An independent study of 2000 college students by Stop Procrastinating found that 64% are worried that stress and anxiety is affecting performance which will result in lower grades than expected. As a student myself – and one who is in the very middle of taking my GCSE’s right now – I am no stranger to the stresses that exams can bring. It’s easy to say “don’t stress about exams” but it’s a lot harder to actually not stress about exams. They’re important and so, of course, it’s human nature that you will worry. The key is to optimise yourself to deal with this stress.
Make sure that you aren’t revising non-stop. Evidence has shown that your brain finds it difficult to focus and retain information after 45 minutes, anyway, so try and kick-back and spend some time with your friends or listening to music or in front of the television before you continue to revise.
Listen to your favourite bands when you’re not studying and leave that concentration music to accompany your revision sessions.
Notes that are aesthetically pleasing are not only proven to help your brain retain information, but it gives revision a degree of fun. Using bright colours and diagrams are an easy way to memorise things whilst also taking pride in the way your notes looks which takes away the idea that note taking is a chore.
One of the most important things to take away stress is that you are organised. A great way to organise yourself is to make yourself a revision timetable and to make a note of all the exams you have and the dates you have on them.
Seeing all your exams written down gives you a sense of accomplishment when you are finally able to cross them out. Running a long list of dates and deadlines through your head is also the worst thing you can do when feeling overwhelmed and so writing down a list of your exams helps to de-clutter your mind.
Give yourself time to spend time with your friends and family or to watch a comedy film. Laughing releases endorphins and helps to curb stress hormones so it is a vital part of relaxing.
Often, it’s not the run up to the exams that causes the most stress but the actual period of time where you are sitting the exam. There are two key methods that I use to calm myself down in an exam:
- Tapping it out. This is a technique that works by tapping on the main pressure points lightly (neck, wrist, temple). For me, it keeps me something to focus on whilst I’m trying to calm down.
- Breathing. A technique often used to control panic/anxiety attacks is a certain way of breathing. It consists of breathing in for 4 seconds and holding your breath for 7 before exhaling for 8. This causes an autonomic nervous system shift from a sympathetic (fight or flight) state to a parasympathetic response.
Best of luck
Best of luck in your exams and curbing your stress! If you enjoyed this post, give it a like and consider sharing it with your friends. Likewise, if you have any questions or such, drop me a comment – I’m always happy to answer them and I really appreciate feedback.