Exams are often the most stressful time of a school term for Secondary and College/University students. Many people have trouble dealing with this stress and it can often affect a student’s performance on their exams or even interfere with their every day activities. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but there are many strategies for effectively dealing with it so that you, or the students in your life, can perform at their best.
A lot of exam stress is caused by students not being adequately prepared for the exams they will be writing. This can always be solved with good study habits. Most people are familiar with the “Cramming” strategy of studying for exams, where a student tries to study everything for hours the night before the exam; this can work for some people, but in the majority of cases, it is far more effective to start studying regularly weeks in advance of the exam period. This strategy helps students retain information in the long-term, which will help immensely on the exam and in the future when the student will need the skills and knowledge learned from the course.
When a student feels as if they will perform poorly on an exam, it can cause severe stress, especially if the course is important to them or required for their program. Building a student’s confidence will not only reduce stress, but improve performance and self-esteem. Encouragement, proper preparation, and visualizing the exam going well are all good techniques for boosting a student’s confidence.
Manage Your Time
Time management is an important skill in all areas of life, but during stressful exam periods it is especially important. This can involve allotting certain amounts of study time for each course every day, but it goes beyond just studying. A student must be sure that they don’t spend too much time on wasteful or un-productive activities. It is certainly important to have some free time for stress relief during exams, but a student who feels heavy pressure from peers to “slack off” frequently may neglect their studying. When a student properly manages their time, they feel in control and confident about their lives, which can greatly reduce stress.
During exam period, many students will neglect their usual healthy habits in favour of late nights, fast food, and way too much caffeine. Some will cease exercising regularly or completely. However, exam period is an extremely important time to keep up with healthy habits. Staying healthy and active will ensure that the student is functioning at full capacity and getting the most out of every hour of studying. In addition, regular exercise naturally reduces stress levels. Maintaining healthy habits during exam periods will help the student stay focused, stay alert, and manage stress.
Taking breaks might sound like a part of time management, but it is important enough to warrant its own section! Many students will binge-study for two, three, or more hours at a time, often on the same subject. This is an ineffective way to study, can tire the student out, cause loss of focus, and be generally detrimental to the process of studying. This will make the student feel worse and learn less, resulting in far more stress. It is vitally important while studying to take short, regular breaks every hour or so. These breaks refresh the student and allow for some time to absorb the material they studied. This will greatly reduce the student’s stress level.
Dealing with stress properly can be difficult, but it is extremely important to do so. Using these techniques to alleviate some of the pre-exam stress can help a student perform better and feel better.