I always flounder at the crucial moment

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a woman in my late teens. I’m worried that I can’t do things well at crucial moments.

I’m always nervous on occasions such as taking university entrance examinations.

As a result, I can’t answer the questions as smoothly as I want to. In the moment, I’m distracted by the sounds around me more than usual. I also feel so muddled that I can’t understand the meanings of English sentences in examination questions.

And after I take a test on one subject, I feel disappointed that I didn’t do well and brood over it. It distracts me from preparing for the next test, making me irritated once again. It results in a vicious cycle.

I don’t feel nervous at practice examinations and can get good results in many cases. It makes me all the more frustrated when I can’t use my brain and move my hands in real examinations, always doing worse than expected.

Over the past year I’ve trained to boost my concentration under circumstances similar to those of real examinations by frequently studying in places where people are around and taking as many practice examinations as possible. Sadly, these efforts haven’t worked well.

Please tell me how I can acquire the willpower to do well on real examinations.

I, Kagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. I:

You’re worried you can’t fully show your level of ability in real examinations and you have continually made efforts to overcome your weakness, for as long as a year.

Unfortunately, your efforts failed to produce good results. It means you may need to review your approach to this matter.

For example, because you think you need to get used to the atmosphere of examination venues, you intentionally study in noisy places to boost your concentration. You need to change your viewpoint on this slightly.

In my experience, when I’m writing something and can’t concentrate on the work, it means I have yet to get a definite idea about the subject and therefore haven’t decided what to write.

Once I can hammer out a direct course of action, I’m no longer bothered by any noise. If the critically important matter is to answer questions in examinations, take time to work out questions in examination preparation guidebooks and similar materials many times so you immediately know how to solve these questions upon seeing them.

We all have weak points. We don’t easily notice them. If we do notice them, we tend to make excuses and dodge them. But you didn’t do that. That’s commendable.

People who won’t give up and continue making efforts ultimately live a satisfactory life. I wish you good luck.

Masami Ohinata, professor

(from May 1, 2016, issue)Speech

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