A Brief Meditation to Play for Students Before Their Final Exam

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Elizabeth Catanese is an Associate Professor of English and Humanities at Community College of Philadelphia. Trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction, Elizabeth has enjoyed incorporating mindfulness activities into her college classroom for over ten years. Elizabeth works to deepen her mindful awareness through writing children's books, cartooning and parenting her energetic twin toddlers, Dylan and Escher.



My colleague Kate Sanchez and I are currently working on a new YouTube channel, Present-Minded Professors, which contains meditations, activities and other musings to help educators and students build awareness skills for academic success. Kate and I like to think of mindfulness as a process of noticing what is going on in the body and the mind, and we feel that this awareness can especially help students be more present for their final exams and therefore do their best work.

Here is a guided meditation for final exams to play for students. It contains a brief introduction to the practice and a meditation focused on getting one’s mind and body ready immediately before taking an exam. You can pull it up on YouTube on your phone at high volume, or you can play it on a SmartBoard. If time is a consideration, pick a short piece of the meditation to play for students, or simply give students the link to the meditation so they can listen before they come into the exam room. Do what feels comfortable for you!

I always find it hard to do anything “extra” during exam time, but if you have metaphorical bandwidth, the text of the meditation is at the end of this blog post. You can feel free to modify it to suit your needs and your voice and then lead your students in the meditation.

As Kate and I build our YouTube channel, we would also love your feedback, especially about topics for the videos you would like to see! Feel free to comment below or in the comments section of Present-Minded Professors on YouTube.

Wishing you a meaningful end-of-semester!


A Meditation for Final Exams

Hello everyone. This is Elizabeth Catanese from Present-Minded Professors. 

I’m here right now to provide you with a brief meditation to help prepare your mind and body for the final exam you are about to take.

Please engage with this meditation in whatever way feels helpful to you. You do not have to be good at meditation to benefit from this practice. Please see all directions as suggestions. For example, when I suggest that you close your eyes, do so only if that feels possible and comfortable.

The goal of this meditation is to get your body and mind ready to take the exam. Maybe you have some extra anxious energy that is not serving you. Maybe you are a bit too calm for the task ahead. When I was taking exams, I used to be so anxious that my palms would sweat and my legs would bounce up and down. We all handle exams differently. Through this meditation you will become aware of where you are. How you are feeling is okay. 

Let’s begin! 

Take a deep breath and exhale. If you are comfortable doing so, close your eyes.

Take a moment to notice how you feel in this moment. You may be excited and anxious. You might feel ready and annoyed that that test is not in your hands right in this moment. Simply notice. How you feel right now is valid. 

Take another deep breath and exhale.

What does your body need right now? If you think it would help, wiggle your fingers. Stretch your arms above your head. Notice how you feels. Is there a way you could move your body right now that would help it feels it’s best? Do so now. 

Take note of the energy in the room. Relax your body for a moment and in your head give good wishes to those around you. 

Take another deep breath. And exhale. As the final part of this practice, please come up with an affirmation to say to yourself if you get stuck during your exam. Say it in your head a few times. For example, I often say “I am brave and capable.” And many people like “I can do this.” Take a moment to think of one unique to you. 

At this point, there is no more studying left to do for this class. It is time to show what you remember, what and how you think.

I would like to extend my congratulations to you for getting this far. To get to the point of a final exam takes a lot of hard work and effort. I see and applaud your effort. Your progress is beautiful.

Take a final deep breath and exhale. If you feel comfortable, open your eyes. 

It is now time to take your final exam.

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