Don’t let stress ruin your exam results
Pre–exam stress – what is it? What do you feel when you hear the word exam? A tight knot in your stomach, a faster pulse, or maybe anxiety?
Each of these symptoms is a sign of stress. Tests, assessments, reports – all these are integral parts of our lives, particularly during our years at school. You can’t escape it, because you will have to sit at least a few exams in your life.
And this is why today you will familiarise yourself with a few hints on how to cope with pre-exam nerves and stress .
The simplest advice is learn. Stress most commonly occurs when we don’t feel we have adequately prepared ourselves. That is why it is worth planning our learning well in advance and creating a scheme which will suit us.
Are you a visual learner? Then make yourself a mind-map. Do you prefer to learn through technology? Go onto YouTube or look for podcasts and find resources linked to the topics which you are most interested in and need to revise.
It has often been argued that it is better to revise for short periods and often, rather than rarely and for extended periods of time.
Try things out, test strategies , see what others are doing and find the ideal and most effective method for you.
If we had to choose one thing which is a remedy for everything, then sleep would be at the top of the list. Sleep helps our bodies to regenerate, it improves our state of mind and helps our brains work at 100 per cent capacity.
We are in the position to process information efficiently and think clearly, which will obviously be helpful in every exam. Essential preparation is very useful, but unless you get the right amount of rest, it will be difficult to show it off. And this is why, the night before an important day, go to bed early, put your phone aside and pick up a book and make yourself a cup of your favourite tea.
Believe me, this is the best thing you can do for your body.
The next key element which will help you minimise exam stress is your attitude. Stress will show itself in many situations we encounter in our lives, and the key to defeating it is the way in which we approach stress.
It is necessary to name and feel your emotions, since what we verbalise is important and meaningful. Telling yourself “I am worried about this exam and I don’t know if I will manage” puts you in an uncomfortable position.
Instead of saying that, you could say “my body is ready to cope with this challenge” or “this is important to me and that’s why I’m counting on it to go well”. Both sentences mean similar things, but the message is quite different. We are not denying that we feel stressed, but are simply viewing these emotions from a positive perspective.
Don’t let stress overwhelm you
And now we come to another issue, that of distancing ourselves. We recognise that exams are important. Good matura results can guarantee us admission to a course we want to study, just like passing a driving test means that we can move around a town – but this is not a matter of life and death!
Sometimes any of us can stumble. The most important thing to do is to draw conclusions and move on. When we don’t get the results we wanted, we can resit the exam. It’s vital not to put too much pressure on ourselves. In two, five or ten years’ time, you won’t even remember the exams which are causing you so much stress at the moment.
So why not distance yourself just before the exams. Listen to a song which calms you down, and stops you thinking about anything at all. Shut your eyes and become aware of your breathing, meditate, listen to birdsong or the sound of waves lapping the shoreline. You have many options, and what you choose depends on your personal preferences.
Try and decide what makes you forget about the whole world and makes you enter a Zen state. It’s worth drawing up a list of helpful ideas and always keeping them to hand.
And when you have calmed down and are breathing normally, your heart will return to its familiar rhythm, your legs will stop wobbling like jelly , and you will be ready to take up the challenge and sail through your exam!