure can be a powerful attention grabber of what one talks to oneself about.
Anyone under pressure to perform – whether in exams, or at work, or in sports – needs to be conscious of how they are talking to themselves and how that self-talk may influence how they are behaving (i.e., studying, practicing). Students at exam time, with arguably less experience of life, can be prone – under pressure – to talk themselves out of being able to do as well as they are able.
And the talking of consequence is self-talk. Possibly with no one around to listen or to pick up on the development of negative thought patterns and their effects on study and preparation. Confidence about going into an exam and composure in the exam hall are the fall guys for unchecked poor self-talk.