Exam stress is a state where you feel overwhelmed, confused and you might not be able to access the information stored. It does not mean that you don’t know the subject – often it affects you even though you have studied and know the answers under normal circumstances and that’s what is the most annoying! Let’s have a look at ways to overcome exam stress.
Take breaks while studying
As important as studying hard is taking regular breaks. Every 90 – 120 minutes you should have at least 15 minutes break, away from the subject of your study. Take yourself on a brisk walk around the block, take a jog to the park and back or drink a cup of tea while chatting to someone. It is important that the breaks are active, lying on the couch or watching TV will not restore your energy or clear your mind.
Ask for help
Struggling alone can increase anxiety and worry. Why not study in a group with friends? Meet in the library or a study room, set aside two hours of intensive study, ask each other questions, go through the material together, explain the topic to each other – all these activities will support your learning and make the retention more effective.
Stay away from drugs
Drugs like caffeine, including coffee, black tea and energy drinks, along with tobacco, speed, cocaine, tranquilizer or sleeping pills will only work short term and they leave you dealing with the after-effects which will be more challenging than the original exam stress. These drugs might be common among your friends and they might even encourage you by down-playing the side-effects. Still, you will study better with regular breaks, enough sleep and exercise.
Make a study plan ahead of time. Plan the weeks before the exam and put time aside in your calendar to study. Remember to plan for breaks. Think about the topics that need to be revised and divide them over your calendar. Link with fellow students and organise study groups to answer any of your questions along the way. Leave time in the last week before the exam, at least one full day, to take a break from the topic and do something fun.
Do some guided imagery
This technique can greatly reduce anxiety for future events, so take some time to read and apply it: Imagine meeting your future self that is just taking the exam and imagine it happening exactly the way you would like to. See yourself in a state of calmness, writing down all the answers swiftly and with ease. The second time imagine the scene again, now standing right behind your future self. After that, have a conversation with your future self and ask questions, like: How did you prepare? What attitude did you have, what beliefs about yourself? What resources did you draw upon? Any advice you want to give? Ask any other question you would like to have answered. Next imagine stepping into the shoes of your future self and now see through your own eyes and imagine the scene taking place exactly how you would like it to happen. Before coming back to the present moment, have your future self give you all the resources, attitudes and beliefs you need and let them integrate into you. Travel back in time to now and see all the steps of preparation that you will take as you travel towards your future self.