Coping with Exam StressWritten by Bioharmony
Many South African university students are nearing the end of exams, with one or two left to go, while matrics across the country are bracing themselves for one of the most important exam seasons of their life so far.
By now you should have a solid review timetable in place with a good understanding of the work and a healthy knowledge of your weak and strong points within the syllabus. However, no matter how prepared you are, you might be struggling to cope with the stress of it all.
Remember that being prepared means revising the work as well as learning how to balance work, exercise and yes, even relaxation. Roger Mead, US Stress Management Consultant and General Secretary of the US International Stress Management Association says, “Stress is not about the exam, but about what you think of the exam. People shouldn’t see them as monsters they can’t escape.”
Below are some tips to help you cope with exams stress just before and during the actual exam:
Get enough sleep and relaxation
A tired mind will be no good to you during an exam, so don’t pull an all-nighter the night before. Make sure you get a good night’s rest. At least an hour before the exam, stop everything and make a point of winding down and relaxing. Your body will thank you – you will be better able to cope with the stress of the actual exam and produce your best work.
Get some exercise
An exercise session, whether it’s a 10-minute walk or a full on gym work out, will help your body feel more relaxed and focused.
Eat good food
Eat a healthy meal before the exam, including fruits and vegetables, proteins and healthy carbohydrates (not heavy carbohydrates like rice and potatoes – they will just make you sleepy!). This will ensure you have the energy to get through the exam and even concentrate better.
Manage your expectations and don’t let yourself fall into the trap of believing that anything less than an A+ is failure. You need to build your confidence and negative thinking will only pull you down. Try to avoid that stressed out friend – the one who gets too worked up about exams – because her stress is catchy.
At this stage in the game, we’re not talking about revision anymore. We’re talking about the actual exam – a last minute search for everything could create unnecessary panic. Make sure you have everything you need beforehand, such as your stationary, your exam number or student card, a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, etc.
Plan your time
Once you have the paper, start out by taking a quick look through the structure of the exam. Plan your approach – mark the questions that you know the answers to and complete them first. This will help boost your confidence, and a confidence booster in the exam is exactly what you need. Remember to leave some time at the end to carefully review and edit your answers.
If you find that you don’t know some of the answers, don’t let panic creep in. Focus on your breathing, remain calm, move to the next question and return to this one at a later stage if there is time.
Let it go
When you’re finished the exam, allow yourself at least a short moment of celebration. Don’t spend time debating answers with friends and stop analyzing your answers, trying to figure out where you went wrong – there’s nothing you can do at this stage except hope for the best.
Remember that these exams might seem like the most important thing in your life right now – but in years to come, you will see they are only a small part of your life. Try your best, work hard and concentrate, but don’t let them consume your very being.
And finally… Good luck!