The exam period is approaching. Many of you have forthcoming examinations, particularly at AS and A2. This time of year, exam stress can get you down. I have put together five top tips for dealing with exam stress.
Exam Stress Tip #1 Eat and Sleep Properly
If you are not sleeping and eating properly, you will under-perform. Eating and sleeping is crucial for a good exam performance and for reducing your exam stress. You may not feel like you have enough time to go shopping, but planning your meals and packing a lunch before school, college or university will mean that you eat properly every day. This is time well invested. If you are not eating or drinking properly, your health can suffer. That means time off, and missing vital revision sessions.
During snack time, drink water and eat bananas. Bananas are a slow energy releasing food, so they will keep you going through revision sessions. Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks, as they interfere with your sleep and hydration.
Exam Stress Tip #2 Plan your Revision
Having a revision plan set up early means that you will know exactly what material you will have to cover in advance. You can allocate time per subject and per topic. This means that there will not be a last minute panic and cramming session, dramatically reducing exam stress. It is a good idea to create a timetable with a checklist.
Exam Stress Tip #3 Practice Past Papers
Past papers will help you to familiarise yourself with the exam format. This will reduce exam stress during the exam itself because you will know what to expect. When you practice past papers, get feedback from a teacher who can give you guidance as to where you can improve. You can also download the mark schemes and examiners reports to assess yourself – just make sure that you are downloading test for the right exam board!
Exam Stress Tip #4 Know when and where you work Best
It is important to realize where and when you are most productive with your time. Find out where, when and how you study best and do more of that! I know that I work best early in the morning when I am fresh, rather than at the end of the day or in the evening. I also know that I need to work in my office or in a library, where there are no distractions. If I revise like this in advance of my exams, it dramatically reduces my exam stress.
Where do work best? At home or at school? Are you using your study periods effectively? Also, what time of day is best for you to study? Some people like to work early, but others prefer to burn the midnight oil.
How do you study best? If you an audio learner, you could listen to podcasts. Kinaesthetic learners can visit places or revise while walking. If, like me, you are a visual learner, you might prefer to draw diagrams and mind maps. If you can find out where, when and how you learn best, and combine this with putting the time in, this will lead you to exam success.
Exam Stress Tip #5 Don’t Panic!
Panicking will not help you – it will just stress you out! But ‘don’t panic’ is easier said than done. If you are experiencing panic attacks or anxiety during the exam period, speak to your doctor. There are things available to help (both medication and other techniques or support). If your anxiety is severe, or you have special educational needs, you may be entitled to extra time or a private room to take the exam in. Make sure that you have a medical note and speak to your school, college or university in advance of the exams to get support.