Upcoming exams and tests got you in a panic? Use our handy guide to manage your stress
We’re nearing the middle of the year again and with it comes exam stress – lots of it! Not only are you worried about doing well, but your parents are probably also expecting you to get top marks.
And we all know that doing well in each test or exam counts for a better all-round result, which gives you an advantage when you apply at tertiary institutions. Talk about pressure! All this anxiety to perform well can have a stressful effect on your body.
While a small amount of stress can be good because it can motivate you to push harder, too much stress can affect your performance negatively. Dr Gillian Mooney, teaching and learning manager at The Independent Institute of Education, says it’s vital to monitor your mental wellbeing as you approach crunch time.
While some stress is healthy in the short term, and can help you be more productive and motivated, negative stress can cause distress, leading to anger, irritability and fear. “Negative stress might also cause physical symptoms such as a headache or stomach cramps.
Exam anxiety is a kind of stress that involves excessive worrying about exams, the fear of being evaluated and the consequences of exams. Exam anxiety is experienced by many students,” she adds. So don’t think you’re alone!
Here are our top 10 tips on how you can manage your stress:
- BELIEVE IN YOURSELF If you’ve worked consistently since the start of the year, you should be fine so there’s no need to worry excessively. You have this!
- DON’T TRY TO BE PERFECT It’s good to have goals, but they need to be realistic. If you believe that anything less than 100 % means you’ve failed, then you’re creating unnecessary stress for yourself.
- DON’T BOTTLE THINGS UP A good way to ease your worry is to confide in someone you trust and who’ll be supportive, for example your parents, friends or lecturers.
- KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE Exams might seem like the most important thing right now, but in the context of your whole life, they’re only really a small part. Life will be worth living regardless of an exam. Give yourself credit for getting as far as you have.
- BE PROACTIVE If you don’t understand something, merely stressing about it won’t help. Rather make an appointment to see your lecturer/teacher, talk to your classmates or review a past exam paper.
- GET ACCURATE INFORMATION Check all the course/syllabus information and ask your lecturer/teacher. You need to know what will be in the exam, how it’ll be marked, where the exam will be written and when the exam will start and end.
- STRUCTURE YOUR STUDY TIME Study in regular sessions of about 50 minutes each, separated by 10-minute breaks.
- PLAN FOR THE EXAM Try to arrive at the exam venue early. Wear a watch or make sure you know where the clock is in the exam venue. Wear layers of clothes so that you can adjust when you feel hot or cold. Make a list of all the materials you’ll need in the exam room and be sure to pack it before you go.
- TRY TO MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE Your anxiety levels will increase if you feel tired and run down. Improve your resilience by getting enough exercise, eating nutritious food and getting regular and adequate sleep.
- AVOID THE THINGS THAT WON’T HELP Try not to drink too much coffee the night before and the morning of the exam. Avoid other students who are anxious and talkative before the exam. And avoid talking about the course material just before the exam.