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Positive thinking can help improve grades (5 tips)

    Let’s get straight to point. Positive thinking is good for health. And if it leads to resilience against disease, then that can correlate with exam performance.

    On that note, ever seen someone who is an extreme pessimist or someone who is very sick trimuph in an exam? I have not either.

    For a student who has an important exam coming up, you’d grab every advantage to get ahead. And here’s 5 things I have my students practice as they head into their exams.

    Positive thinking: (1) realise how negative we are by default

    Every year, I do this simple exercise where I ask my students to volunteer for a simple activity so that I can show them how negative they are.

    I then go on to tell them it will be harmless and there will not be any shaming.

    More importantly, they will end the exercise with a big smile on their face.

    Expectantly, majority of students do not believe me and avert my gaze as I plead on.

    Finally, a brave soul comes up after an uncomfortable silence.

    Only to find out that I am passing him/her money, with no strings attached.

    I have just proven my point and that also leaves the rest aghast at their negativity and what it cost them.

    Whether it is people around us or ourselves, we are awash with negativity so much so that it has become the default.

    According to Dr Alison it takes effort to pull oneself out of the negativity.

    Positive thinking: (2) daily gratitude ritual

    Look at those who are successful. And you don’t have to look far to see that they incorporate some form of daily gratitude ritual.

    I do it myself too. Every morning, one of the first things I do is to think and feel the happiness from the 3 things I am grateful for.

    My students also adopt the same daily ritual. And when they return the next week, many rave about the positive effects.

    From improving relationships with parents, to more productive study periods. And when they come to the class more positive, that fuels their desire to learn and do better for themselves.

    As such, it creates a positive feedback loop.

    By the way did you hear about one of my student Nicholas Chan, the first ITE student to gain admissions into medical school?

    Even though his first start in education is full of adversity, his positive demeanour continues to bring him success.

    Positive thinking: (3) the glass is half full exercise

    In many situations even though things aren’t so positive, it can still turn out to be a glass half-full instead of half-empty situation.

    So I teach my students to do this at the end of the day. Recount something negative that transpired earlier. Then think what is positive about the experience.

    Over time this encourages one to become more resilient to negative thoughts.

    And then begin to find opportunities in adversity.

    Positive thinking: (4) I am excited!

    The Singaporean version of the A levels is HARD and leaves many anxious.

    This is a positive thinking trick that my students use during exams.

    When they start feeling anxious, they think to themselves to be excited instead. Then go to explain to themselves why they are excited.

    The rational is that even though the biological effects of both states are the same, whereas anxiety has a more negative connotation, excitement is the opposite.

    Those who tried this simple technique realise it snaps them out of negativity very quickly.

    Not only that and most importantly, they then channel the energy towards problem solving rather than have it overwhelm them instead.

    Here’s 2 journalist from the Atlantic who investigated the phenomenon further and reported on their experience.

    (5) Power to the group!

    Because the A levels is so challenging, it is really easy for the mind to derail going at it alone.

    That’s why in my classes, I get my students to band together.

    When the group comes together, support and help each other, each individual member benefits.

    They do so by producing the hormone, oxytocin.

    This in turn make the person more resilient to stress.

    Hence, it is also easier for individuals to enter into positive thinking frame of mind.

    In fact I am so happy knowing that many continue to be friends even after graduation even till this day. Since starting out in my class as strangers coming in from different schools and backgrounds.

    This is also the very reason why I encourage students to join my H2 BIO tuition group classes rather than 1-1.


    I hope you enjoy these 5 pointers on how to get into positive thinking.

    Do you have any tips of your own? Let me know!

    Finally, let me know if this has been useful.

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    Morning routine for A students
    How to take good notes in class
    Sleeping your way to optimal learning
    Study productivity and diffuse learning
    Foods that boost learning or exam prep
    Positive thinking can help improve grades
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    Handphone use in classrooms: how it works against learning
    Exam Strategies
    The exam diet
    Boost A level performance
    Goal setting for exam success
    Solution to exam-taking anxiety
    Spaced repetitions and exam success
    How to remember everything for exams
    Find motivation during exam preparation
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