If we could change the meaning of words, the synonym for the exam would be stress. But, it doesn’t have to be like that. Let’s see which steps you can take to minimise stress during exam time.
Sleep well if you want to boost your retention and maximise time spent on learning. People think if they study all night, they can make up for time lost. But, the effects of sleep deprivation can be negative on your memory and retention. Prioritise quality sleep over anything else and you’ll have better memory and energy to study daily.
Put your study area in order if you want to maximise your studying results. The creative mess can be distracting or even heighten your anxiety. A neat study space will have a positive impact on your mindset because a clutter-free space will have a positive impact on your mind.
You need to fuel your body properly, to fuel your mind the right way. Nutritious food, balanced meals, enough water and sources of vitamin C will ensure that you have enough energy to commit to your studying schedule. If you crave something sweet, try eating bits of dark chocolate as it has been proven to reduce stress.
Regular physical exercise can significantly reduce the feeling of stress. You can use exercise as your superpower to fire up your body to release happy hormones and fight down cortisol. Movement can only benefit you in times of heightened stress because you can always take a break from studying and go for a walk. Fresh air will benefit you and movement will relax your body.
Let’s say you’re preparing for a serious exam like GAMSAT. If you don’t have a clear plan, you can easily be overwhelmed by stress. But it doesn’t have to be stressful if you take GAMSAT preparation or any kind of tutoring. The same applies to any other exam out there – if you need help, ask for help. You can also study in groups and positively benefit from each other.
The daily timetable can be your life-saviour when you’re too overwhelmed by work. More is lost by indecision, than by following a predefined schedule. A timetable is useful, especially if you have to study and revise for several exams at the same time.
Breaks are important because you need to take your mind off things to improve memory and retention. You need to step back from your notes, books, and study material to allow your brain some time to adapt to new pieces of information in your memory.
Breaks are important, but you still have to stick to your schedule. Sometimes a short break can turn into a few hour-long escape. While it may benefit you, it can also increase the sense of panic because you’ll feel like you’ve wasted your precious time. The truth is in balance, so take breaks but remember to stick to your studying schedule.
When we say positive self-talk, we’re not talking about the belief that by only having positive thoughts, the outcome has to be positive. It doesn’t work like that. How can the outcome be positive if you didn’t learn for an exam?
What we’re referring to by saying positive self-talk is to refrain from having self-fulfilling prophecies. Let’s say that you tell yourself that you’ll never pass this exam, it will never happen. You fail the exam and you repeat to yourself “I knew that I would fail this exam”. That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because you thought about it, it inevitably had to happen like that.
The key here is to reframe your thoughts into positive thoughts – I will pass this exam because I will continue to study hard.
One moment you just want to take your mind off studying, so you decide to check up on Instagram. A minute can easily turn into an hour because watching funny puppy videos is a coping mechanism. We feel the flood of happy hormones and it makes us feel better.
But it also eats away our time and if we already feel stressed, this can only make things worse. Limit your screen time, put your phone away from you and resist the urge to scroll. It’s also advisable to stay off social media because you don’t want to feel FOMO because everyone else seems to be having a great time, while you have to study. Remember, social media is a highlights reel meant to make you jealous, not happy.
Lastly, the reason why we feel stressed before an exam is often because we didn’t start learning on time. The percentage of stress is caused by limited time and ensuing panic. Next time you have an exam, start as early as possible and also adopt the strategies we’ve listed in this article.