It’s the time of year again when exams are looming for many students. However, fear not because with careful planning and a few helpful strategies, they don’t have to be stressful experiences. In fact, a little bit of stress can be a good thing as it can boost brainpower and motivation to succeed.
The trick to coping with stress is not to expect to eliminate it; but rather to manage the symptoms and limit its effects.
1. Don’t leave revision to the last minute and cram all night before an exam. This is a surefire way of causing panic and rising stress levels.
2. Do plan ahead by preparing a revision timetable well before exams begin. Breaking things down into manageable chunks is key. Also everyone revises differently so find out what works for you. Use a variety of methods to revise - mind maps, pictures, cue cards, acronyms, rhymes - just simply reading is not enough. Use your parents - test them and teach them!
3. Don’t revise all the time and stay away from caffeine and too much sugar which may seem to help at first but in the long run they’re not helpful.
4. Do look after yourself: remember it’s important to eat and sleep well. Give yourself time each day to relax, taking breaks to do something enjoyable - watch TV, listen to music, read a book or go out for a walk. Eat nutritional snacks, drink lots of water and try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Put yourself first - this is an important time for you.
5. Don’t get bogged down with negative thoughts of failure as this can cause increased anxiety.
6. Do learn some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness and yoga, and use them when you start to feel anxious. Try to develop a growth mindset by visualising success, focussing energy on improvement and not failure.
7. Don't stand around at the end of an exam, comparing notes with your mates about how you all did. It will only depress you to realise that you've written three pages about Charles I when the question was on Charles II.
8. Do recognise all you were able to do in the exam, try to switch off and go home smiling!