Examinations are the bane of every student's life, and unfortunately, it is one of those things that is simply unavoidable.
Exams and stress go hand in hand. Whether you are a pupil in a primary school or a postgraduate student with years of experience in taking various exams you will still feel butterflies in your stomach every time you think about sitting an exam. Exam-related stress torments tens of millions of students worldwide and, as if passing your examinations wasn't stressful enough, the thought of the modern competitive global job market adds to the pressure.
Being stressed before an exam is highly likely to affect your performance during the exam negatively and you may not demonstrate the full range of knowledge you have. Fortunately for you, we have compiled a list of foolproof methods that will help you manage your exam stress which will, in turn, make you perform better at the actual exam.
1. The importance of creating and sticking to a schedule.
Effective time management is the crucial element in having a calm mind. Managing your time efficiently, creating a comprehensive schedule, and most importantly sticking to it day in and day out can do wonders for your stress relief.
But remember that your schedule shouldn't consist of just studying and sleeping in the pre-exam period.
You should also make some time for enjoyable social activities and just relaxing.
Take regularly scheduled breaks and do some fun activities. Having this balanced daily routine will help you be more refreshed and motivated when it is time for studying.
2. Avoid cramming.
Continuing with the theme of time management, cramming just a few days before the exam will not do you any good. Even if you have an excellent memory and can memorize dozens of pages of information in a few hours we highly advise you not to resort to this method.
Why would you cause yourself all this unnecessary stress and put yourself under time pressure just before an important exam when you can avoid all of this headache by starting your revision earlier?
If you cram before the exam not only will you be more stressed during it but it is more likely that you will forget everything as soon as you put your pen down after it. So not only does cramming cause all the unnecessary stress but it is also counterproductive when it comes to your long-term education goals.
They do not say "healthy body healthy mind" for no reason. Exercising regularly doesn't just improve your physical health, it also so makes you more stable mentally and releases hormones that make you feel happier and calmer.
And don't think that you need to sign up for a gym or invest in expensive training equipment. When you're making your daily schedule just put aside 15 minutes for a simple yoga exercise (you can find hundreds of detailed video tutorials online and all you need is a cheap mat).
4. A problem shared is a problem halved.
We are living in an age when we can see everybody flaunting their success (whether real or fictitious) on social media. This adds to the peer pressure and subsequently makes us more scared of failing in the things we endeavor to do (including exams).
As a result, many students choose to keep their exam-related anxiety to themselves out of embarrassment. But, it is important to remember that you are not the only one dealing with exam stress. There are millions of students in the same boat as you and sharing your feelings with each other can help alleviate stress.
5. Getting enough sleep is of paramount importance.
You might be under a misapprehension that you can get away with just a few hours of sleep a day. Well, your brain begs to differ!
Research after research has demonstrated that the students who don't sleep enough experience more stress.
In addition, those who have distorted sleeping patterns (i.e. don't go to sleep at regular times for the same number of hours) feel more stressed too. If you are a parent, you can control how much sleep your primary school child is getting.
Remember the daily schedule we talk about? Well, grab a pen and put aside 6 to 8 hours for sleeping. Believe me, both your body and your mind will thank you for it.
6. Stop smoking and drinking coffee or alcohol.
Again, how we feel inside is a lot of times connected with how we treat our body and what we put into it. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that increase a person's stress levels. You should be cutting them out of your life altogether in order to avoid long-term health risks, but if you can't do that then at least reduce your intake during the pre-exam period since they are causing you to feel more stressed.
As for alcohol, when it is consumed in large quantities it can act as a depressant and make you feel drowsy, and when it is consumed in smaller quantities it can be a stimulant and make you feel excited or stressed. Needless to say neither of these is helpful when you are trying to stay calm before your exams.
You might want to also know which type of brain foods you should eat so as to develop your mental prowess!
7. Do several mock exams at home.
One of the leading causes of feeling stressed before an exam is not knowing what to expect on the day. Human beings have a natural ability to feel stressed when they are facing the unknown so if you can do mock exams at home this will familiarize you with the exam conditions and alleviate some of the stress.
Recreate the exam conditions as closely as possible: set a timer, do not get distracted, do not talk or use any of the gadgets and books you are not allowed to use in the actual exam, and so on.
Do this several times just to familiarize yourself with the feeling of sitting an exam, which will reduce your stress levels when the actual big day comes. You can download free exam papers from these websites.
8. Create a comfortable study space.
If you are revising for your exam in an uncomfortable, poorly ventilated, and dirty space this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on your mood and make you feel more stressed.
To avoid this devote one area of your house to studying and make sure it is well lit, with plenty of fresh air, comfortable seating, and other essential things you might need during your study session.
In addition, it is important to maintain a tidy and uncluttered desk. Otherwise, you might spend 10-minutes looking for something you need which will make you feel frustrated and stressed.
9. Listen to your favorite genre of music.
For as long as music has existed human beings have been using it to calm their nerves. Listening to our favorite type of music has been proven to alleviate stress.
When we listen to music our pulse slows down and our blood pressure drops which reduces the level of stress hormones in our body.
If you are planning to listen to music while you are studying then we recommend classical music or any instrumental tracks.
Alternatively, you can take regular study breaks and let your mind unwind for 5 or 10 minutes by listening to your favorite songs.
10. Repeat positive affirmations, breathe and meditate.
Another thing that relaxes the mind is repeating positive affirmations to yourself out loud. Several studies have demonstrated that doing this can reduce exam-related anxiety by reducing adrenaline levels in our bodies.
Some examples of positive confirmations include phrases such as "I am going to ace this exam!", “My exam-taking skills are improving with practice!” etc.
And when we say breathing we don't just mean the regular kind of breathing you do without realizing it. What we mean is taking deep breaths at regular intervals then holding your breath for a couple of seconds and then fully exhaling (repeat at least 10 times).
This type of deep breathing exercise done for a couple of minutes can help you calm your nerves as well as increase your concentration and focus. This fact has been demonstrated by numerous studies.
Another great relaxation technique is meditation. If you don't know how to do it it's not a problem, there are hundreds of video tutorials online showing you exactly what needs to be done. You can make meditation part of your daily routine to maintain a healthy state of mind in the long run.
To conclude, you do not need to incorporate all of these practices into your daily routine at once. Start by adopting the ones you like the most and once you try them out for yourself and see that they truly help you keep your exam stress at bay then you can incorporate a few more stress-management techniques into your daily routine.
The only good thing about stress is that it is cheap to cure. You do not need any expensive remedies and the useful information we provided in this article is free. All you need to do is take our advice and (most importantly) stay consistent.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, and start your journey towards a stress-free life right now!