How to make taking exams a less nerve-wracking aspect of your life
Everyone remembers the special experience of taking exams. Even though most adults are veterans of the process, it still strikes fear into the hearts of many. The proof is in the pudding – grown-ups still get nervous about interviews, that are nothing but exams for adults, after all!
Besides, which one of us has not had an exam related nightmare?
Whether you are waking up shaken from a bad dream about being back in school and unprepared for a test or you are just glad that you are done with that part of your life, exam stress is a familiar experience for us all.
So, does exam stress still persist for the new generation?
One can argue that it is worse than before. All of us have heard stories about stringent admissions requirements, where a near perfect score is not enough to get you a seat in a good college. If this is how outlandish it might seem to an adult, imagine what it is doing to our children. Newspaper headlines and ground realities are likely to strike fear in any student’s heart. It’s no wonder that children today are dealing with greater exam stress than ever. Mounting mental health issues amongst students and the stakes being raised year after year do not make things easier.
So what are some quick tips to bust exam stress?
Below we share some that are tried and tested, and some that are a bit more new age. Share these with the students in your life today!
1. Eat nutritiously
When it comes to what is best for our health, our mothers were always right. The maxim “A healthy mind dwells in a healthy body” definitely holds true here. While the temptation to indulge yourself and snack on sweets or chips runs strong especially during exam time, we urge you to resist. Instead, reach for a banana or some nuts – these are both brain foods that will satiate hunger, combat stress eating and fuel your brain.
2. Get enough sleep
As was the case with eating junk food, students tend to give us sleep for extra study hours. This might seem like a sensible compromise – why not pack in a few more hours of cramming which you can then make up for with a marathon sleep session after the exam? We have an answer. A lack of sleep impairs recall, cognitive function and just does not put you in a good mental space to give an exam. You are more likely to make silly mistakes, in short. Not something you want happening during an exam where every mark counts, right?
3. Create a schedule
It might seem overwhelming to some or just pointless to others but creating a schedule should be the first step to any serious exam preparation. Why? Because creating a study schedule forces you to evaluate the quantum of work you have left on your plate. It is an opportunity to assess how far you have come in your studying and how far you have to go. It also gives the most realistic assessment of the number of hours you need to be able to cover your syllabus for that upcoming exam. Being well prepared is step one to winning the battle – to get to schedule!
4. Use revision tools
Poring over the fine print by the light of tube light sounds boring on paper, so why would it be any less engaging in real life? Research shows that creating notes are one of the best tools to encourage recall during your examination. Whether it is flashcards or post-it notes or mnemonic devices, revision tools are your friend. But these seem a little old school to younger students – when you have school ERP software that allows you to take a look at your class notes from anywhere at any time or share your new tips with your fellow classmates, it results in crowdsourcing of revision tools. A win-win for everyone!
5. Ask for help (teachers)
No matter how late in the day it may seem and no matter how silly your doubt may be… just ask! Your teachers, parents, and even your friends at school are here to help you. It is literally their job. So do not hesitate to reach out if you need assistance. Having a school ERP that allows one on one, private, secure communication between each of these stakeholders in addition to students make these easier. It also allows setting up of special interest groups that can help with peer learning via group discussion. Removing any barriers in communications just means added learning!
Don’t worry – we hate forced exercise too. Why go out for a sweaty run when you can instead shut your brain off and play a game on your PlayStation? It is because data shows that exercise actually helps us think better. Yes, it is not just about keeping your body in shape, but also your mind sharp. Besides, it is a great stress buster. Try it – let your mind wander during a walk or process some frustration when you lift some weights at the gym. You will start noticing you are more centred, focus more easily, and just feel more agile and nimble in mind and body as exams approach.
7. Reward yourself
Great – you have eaten nutritiously, walked to clear your mind a little, and even got a full eight hours of sleep. All this on top of exam revision! This just means time for more revision, right? Not necessarily. If you are feeling good about how much you have accomplished (this is where a schedule comes in handy – measure yourself against pre-set goals), why not reward yourself. Do not fatigue your brain too much while studying your exams. Instead, spend time with family and friends discussing what’s going on in the world or immerse yourself in a good show or book to relax your mind. You deserve it. Good luck on your exams!