Cheers! Beat My Fear Of Exams & Passed My WSET Level 1 Award!

Achieving Goals Outside Your Comfort Zone

For the past month I’ve been anxiously awaiting my results from the WSET exam, which I took back in November. I’d been studying the Level 1 Award for three weeks, at the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Headquarters in London.

Well, the wait is over dear readers and I’m thrilled to announce that I passed!

Passing this exam is a big deal for me, as I’ll go on to explain in a bit. And if you’re like me and panic at the thought of an exam, then keep reading!

We all have to do stuff we don’t like to do, but have to do it anyway. And for all most of us, that’s exams. It’s stressful, it’s time consuming and it’s just downright irritating.

Now, I’d always had a mental block when it came to exams. Ever since school, I’d take one look at the paper and my inner soul would be like:

It took me five times to pass my flipping driving theory test! And a whopping seven times to pass my practical. Throughout University I only sat one exam, my entire time there. That was in first year. I’d deliberately pick the modules that had coursework as the final assessment just so I wouldn’t have to sit an exam. That’s how much I feared it.

Now, I’m not saying that everyone loves exams, though each to their own. But for me, I felt like I just wouldn’t or couldn’t pass. Growing up, me and exams didn’t have a great history. Think Germany versus the world. And I also felt that an hour or a few, wasn’t enough to showcase what I could do. There was so much pressure and so many specifics you had to remember. Like how to answer a question and what kind of pen to use. * eye roll.*

And. I loved History but had to give it up, four months before my GCSE exams because the teacher straight up told my parents that I’d fail. It wasn’t the knowledge, they said I was excellent at that. It was the exams. I just… wasn’t getting it right.

Sitting my driving tests was the worst. Yes, tests. Plural. Seven times, to be specific. It felt like I was shoving my self-esteem in front of my car, during every test. Taking hit after hit after hit.

When I did eventually pass, it was a sweet, sweet reward! Afterwards, I was thrilled that I didn’t have to take another exam for… the rest of my life!

Fast forward five years, and then came the WSET qualification. I decided to take this course and gain a qualification in wine, because I wanted to add to my skillset. I also wanted to branch out my writing horizons and explore a different niche. As much as I love writing fiction and political prose, with my stories, plays and poems, this was something new I could tackle.

Except, in order to earn my qualification, I had to sit…an exam.

It was a closed book, multiple choice exam which we had an hour to complete. Knowing I had this as the final hurdle towards my goal, I had to make sure I knew as much as possible, to pass at least 70%. That was it. I didn’t care if I got 100 or anything like that. I’m not competing with anyone except myself.

So the weekend beforehand and in the morning of my exam, I knuckled down and pumped all the information I could into my brain…

I’d never had an examination in the evening before, this was a new experience. Fortunately I’d doped drank up on coffee just before, so I was wide awake! And the exam itself was a blur. Even though I messed up a question on port. I didn’t know if I’d passed or failed.

When I got home on the evening of the 11th of December, I had a brown envelope waiting for me. Ripping it open, I pulled out the certificate – my certificate and results. I’d passed! First time and with 83%! I was aiming for at least a 70 and ended up getting a higher mark, which meant I beat my own goal!

After repeatedly being mocked for doing resits, I didn’t have to do it this time. Proudly, I could look people in the eye and yell –

Guys. Never give up on trying to achieve your goals. And never think you’re incapable of doing something, just because someone told you, you can’t. x


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