Exam stress is caused by that annoying voice in the back of your head that says you can’t possibly pass this exam. You’re going to fail, disappoint your parents and end up living in a cardboard box on the street. You know that’s unlikely, but the pressure of doing well on the exam mounts as the date draws nearer. Exam stress can have disastrous side effects including headaches, stomach aches, disturbed sleep patterns, loss of appetite and inability to concentrate. Talk about a perfect storm to make your worst fears come true!
You need to chill. Take a deep breath and realise that exam stress will prevent you from studying by reducing your ability to concentrate. Sleep deprivation will turn your memory into a sieve that leaks everything you put into it. Being overly tense in the exam itself will mean that you perform way below you actual capabilities. These arguments have been used to show that exams are not the best way to test a student’s capabilities. But since they are here to stay, we may as well find a way to make the most of them.
There are many ways to beat the exam blues. Try all of them to find the methods that work best for you:
· Pep talk. I know it sounds corny, but if you just control your inner voice, you will be surprised at how much your attitude changes. When you start to worry, or tell yourself; “This is just too hard!”, then take a break and do something else. Replace the negative inner dialogue with something positive like “Yes, I can do this. It’s easy!”
· Exercise; get moving and eat well so as to help your body cope better with the added stress. This will enable you to sleep better too. Stay off the exam candies, cookies and potato chips as these will not provide your brain with the sustenance it needs to excel.
· Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your exam, but don’t get there too early so you can be affected by other people’s pre-exam stress. Keep to yourself, and just keep repeating your positive inner dialogue.
· Get enough sleep. It may seem like a good idea to give up your sleepy time to study, but the law of diminishing returns means that not getting enough sleep seriously reduces your ability to retain information and deal with stress.
· Be realistic. Leave enough time for yourself to study, set attainable study goals and don’t leave everything to the last minute to cram.
Take control of your study schedule and you can significantly reduce your exam stress. Remember that controlling your thought process and inner dialogue is the key to a stress-free exam session. Remember; you’ve got this covered. You’re going to crack this exam, no worries.