Visualisation: A Powerful Tool for Academic Success I Oxford Open Learning


    Visualisation: A Powerful Tool for Academic Success

    Although you might not consider yourself to be a creative person, every human being is born with a powerful imagination. This is because our imagination serves an evolutionary purpose: it is designed to keep us alive. Our imagination allows us to creatively find solutions to problems by making up different scenarios in our mind. It kept early humans safe from predators and helped them to work out whether chasing prey was worth expending their energy. In a nutshell, this is visualisation.

    You can also harness the power of your imagination to study more effectively and achieve more. To get started, all you need to do is set a goal. Do you want to ace your English exam? Or maybe you want to revise for Science more effectively? However big or small the goal, here’s how to use visualisation to guarantee success.

    How to Visualise Success

    Now that you have a goal in mind, it’s time to sit down and use your imagination. In a place with minimal distractions, get yourself comfortable and close your eyes. If you want to visualise doing well in an exam, start by imagining yourself getting ready to walk into the exam hall. Focus on the details around you: the smell, the sights, the sounds of other students. Imagine yourself feeling confident because you know you’re about to do your best work.

    Next, tell yourself the complete story of the exam. Imagine sitting down and getting out your equipment, turning over the exam paper and reading the questions. All the time, remind yourself of how confident you look and feel. Don’t forget to visualise the end of the exam, too. Imagine yourself packing up and leaving the exam hall, knowing and believing that you’ve done a great job. Savour how good that feels.

    Why Visualisation Works

    Scientific research shows that when we visualise something, like the exam scene above, we actually create memories. Of course, these memories aren’t real because this event hasn’t happened, but your brain doesn’t know that. It treats the visualisation as though it has happened, exactly as you described it.

    Because your brain believes that you’ve already aced the exam, it will start to change the way you think and, over time, how you behave – but only if you keep practicing this visualisation. Keep going over and over it in your mind whenever you find yourself with some time to spare. By doing this, you will increase your focus, decrease your anxiety, boost your confidence and improve motor performance. And these are all the tools you need to study for and ace that exam!

    If you’re learning about visualisation for the first time, it’s normal to have some doubts about how effective it can be. But did you know that Jim Carrey used the power of visualisation to achieve his goal of earning $10 million? Find out how he did it here.

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    Kaye Jones is a teacher and freelance writer, with a passion for history and education.