If there’s one thing that will derail a student’s exam hopes, it’s falling victim to pre-exam anxiety. As the date of the first exam looms, uncontrolled panic can undo even the most thorough of revision in double-quick time. It’s for this reason that each year I like to share my favourite exam stress busters.
The first stress-buster is time. While the ticking away of time is one of the key stressors, we start the exam process with plenty of it! Making the most of the available time to ensure regular and structured revision is vital to keeping a cool head. The sooner you start to revise the sooner you’ll know the areas that need additional focus and those areas where you’ve got it covered.
Quality over quantity is something I recommend at all examination levels. It’s about what you put in to the hours and not the hours you put in. And candidly, nobody can fully concentrate for hours on end. It is far better to sit down for a block of time with a clear goal of what one wishes to accomplish and get to it. If it takes an extra few minutes, so be it. If you need more than an additional 15 minutes, simply stop at a logical point and reset later. This is far more productive and calming than trying to cram everything in.
Variety is key in keeping the mind fresh. Get up, get outside and get a change of scenery. Leave your studies and simply do something else. When you return for your next session, you’ll feel fresh and focus will be easier to achieve.
Staying clear of the stress of others is a top tip for keeping oneself in the zone. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the hysteria of other people’s experience. Remember, everyone has the same number of hours per day, and while commitments and environments will inevitably vary, it’s down to the individual to manage their time. A little forethought will go a long way here.
Without a plan, cramming will ensue, and this will likely result in lots of late nights. Apart from cramming providing less than optimal revision, a lack of rest both undoes the information that you’ve tried to digest, as well as impacting the next day with fatigue. During high pressure times, it’s vital to get a decent night’s sleep.
Lastly, one shouldn’t underestimate the power of diet and fluid intake. It’s no secret that junk food or meals extremely high in carbohydrates can make us feel sluggish. Keeping our meals light and relatively healthy can have a positive effect on our ability to concentrate. It’s also vital to drink plenty of fluids and while it can be tempting to load up on energy drinks, I believe it doesn’t get much better than good old water.
Having said all that, it’s important to give yourself a reward and to treat yourself. A little of what you fancy does you good, as the saying goes!