9 Shakespeare quotes to inspire you as your start your HKDSEs

  • On World Book Day, look to classics like 'Hamlet' and 'Macbeth' for inspiration
  • Playwright William Shakespeare and 'Don Quixote' writer Miguel de Cervantes both died on April 23, 1616, so the day is marked as a celebration of literature
Karly Cox |

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What's your favourite Shakespeare play?

April 23 is celebrated every year as World Book Day, honouring both the playwright William Shakespeare and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, who both died on April 23, 1616.

But this year, it also marks the beginning of the public exam period, with the first HKDSE (Visual Art) taking place on the date itself, and the first IB paper (Language B) taking place on April 29.

For those about to start their exams, we salute you. And we offer you some wise words form the Bard himself. Here are nine quotes from Shakespeare’s plays to motivate you as you begin your journey.

Quotes from books and movies that will inspire you

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – Hamlet

Ignoring the context of the play, this is a reminder that our perception of a situation can be powerful, and we can often reframe a problem just by thinking differently about it.

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” – Measure for Measure

It’s easy to get in your head, and risk not accomplishing something because you’re afraid to try. Believe in yourself.

More than 400 years later, we can still look to the Bard as a source of inspiration.
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” – Merry Wives of Windsor

Good life advice in general, but particularly relevant when you have an exam. Maybe three hours is a bit of an exaggeration, but do NOT be late. You can sit outside or in a coffee shop and go over your notes if you’re an hour early. You can’t make up for time if you miss the start.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Hamlet

We’re not suggesting you make jokes in your exam essays. But we do recommend not writing things just for the sake of it. Get to the

“Things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear.” – Henry VIII

If you’re well prepared, and take care with your exam answers, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Movies that will inspire you to live your best life

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – Hamlet

Live in the present. Who knows what the future may hold, so don’t dwell.

“What’s done can’t be undone." – Macbeth

OK, so Lady Macbeth is talking about having done some pretty dark stuff, but she has a point. Once you’ve finished your paper and handed it in, don’t think about it. It’s done. Move on.

Our favourites on World Book Day

“Make not your thoughts your prisons.” – Antony and Cleopatra

Don’t let the fears and doubts in your mind hold you back.

“Come what may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day.” – Macbeth

What’s going to happen is going to happen, and even the worst days will end – so hang in there!

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