There is a word many of us dread hearing, regardless of our age. It haunts us, and its mere recollection, even a whisper, often leads us to break out in cold sweats. That word is “Exam”!
Despite being a regular part of everyone’s life, examinations tend to bring out the best or the worst in a person. Exams often motivate people to do their best to score well as it is an indicator of a person’s depth of knowledge. However, dealing with the stress of an upcoming examination or test can lead to unpleasant outcomes for many people. Pressure from peers and parents, revising and remembering the learning materials, sleep deprivation … the list of problems is endless.
Why Is It Important To Overcome Exam Stress?
Stress works uniquely in our bodies, affecting our mental and physical health. Our brains release high levels of cortisol during stress episodes which can cloud our thinking capabilities, arresting any possibility of rational thoughts. It can also affect our physical health. Headaches, stomach issues, and other chronic pains can hamper our performance.
That’s why it’s essential to stay as calm, collected, and focused as possible to attain the most optimal outcome during the exam period. Overcoming stress will ensure you can think clearly. This will enable you to recollect all that was learned and apply it to the questions asked in the exam paper.
Not sure how to do this?
At Top 10s Only, we have curated the Top 10 Ways To Cope With Exam Stress. These are ten practical tips to cope with exam stress and pressure. Please use these to help relieve the stress you may be experiencing due to the upcoming exams.
Top 10 Ways To Cope With Exam Stress
1. Create A Timetable For Efficient Study Time Management
Your stress levels are linked to the level of preparation that has gone into the exam. Preparing beforehand can significantly reduce the fear of the unknown, leading to lesser stress. It helps to know what subjects/topics have already been covered and which portions need further revision. Therefore, the first step to coping with examination stress is to create a timetable for efficient study time management. Allocate specific topics for specific days. Also, make sure the timings you set are those at which you are most alert. A comprehensive timetable will ensure that you have sufficient time to cover the most important topics and have plenty of time to revise the entire subject before the exam date. Tick off each topic as you complete it to feel a small yet significant sense of victory!
2. Feeling Overwhelmed? Talk to Someone
Exams and tests can feel overwhelming. Being timed to complete the given task, recollecting a truckload of information, and pressure on performance…there’s plenty to get your stomach into knots! One of the best things you can do during an exam to reduce stress is to talk it out. Put your worries into perspective by sharing your concerns with someone you trust- like a parent, a counsellor, or a beloved friend. Talk about your genuine fear of exams. Asking for help is never a shameful act. Instead, it can relieve stress, and even empower you.
3. Maintain Physical Health
The next best tip on how to deal with exam stress is to maintain physical health. Our mind and body work synchronously, and when one is imbalanced, it affects the other. Pulling all-nighters, eating poorly, and getting minimal movements during the stressful exam period can fuel anxiety and increase stress levels. Combat this by indulging in daily exercise. Exercise is a proven stress buster as it fills the brain with endorphins, a.k.a, happy hormones. Once you finish the workout, you are bound to feel more active and alert to deal with the rest of the day.
Some healthy ways of coping with exam stress include factoring in 8-9 hours of undisturbed sleep at night, including plenty of slow-release carbs in meals during the day, hydrating adequately, and getting a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise per day.
4. Don’t Study Alone – Find A Study Group
A research paper from 2004 published in Linguistics and Education shared that revising alongside peers greatly helped individuals absorb the learning materials. Studying with peers has been proven to be one of the most effective ways of coping with stress during exam time. You can share the burden of reading up, exchange understanding, and, most importantly, feel a sense of togetherness while tackling stress. So, why wait? Go ahead and plan a group study with like-minded friends or colleagues.
5. Sustain A Healthy Mindset
Our mindset greatly influences our reaction to the exam and the preparation that goes into it. A lot of our exam preparation is done within our minds. So, the more you are mentally prepared, the more tension-free you will feel. Positive affirmations are a great way to get rid of exam stress, as it aligns the mind and body together. Affirmations reduce negative thinking as they bring awareness to your existing thought patterns and feelings. Repeating an empowering phrase reprograms the subconscious mind, guiding your actions to reflect positive thoughts.
Tackle your exam stress by identifying the current cause of your worry. Choose a positive affirmation that corresponds to the cause of the worry and repeat it to yourself. You can write these in a diary first thing in the morning or chant the affirmation to yourself during breathing exercises. Meditation is a great tool to relieve exam stress as well. Mindful breathing with mild yoga poses during study breaks can push the stress out of your body!
6. Set Realistic & Attainable Goals
Focus on prioritizing which topics are important for the exam. You can do this with the help of your parents or teachers and set realistic goals accordingly. Having a daily list of subjects and topics to cover in conjunction with your goals dramatically helps reduce stress before exams or tests. Physically ticking off these goals can also give a sense of achievement while also ensuring that no topic gets missed. Remember – Having realistic goals means you know what to aim for!
7. Create A Distraction-free Study Area
A cluttered desk or environment can significantly hamper our ability to focus on the task at hand. Inspire yourself to stay focused and to cope with the stress over a looming exam by creating a distraction-free, organised study area. Start by decluttering your workspace and keep only what’s required. Your desk should be well-lit and free of any device that could distract you during study hours. In addition, ensure you are using an ergonomic chair to support your posture for long seated hours. Not having a lumbar supporting chair can lead to chronic pains from the neck to the hips, and that’s a painful distraction you do not want!
8. Take Adequate Well-Paced Breaks
Breaks during study time are not a waste of time! Breaks are needed to refresh the mind and keep us away from stress. To reduce stress during exams or tests, it is recommended to indulge in leisure activities like reading and walking or adopt a soothing hobby, like painting. Set aside time to relax with your favourite meal or watch an episode of your favourite series guilt-free. Taking adequate and well-paced breaks will help keep the mind active without overly stimulating it, leaving you charged enough to study efficiently. Additionally, it distracts your mind from the stress of exams in a healthy way.
9. Reward Yourself For Goals Attained
Who doesn’t enjoy a dopamine hit! Never is it more needed than during exam prep time! Want to double the satisfaction that comes after achieving the goals in your study timetable? Just reward yourself each time you tick off a goal on your to-do list. This reward can be anything, a tasty treat or even some precious off-time. This reward system will keep you motivated to complete your list of assigned tasks on time while giving you something to look forward to after that mental workout!
10. Set Mock Exams For Effective Exam Time Management
There are two crucial factors to consider if you want to ace an exam. The first one is how well you can prepare and recollect information, while the second is how quickly you can attempt all the questions in an exam. One of the best ways to reduce examination stress is to practice for an exam beforehand. Attempt the mock exam while timing yourself, as this will enable you to know how best to approach the exam within the given time frame. This will help prepare you for the final exam.
Remember, exams and tests are in place to help us assess our knowledge and improve our understanding of concepts. However, it’s also important to remember that exams and their results do not reflect the overall capability or inherent talents of a person. So attempt them with a positive mindset, knowing that the only purpose of this process is to measure the magnitude of the test takers’ knowledge about the subject. Next time, when you are wondering what to do when you are stressed before an exam or test, use our Top 10 tips to deal with exam stress!
Taking a much-needed break from your exam preparations? Why not choose a book from our Top 10 Mystery Books for Young Adults to distract your mind!