ON DEALING WITH EXAM STRESS
Students who aim high often experience exam stress. Stress arises because of peer competition, high expectations from others, lack of planning and preparation, and low motivation levels. Whatever the reason may be, stress is an unavoidable aspect of student life. However, you need to remember that stress exists for a cause. You can either use it wisely to drive yourself to improve your performance, or choose to let it ruin your potential. If you want to use your stress positively, you need to pause, analyze, choose a way, and then proceed. This article provides quality information on beating exam stress, and directing yourself to be successful in your exams.
When do you face exam stress?
There are three different phases during which you experience exam stress. These include the exam preparation period, the exam day, during the exam, and post exam period. We have outlined the ways by which you can beat stress during each of these periods.
PREPARING FOR YOUR EXAMS
- Know your exam portions: When you have the right idea on what your exam will be on, you will be clear and confident about the forthcoming exam. If you are unsure about your exam portion, ask your teacher. But before you proceed to ask your teacher, go through your syllabus and other prior given information. Your teacher definitely will not be pleased about your making inquiries when the exam portion has already been specified in the syllabus.
- Let your study room bear the atmosphere of your exam hall: A psychological phenomenon called context-dependant memory says that one is best able to recall concepts in environments similar to that of the information imbibing period. For example, if you have cup of coffee while memorizing a particular concept, you are more likely to remember it better while drinking a cup of coffee. You can use this evidence-backed idea to maximize your score in exams.
- Take notes during class: It is advised that you should not rely only on your course book and memory. You should take notes when your teacher teaches in class. Going through these notes when you are feeling the buildup of exam stress can alleviate stress. You will be surprised when you will also be recalling even those things that you haven’t taken notes in. This will further intensify your sense of mastery over your material. While taking notes, instead of jotting down the dictation, concentrate on noting only the key points. Go through your notes on a weekly basis to learn the material and transmit to your long-term memory. This will prepare you better for your exam.
- Manage your time wisely: Don't wait until the last minute of your exam. Plan and prepare well ahead of time- over weeks would be better. When you split your study time over a longer course of time, it is likely that you will retain more information better. The context-dependant memory is applicable here too- studying around the same time of your exam works!
- Find out which location best suits your study mood: Carry out a study of what kind of factors make you relaxed and comfortable while you prepare for your exam. Analyze your preferred level of light in the room: Some study well with bright light, while for others dimmer light suits. Decide whether you prefer well-organized work space or a one with some clutter. Track your liking for the background sound. Get to know if a quiet environment or some background music helps you to concentrate better. An alternate study place also works. This is because the change of scenery brings in a breath of fresh air and rejuvenates your spirits. So, if you find stressed about your exam while studying, head to the coffee shop, library or Local Park for your study.
- Take a break at frequent intervals: Psychological studies say that the average human brain can effectively concentrate on a particular task only for about 45 minutes. Further, neuroscience says that focusing on the same thing for a long period decreases the brain’s capacity to process it accurately. So, go for a walk, take a snack, help your mom at the kitchen, or get involved in your hobby after every 45 minutes of study to replenish your brain cells.
- Drink adequate amounts of water: Staying hydrated all through the day is very important. This is more important during your exam preparation period as you need to stay healthy now. Dehydration can make you feel stressed and sluggish. Sipping a hot cup of herbal tea can soothe your nerves while also hydrating you. Passionflower, Chamomile, and peppermint are good choices. Caffeine is not suggested during exams as it can stimulate anxiety in you. If you really can’t do without cola or coffee, 100 mg of caffeine per day is the limit for teens and kids, and 400 mg for adults.
- Reward yourself on your achievements, great or small: If you find exam stress building up in you, make sure that you are rewarding yourself for your study time. This will not only reduce stress, but also motivate you to study continually. So, watch TV, play a session of your favorite game, or chat with your friend, after a good study period. This will help get your mind off your exam for a while, and thus rejuvenate you.
- Work out your muscles: Exercise is a good stress reliever. Regularly carry out aerobic work outs to beat your exam stress. To stay motivated during your workout, it is suggested that you listen to upbeat music. Meditation can also have a similar de-stressing influence on you.