How to Avoid Exam Stress

Exam time is demanding, and most students will feel the pressure, to a certain degree.  Stress can help you perform better – in small doses.  However, if you spend the lead-up to exams and exam time itself in a state of permanent stress, it can be harmful to your mind and body.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce stress and maximise your performance at this time.

Make a habit of it
Start reviewing your coursework daily and weekly, right from the beginning of the semester.  This means reading your lecture notes every day after classes and keeping them organised.  Integrate your textbook and other assigned reading with your lecture notes, so that all the material is together.

Flag problem areas as soon as you encounter them.  Don’t be shy to ask friends, tutors or lecturers for help with concepts you don’t understand.

Before the exam
Read through previous tests and make a note of where you went wrong.  Find out what sections will be covered in the exam, what materials you’ll need to bring, how long you’ll have to write, whether the questions are in multiple choice or essay form, and so on.

Create a study guide by summarising each topic in notes, then summarising further by writing an outline.  An outline turns large piece of text into short, logical systems that are easy to remember.

Schedule your studying times, and make sure you study in a place with minimal distractions. Take a 10 minute break after each hour of study.

Work through the exam papers from previous years.  Don’t just read – actively interact with the material.  Explain each concept in your own words and check back to see if it’s correct. Create acronyms, flashcards, diagrams, mnemonic devices – anything that will help you remember the material more easily than just memorising the material as is.

Sail through
If you are consistent with your studying, you’ll be able to get through crunch time calmly and confidently, as well as doing better in the exams themselves, which is what you were stressing about in the first place!

Photo credit: Abdulmajeed Al.mutawee

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