Arts Blog, fine example of an upstanding young citizen that it is, has been compared to many things in its time.
Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons Daniel Craig as James Bond in that bit where he comes out of the sea wearing nothing but a pair of tight-fitting, (and, frankly, sodden) swimming trunks is just one comparison that springs immediately to mind, whilst Arts Blog’s Auntie Pam once said Arts Blog was a bit like ‘that nice man off the telly – you know the one’.
Arts Blog never got to the bottom of who Auntie Pam was referring to, but the sensible money would be on Paul Daniels, as Arts Blog had just done a card trick at the time the remark was made, and Auntie Pam is a professed Paul Daniels fan. Amongst the myriad comparisons, though, one just keeps on cropping up: time and time again, Arts Blog finds itself likened to a ticking clock. Perhaps it is the reputation for almost metronomic punctuality that Arts Blog has fostered for itself over years and years of expert time-management; perhaps it is Arts Blog’s uncanny ability to guess the time to within two hours’ accuracy with only the slightest help from nearby church spires, or perhaps it is the odd ticking noise that emanates from Arts Blog wherever it goes (Arts Blog must get a professional to look into that).
Whatever the reason, the comparison stands – and, consequently, Arts Blog would like to apologise. It is sure that its devoted devotees (where’s a thesaurus when you need one?) have become accustomed to the latest offering landing with a plop in the middle of their collective desks at precisely 1, 3, 5 or sometimes 9 o’clock on exactly the 1st, 4th, 7th or sometimes 12th of the month, and so the delay to this month’s edition will come as something of a shock. Arts Blog can only offer its sincerest regrets.
However, the good news is that the wait has no doubt been worthwhile, for Arts Blog has been using the extra time
to build a scale model of St Paul ’s Cathedral out of Milk Chocolate Buttons and then eat it to put all its efforts into making this latest submission it’s finest to date! The title? ‘How to Handle Your Nerves – Top Tips’ (or ‘Get a Grip’).
How to Handle Your Nerves (or Get a Grip) – Top Tips as brought to you by Arts Blog
For those of you that have successfully followed all the advice that Arts Blog has been chucking haphazardly (but remarkably punctually) in your direction, the time will fast be approaching to embark on the next stage of the process: preparation for interviews. This will, for many, be a whole new skill set, and one that brings with it many challenges, not least of which is quite simply how to conduct yourself in a stressful situation. Arts Blog, having got itself into many a stressful situation in its time – more often than not through its own doing, but sometimes just by sheer bad luck – hopes to be able to provide some guidance.
Top Tip Number 1 – Practice
Arts Blog cannot stress this enough: get some practice. Your school may well offer practice sessions for this. If it does, sign up and sign up as many times as you can. If it doesn’t, ask a teacher to conduct an interview with you and give you feedback, or ask your parents if they will do the same. You will be amazed at the difference that you feel once you’re sat in the hot seat. You can be extremely confident with your material, and have no problem expressing yourself in the classroom or with your friends, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get inexplicably tongue-tied in an interview scenario. The only way to avoid this is to get experience doing it, so by the time the real interview comes along (and it’ll be scarier than the practice ones) you have some idea what to expect.
Top Tip Number 2 – Self-Analysis
Once you’ve organised and undergone these mock interviews, make sure you use the practice to positive ends. It is very easy to sink into bemoaning your perceived failures, and turning the whole experience into a negative and self-defeating one. Of course you are going to fail: you’ve never done anything like it before, and it’s difficult, so don’t worry if you’re not a genius first time around. You will have done some things very well, and some things less well – hold on to the positives and be aware that they are in your armoury, and look on the negatives as ‘areas for improvement’ rather than failures. You can only get better if you approach the process of practicing with the right attitude. No pianist ever played Rachmaninov perfectly the first time around, but the brilliant ones kept at it until they could.
Top Tip Number 3 – Know Your Stuff
Obvious one this. Try to know about the stuff that you’ve said you know about. The biggest fear that interviewees tend to have is that they will be asked a question that they don’t know the answer to. The first simple step in overcoming this fear is to know the answers to the questions. Arts Blog isn’t being entirely facetious: if stuff is on your Personal Statement, then make sure you know it, and know it in a lot of detail. By doing that, you significantly reduce the chances of being caught out, and give yourself a huge amount of material to turn to should any tricky questions come up. There are lots of reasons why you might not get into Oxbridge, but being caught out on a lack of knowledge because you haven’t done the reading is undoubtedly the one that will get you kicking yourself the hardest.
Top Tip Number 4 – Change Your Approach
If you find that you get extremely nervous in an interview situation, it is very possibly because you are visualising the nature of the interview in an unhelpful way. Don’t think of it as a test. If you do, then you are constantly plagued by the fear of failure, and – perhaps more importantly – you will find it harder to relax, as you will worry about doing the right thing in order to ‘pass’. Visualise it as a conversation instead. You will be meeting some people who share your passions, and you have the chance to chat to them about those passions for half an hour or so. It’s a wonderful opportunity, so you can relax and enjoy it. By approaching it in this way, you will maximise your chances of showing yourself at your natural, relaxed best.
Top Tip Number 5 – Give Yourself Time
Nerves make you rush, and you can’t be at your best in a hurry. Careful, considered, intelligent thought takes time, so give yourself the time to think it. If you are thrown a tricky question, or you are struggling to coherently form an answer, then take a minute, take a breath and start again. The admissions tutors would far rather wait for a minute and hear an interesting response than hear some gibberish straight away.
So there you have it. Arts Blog may have huffed and even, dare it say it, been heard to utter forth the slightest of puffs, but we got there in the end. Now if you’ll excuse Arts Blog for a month or so, it has to go and
test the how many minutes to boil tortellini for before attempting to construct a model of the Eiffel Tower out of it do lots of research and hard work about important-sounding things and also go to meetings and conferences.