Beat exam anxiety – start planning now!

By admin
05 May 2014

The exams might feel like ages away, but if you start planning now, you can avoid unnecessary exam stress.

Tests and exams are often a great source of stress and anxiety for students, but it needn’t be.

Much like all things in life, too much or too little stress will hamper your performance and prevent you from doing your best. A little anxiety actually helps you focus by increasing your sense of awareness, but too much can cause those blank, paralysing moments we all fear.

As a student you should always remember that old saying of failing to plan is planning to fail, but if you plan to succeed, it’s all about managing your time. Use your time before, during and after your exam to minimise your stress and increase your chances of passing.

Before exams

Compile a study timetable before an exam, be realistic and try to stick to it as far as possible. This helps you organise your thoughts and gives you a strategy, which also reduces your stress.

Use other people’s time; ask if you don’t understand something, make an appointment with your teacher, form a study group. Stress will lessen with understanding. Someone may be able to explain something to you in a matter of minutes, while trying to figure it out for yourself might have taken hours.

During exam time

Use your time to create a study-friendly environment a day or two before you start studying. Don’t start spring-cleaning when you’re supposed to be studying.

Remember that time is also well spent on activities which supplement your study efforts. The importance of exercising and sleeping cannot be emphasised enough. Both reduce stress by helping you focus, thereby decreasing anxiety.

After exams

Reward your efforts. If you can, take a night off or even just relax for a few hours before you start studying for the next exam.

Limit the time you spend talking about the paper you just wrote; don’t focus too much on things you may have got wrong, what’s done is done. Your energy is better focused on things you can still control, such as studying for the next paper, after you have relaxed for a bit of course.

Concern yourself with the things you can control and ignore the things that you can’t. Plan for the rest.

- By Wilmarie Grobbelaar & Riaan Rudman, Stellenbosch University

Mr Rudman is a senior lecturer in Stellenbosch University’s department of accounting.

Wilmarie Grobbelaar is a language specialist in Stellenbosch University’s department of accounting.

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