With exams around the corner and piles of topics to study a little exam stress in inevitable. But don’t let the stress gulp you up and hinder your studies. Here are some handy tips on how to manage your anxiety before exams, during exams and even after them.
Avoid panic. Exam nerves are natural but panicking will only make things worse and you may not be able to think clearly. Stressing can hinder your performance as a whole.
Stay positive: Believe in yourself. If you prepare for your exams properly you should do fine. Your teachers have worked hard to make sure you have studied everything you need to for the exam. Positive thinking boosts your confidence and that in turn helps you perform well.
Don’t bottle things up:
If the exams are making you feel worried or depressed, talk to your friends, your parents/guardians or your teachers. Don’t bottle things up. You are not the only one to feel worried about exams – we have all been there. Remember, everyone reacts in different ways to exams.
Keep things in perspective:
Exams might seem like the most important thing you have to focus on right now, but they are only a small part of your life. There are thousands of successful people who didn’t do as well as they wanted in their exams. It’s great to do well but remember that you can only do your best and that is what your teachers and your parents/guardians ask from you.
Plan Plan Plan!!!
You should know when your exams will be so work out a plan or timetable for study. If you don’t know when the exams are, speak to your teachers or your examinations officer. Make sure you leave plenty of time to revise so that you don’t have to cram at the last minute. If you plan you will become more confident and will be better prepared for your exams.
Study approach :
Plan your approach to studying. There are many different ways to study. Some people prefer to study in silence, some like to work in the library and others prefer to work at home. Some people like to make short notes, others prefer to mix topics/subjects. Students have also found that using key words, memory aids and practicing exam questions helps them prepare. Wherever you choose to study make sure you have plenty of room to set out your notes and books so you are organised. Pick the approach that best suits you.
Rest and relaxation:
Make sure you allow yourself time for fun and relaxation away from where you are studying so that you avoid exhaustion. Include regular breaks into your study plan or timetable and make sure you get enough exercise and sleep to keep yourself relaxed and refreshed. If you exercise you will be able to sleep better and you will wake up refreshed in the morning. If you feel you are starting to lose concentration, take a short break. Research shows that taking breaks will help your brain to learn and remember things and also lengthen your concentration. You are not wasting time by taking some time out to relax from your studies but are helping yourself to work more effectively.
Ask for help:
If you don’t understand something, ask your friends, parents/guardians or your teacher for help. You may find that you can help a classmate in something they don’t understand – you may be able to help each other. Don’t stress yourself but take action to find out answers to problems.
Use revision paper:
You can use revision papers to prepare mock exam answers which will help you focus your revision. They will also help you get used to the way questions are asked and how they should be answered. The more you practice, the more confident you will become.
Eat and drink well:
Fizzy drinks, tea and coffee contain caffeine and will hinder you from thinking clearly. You can keep your mind active by eating healthily and regularly. If you don’t drink enough fluids you could end up dehydrating yourself and this can lead to headaches, tiredness and poor concentration. On the morning of an exam, make sure you eat breakfast. Go for something like wholegrain cereals like bran, egg, toast which are slow energy burners.
Study away from distractions:
Make sure you have a quiet area to study with no distractions. Turn the television off. Don’t fall into the trap of watching one program and then starting your study. You will quickly find that it’s time to go to bed when you are about to turn off the television. This will only knock your studying back and cause you stress and anxiety.
Prepare everything you need for the exam:
The night before the exam, make sure you have your calculator (if needed), your pens and pencils, your admission card and a watch so you can monitor the time during the exam. Your teacher or your examinations officer can advise you on what you are allowed to take into each examination.
Exam day rush:
Instead of trying to learn new topics on the day of the exam, look over your notes/key points. Don’t leave yourself short of time on the day of an exam. Work out how you are getting to the exam and make sure you have plenty of time to get there so that you are not rushed. If you have time, you may want to find a quiet place to relax rather than waiting outside the examination center with the accompanying noise and tension from your classmates.
DURING THE EXAM
Take deep breaths:
Taking several long, slow, deep breaths will help to calm you down and help you feel more relaxed. Tell yourself that you are calm and that you will do well. Remember positive thinking helps!
Reading instructions and questions:
Make sure you read each question carefully and listen to instructions given by the invigilators. Read the front of the exam paper which has important information on what questions you are required to answer and how many marks are awarded. Ask an invigilator if you are unsure.
Staying in control:
If your mind goes blank, don’t panic! Panicking will just make it harder for you to remember what you learnt. Everyone panics. Put your pen down and go back to taking several long, slow, deep breaths until you feel more relaxed again. Try to stop any negative thoughts and keep telling yourself you can do it. If you find that you are stuck on a question, take a deep breath, move on to the next question and come back to the other question later when you have more time to concentrate on difficult questions. Do not waste all of your time on one question when there are others you could easily answer.
AFTER THE EXAM
If you found part of an exam difficult, don’t panic or get annoyed. You are not the only one. You will only know how you did when you get the results. You may be surprised! Exams are mostly about technique and the more you do, the better you get. Yes, exams are important but if things don’t go as you had planned you have so many options open to you. Remember, you did the best you could and no one can blame you on that. Stop wasting time criticizing yourself for where you think you went wrong.
Plan your next steps:
Work with you parents/guardians and your teachers to look at the options open to you. You may decide to go into the world of work or you may decide to continue studying at either University, your school or at a college of further and higher education. Find out everything you need to know and talk through it with your teachers and family. Remember that schools, colleges and Universities have open days and many have information on their websites that might help you. You can also talk to careers advisers in your school.