First, Relaxation: A simple relaxation technique is to sit or lie quietly (relaxing amorphous music in the background is good) and begin by focusing on your breathing. Starting with the feet and ankles, then up the legs, the buttocks, back, shoulders, arms, neck, face, mouth, etc., tense each muscle then let go and invite it to relax. Breath is key. Breathe slowly and regularly and say “relax” with every exhalation. Let breaths start in the abdomen. Do this for at least five minutes. Then awaken your whole “sensorium” by imagining, in the room you will visualize doing your GRE study in, a sound (e.g., rustling papers), a physical sensation (e.g., softness of a chair on body), a smell (e.g., some flowers or fresh air), a taste (e.g., recent tooth brushing) and a sight (e.g., a picture on the wall). While called “visualization,” be present with all senses as much as possible.
Study Visualization: Note the use of affirmations throughout the visualizations that you can then continue to use as you actually study or take the test. Proceed with the visualization…First see yourself studying effectively; look forward to your next study session. See all the details of the place you have chosen to study. Notice that all distractions have been avoided or cleared away. Glance at your watch or clock and note that it is time to start studying. Tell yourself, “I budget my time wisely. ” Sit down and layout your books and notes. Get everything you need before you in logical order. Tell yourself, “I have everything I need.” Before you start studying, watch yourself close your eyes and takeseveral deep breaths. You are relaxing and clearing your mind so that you can focus your attention. Tell yourself, “I can concentrate completely on the job at hand.” Imagine that you are reading from notes or prep book. After each important point, you stop and quiz yourself. Every couple of pages you pause, paraphrase, and reflect. Tell yourself, “I review until I get it right. ” Imagine working steadily, with keen interest and good concentration. Then imagine yourself getting bogged down. You are confused or discouraged, anxious or distracted. Imagine stopping the study session and getting up for a walk around the room. Look out a window or do a couple of deep knee bends. Close your eyes again and breathe deeply to relax and clear your mind. Then see yourself resuming work with renewed energy and confidence. Tell yourself, “When / get bogged down, I stop and recharge my batteries. ” If you have planned a special reward for after the studying, see yourself enjoying the ice cream or the movie or whatever.
Positive self-statements to inject into all the visualizations above and below (and to use in all study andtesting:
- “I am a good student”
- “I am relaxed, calm, alert and confident for testing”
- “I am accomplishing my goals”
- ”I am capable; I have confidence in myself. “
(See yourself out of your own eyes, or see from a viewing perspective.) As you go into the test, you notice that you are feeling calm. Find your seat at the computer stall and look around. Fix the details of the room in your mind. You see a light glowing “cocoon” around yourself screening out any anxiety from other test takers. As you wait to begin the test, let yourself feel a little fear. Feel the butterflies in your stomach, the racing heart, the sweaty palms, and so on. Then imagine closing your eyes and taking a long, slow, deep breath. Tell yourself, “As I breathe out, the nervousness flows away. I remain calm and relaxed. ” See and experience a relaxed, satisfied face as you test. Start the test feeling calm. Work steadily through the test, making good progress and not worrying about the time or about questions you’re doubtful about. When you get stumped, imagine the white paper in your mind and see the answer typed there. Tell yourself, “I avoid panic. I easily recall what I’ve studied. ” Other useful affirmations: “Breathe deeply and read the question again. ” “I’ve got plenty of time. ” “I can relax at will and get back to work. ” “When my mind becomes calm, the answer becomes obvious. “If you don’t know an answer, you take a deep breath and go on to the next question. You relax and remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect to do well. Finish the test confidently. You receive your score on math and verbal and are satisfied that it has met your goals. Leave the room feeling relieved and confident. Prepare to receive the reward you had promised your inner child who has now patiently waited for you to finish.
Visualization of Beyond the Test: See yourself receiving a letter of acceptance to your desired institution. Then see and experience yourself wearing your cap and gown, reaching out for your diploma. Bask in the admiring, proud gaze of your family and friends. See yourself reporting for the first day’s work in your exciting new job based on your degree. Then look on the wall of your upgraded residence to see the framed Master’s or Doctor’s degree.
See and experience how fulfilled and proud you’ll feel after accomplishing your goal.