Priming for Success

I was incredibly nervous to take my final exam this past semester at NYU. I hadn't taken an exam in well...15 years??!! I studied like crazy, and I was still sweating and shaking the morning of the exam.

From Saturday Night Live

From Saturday Night Live

The test was in a huge lecture hall in the Stern School of Business at NYU.  It was quite intimidating. But, because this was the Science of Happiness class, our professors managed to "pump us up" before the exam.  

We learned in SOH that priming ones mind with positive emotions can actually increase the capacity to learn and be mentally productive.  So, before the test started, the professors got us all pumped up by inviting a dancer from the Tisch School to do a dance performance.  He was incredible, and got everyone on their feet dancing and yelling. Then the professors shouted out, "let's all take the test now!"  Everyone yelled, "YEAH!!"  I mean....pretty freaking incredible right?

Also while I was taking the test, the professor was going up and down the aisle giving encouragements.  For me he said, "looks like everything is right, Ilse!" 

It seems like such a simple concept that tests, or any stressful situation should be encouraged with a positive primer. I remember taking tests in school with mean, grouchy, and intimidating professors, who seemed to almost wish we did poorly. Needless to say, I didn't do that well on them. 

My daughters had exams this past week.  One night, my older daughter was super stressed about an exam.  I explained to her that she needed to be primed first with positive emotions.  She thinks I'm nuts, but went along with it anyway. So she put on her favorite song, and we started to dance. It was fun, and seemed to calm her down. She did very well on her exam by the way.  Oh and if your wondering, I got a 103% on my final.  Very happy about it indeed....