How Can you Beat Exam-Time Stress?

By Dr. Ashima Srivastava in Mental Health And Behavioural Sciences , Clinical Psychology

Feb 13 , 2017 | 3 min read

Stress is relative and volatile; it crops up whenever and wherever and sometimes goes away before we even take notice. Examination induced anxiety and stress is the most common of them all, leaving even the best of students feeling overwhelmed and underprepared.

Examination related stress in students can be characterized by:

  • High expectations from Self
  • Parental pressures
  • Competition amongst peers
  • Irregular sleep routines
  • Lack of familial and social support
  • Overconsumption of “stress-reducing” foods

Many students are unaware of the fact that examination stress can in fact be controlled. There are several ways students can reduce their chances of feeling stressed out in this crucial time. Let’s go through some of these tips:

Start Studying Early!

This is usually the hardest thing to do but the best way to reduce stress. Remember, prevention is always better than cure! Start planning out your syllabus as soon as the exams are announced. Be ready with notes and sources so nothing is left for the eleventh hour.

Have a Plan to Manage Your Time

Make a study plan and stick to it. Outline short term and long term study goals that are challenging yet attainable. Reward yourself when you reach these small and long term goal to help you stick to the plan and remain motivated.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This can only be done when you start right away. Just reading over the necessary material will not help you ace exams. Take out sufficient time to revise and practice questions from previous exams. Remember, practice allows us to catch our mistakes before the actual final. It’s always best to know where we stand as we prepare for exams.

Visualize Success

Visualize yourself on the day of the exam, calmly going through the paper, attempting any and all necessary questions and feeling positive throughout. Visualizations make goals seem more realistic and attainable. Remember to refrain from day dreaming. Visualization is a motivational tool, not an excuse to be distracted!

Talk to Someone

If you ever feel like the stress and anxiety is getting the best of you, talk to someone about it. Sharing our feelings not only reduces stress but also helps us sort through irrational thoughts we generally have when we get anxious. Also, knowing someone else feeling the same, helps us to cope with our problems more effectively.

Try relaxation!

Deep breathing is your best friend at times of stress! Always! Before you sit to study, before you sleep, as soon as you wake up, and just before a crucial examination. There is no fixed time to engage in some deep breathing. Close your eyes, clear your thoughts, and inhale slowly from your nose. Fill your lungs and slowly release the air from your mouth, and repeat. As you do this, remember to focus on relaxing, imagine silence and serenity wherever it may be for you. Deep breathing and visualization work well together.

Be Healthy

Listen to your parents and teachers when they tell you to follow a proper diet and sleep schedule before and during your exams. The body is prone to infections when we’re under pressure or stress. Protect your immune system by avoiding food from restaurants and get your necessary 7-8 hours of continuous sleep at night. When we’re healthy, we focus better and studying is easier.

Just Do Your Best!

Everyone aims big but don’t be disheartened if you fall short. Just do your personal best and leave no regrets. When you get an evaluation of your performance, go back and look at where you may have gone wrong or what you can improve on. Work on your weak areas using the above mentioned tips and give it another go. Hard work never goes unrewarded.

Caffeine is NOT your Friend

Dr. Ashima Srivastava says, Though many students resort to coffee and energy drinks to keep up long study hours, research shows that these drinks can have harmful effects on the brain, memory and may cause heart problems. While on a caffeine rush we may feel like we’re absorbing everything, when in fact information is not being effectively coded into our memory because our thoughts are racing. It is advised to follow proper sleep patterns instead of having to rely on caffeine and energy drinks

Examinations are unnecessarily hyped; just because they’re challenging doesn’t make them a hurdle to fear. Do your best, work hard, and be confident in your ability to succeed.