Almost everyone feels nervous before an exam. Butterflies in the stomach and worrying thoughts – ‘Will I be able to answer the questions?’ ‘Have I done enough revision?’ – are indications of exam stress that are probably familiar to all students. In fact, a certain amount of nervous tension probably helps us perform to the best of our ability, producing a rush of adrenaline that helps us to feel alert and focused. But too much anxiety can BLOCK thoughts, create a negative frame of mind, and lead to panic and potentially poor exam performance.
There are a number of things you can do to help manage exam stress and turn uncomfortable, panicky thoughts into more eased procedure.
1. Avoid stressful people.
Stress actually is contagious. During exam week, resist the urge to have a study session with your super-tense friend, especially if she’s complaining about all the work she has to do and breaking pencils all over the place. Her stress will only add to your stress.
2. Eat healthy and exercise.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a wonder how many people forget it. Skip the sugar, which will make you crash, and go for snacks like granola bars, healthy cereal or fruits and veggies to keep your blood sugar stable. If you’re studying for a long period of time, eat some protein too. Also, try to get some form of exercise. Even a 10 minute walk will leave you calmer and more focused.
3. Being organised
If you find out exactly what you’re facing, you can work out a plan for dealing with it, and this will go a long way towards putting your mind at ease. Get hold of the right information from the start. Make sure you know how you will be examined, and what you’ll be examined on. If you can, get a copy of the syllabus. Catch up with anything you’ve missed, so that you’ve got all your notes up to date.
4. Plan a timetable
Try to start your revision in plenty of time. Take time to plan a revision timetable that’s realistic and still flexible, and linked to your exam timetable, so you revise subjects in the right order. In planning it, give yourself clear priorities and try to balance your revision with other demands on your time – meals, sleep, chores or other commitments, as well as time for relaxing. Identify your best time of day for studying.
5. Force yourself to take breaks.
For every hour or so that you work, take a 10 or 15 minute break. Let yourself do whatever you want (check Facebook, check out that guy sitting nearby, stare off into space, call a friend, etc.) for those 10-15 mins, then start working again. This gives your brain a little rest and will help keep you more focused when you are actually doing work.
6. Visualize it all going right.
Imagine yourself taking the test and feeling confident that you know all the information. Picture getting all of the answers right, and focus on how relaxed you feel. Then picture the A on your test paper. When you imagine a happy ending, that’s often what happens, because you make the decisions that lead to it without even realizing.
7. If you’ve studied all you can, get up your confidence!
When test-time rolls around, it’s time to get you into confidence mode. You’ve prepared as much as you could, and now it’s time to ace the test. The tip here is to do whatever works to convince yourself you are going to do really well. Again, I know this tip sounds a little crazy but you just have to try it for yourself. I think you’ll like the results.
Plan well and have a good sleep to face the exams. All the best.