Exams are a crucial part of education and the source of stress for many students. In order to avoid crippling anxiety from these pesky evaluations, it is important to approach them with a clear mind and an understanding of how to deal with stressful situations more broadly. In many cases, exam stress is all in the mind, and mental discipline is a large part of what is needed to succeed.
PART I – PREPARATION FOR THE EXAMS
1. Know what is expected of you. Be sure to consult your syllabus or ask your instructor what material you will be responsible for. If you have a concrete sense of what you will be tested on, the future exam will feel less vague and more like something you can handle.
2. Study in conditions similar to your exam room. There is a phenomenon in psychology called context-dependent memory. It refers to the idea that we are best able to remember things in environments similar to when the information was encoded . A related phenomenon is called state-dependent memory, which means that our memory is better when we learn and retrieve information in similar bodily states.
3. Take notes in class. Do not just rely on your memory or your course book. Take your class time seriously by taking notes summarizing what your teacher has said. If you are feeling exam stress, you can review your notes; this will help you remember things that happened in class that you didn’t even take notes on, further giving you a sense of mastery over your material.
4. Manage your time wisely. Do not just cram for an exam last minute; this will surely lead to exam stress. Break up your study time into chunks over days, or weeks even. When you “chunk” your study time over the course of a longer period of time, such as a few days or weeks, you will retain more of the information.
5. Know where you study best. Think about the kinds of factors that allow you to be most comfortable and relaxed as you prepare for your exam. When setting up a dedicated study space.
6. Take frequent breaks. According to psychology studies, the average human brain can only focus on one task effectively for about 45 minutes. In addition, research in neuroscience suggests that focusing on the same thing for too long diminishes the brain’s ability to accurately process it.
7. Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Aim for at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day. Not drinking enough water can make you feel sluggish and stressed.
8. Reward your achievements, no matter how small. If you are feeling stressed about an exam, be sure to reward yourself for your study time. This will motivate you to continue studying and may even reduce stress.
9. Exercise. Regular aerobic exercise can relieve stress, so if you find yourself a nervous wreck before an exam, go for a run or hit the gym.
10. Eat healthy foods. When you eat unhealthy foods it can make you feel negative, which can interfere with your exam preparation. Therefore, it is important to eat right if you want to have the best odds of doing well on your exam and not stressing about it.
11. Get enough sleep. Not getting a full night’s rest can contribute to feelings of fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
12. Ask yourself whether you have a learning disability. It may be the case that you have something like other learning disability that impairs your ability to perform well on an exam. This may be stressing you out but know that schools often have resources to help you excel in school.
IF YOU ARE FACING A PROBLEM ON THE EXAM SAY STRESS, PLEASE READ MY NEXT ARTICLE (AS PART II) OR CLICK HERE