Following on from my previous post about exam revision tips, I thought I might write a slightly different post for those of you who are nervous or suffer with anxiety when it comes to exams. It can be so frustrating to be thoroughly prepared and have worked hard and know everything you need to just to ruin all that effort with nerves and anxiety that makes you drop your nerve, your memory and sometimes worse!
Here are some things that have helped me or people I know get through the exam period despite anxiety!
It sounds fairly obvious but anxiety, for me at least, is about factors that I cannot control and the fear of things going wrong so I find that the best way to lessen that anxiety in any way I can is to prepare to the best of my ability and assure myself that, because I have prepared so thoroughly for every question, I am in complete control and have done the best that I can do.
I mean this in the broadest sense: tidy your room, keep an uncluttered environment, keep exam revision notes tidy and organised so that you have a visual representation of your preparation and how ready you are. A clean environment keeps your thoughts clean and stops you unnecessarily stressing over stupid little things when your mind needs to focus on this one big thing.
Consume things that are soothing so peppermint tea, fruit tea, any kind of warm tea at all really, soup, fruit, vegetables, drink plenty of water. Your brain will need the nourishment anyway and your body will seriously thank you for it. Eat like junk, feel like junk. Eat well, feel well.
Fake it ’til you make it
Put yourself in exam conditions. Print out the past paper, get a notebook and a pen, set a timer and treat yourself as if you are actually within that exam situation that makes you so nervous. Once you have sat and forced yourself through it and proved to yourself that you can do it and it isn’t so bad, you are retraining the associations you have made within your memory to see the event as less negative and more positive and your resistance to the stressful exam situation will increase.
Make it easier on yourself
Exams aren’t a measure of your intelligence and this is a problem the education system has yet to overcome. In the mean time, all you can do is acknowledge that this whole thing is just a memory game. To me, knowing I have to remember nine essay answers in three different exams is scary so break it down. I have to remember three essays for one particular exam. Go even further; instead of trying to remember the information for three hours, try to remember it for ten minutes and jot down the plan to each essay first thing when the exam begins. Remember this information for ten minutes longer sounds a lot easier and creates far less pressure than remember this information from now until a month from now and don’t drop a single bit of it within those nine precious hours!
If you’re finding the whole run up to exams just as stressful and anxious as the exam time itself, then practice calming techniques on a regular basis, and I mean really make a conscious effort to do this because constant stress can cause such a strain on your body. Breathe deeply, stretch yourself out, listen to soothing music, read a calm book, watch pandas sleep on zoo live cams or sailing videos on youtube – whatever it is that helps you get to your happy place!
So, I hope that this helps, I hope that knowing you’re not the only one who is bricking it helps and just try to be good to yourself.
I wish you all the best of luck!