It’s that time of year: exams are approaching, and for many students, anxiety levels are rising. A small amount of stress can be beneficial, helping us to focus and motivating us to succeed. But too much pressure is detrimental to exam performance, and it’s no good for our mental health, either. Follow these top tips to help reduce stress during exam season.
Last-minute panics are extremely stressful, and can be very distracting. By planning ahead, you can avoid any foreseeable eleventh-hour glitches, helping you to focus and give your all to the task at hand.
• When you receive your exam timetable, make sure you note down the date, time and location of every assessment. Plan your journey and aim to get there at least half an hour before the exam is due to start.
• Read the rules and regulations carefully. If there’s anything you need to bring or prepare, make sure you are aware of this well in advance.
• Plan your revision time realistically and try to stick to it, so that you know you’ll have ample time to cover everything in the syllabus. If it helps, set your own mini-exams for practice, or form a study group with your coursemates.
• The night before your exam, a good night’s sleep is likely to be more beneficial than last-minute cramming. Pack a bag with everything you’ll need the next day, set an alarm and go to bed early.
Look after yourself
It’s amazing how much more we can achieve when our minds and bodies are well-nurtured. When the pressure is on, eating well and exercising may be low on your list of priorities, but by taking some time out to look after yourself, you’ll find that you are capable of so much more.
• Eat well. Keep your blood sugar stable and feed your brain with a diet of wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and oily fish. Stay hydrated and cut down on caffeine and alcohol if you can.
• Exercise. Getting active will help your body to cope with the demands of exam season, and it’s also great for your mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a full-on gym session, physical exercise will boost your brain power, help you sleep and act as an effective stress buster.
• Meditate. While you’re revising, it can feel as if your mind is overloaded. Give yourself space to think of nothing at all, in a yoga class or meditation session. There's tonnes of apps and information online to help you clear your mind and relax.
Seek help if you’re struggling
It’s normal to experience anxiety at a stressful time in your life, and the exam period definitely qualifies as one of those! Those who need extra help, or find studying a bit more challenging than most, may feel the pressure even more. Remember that help is available, so there’s no need to worry in silence.
• Your university will have a dedicated team within Student Services who you can contact for support.
• Find out if your uni has a Student Minds support group.
Don’t forget that our e-Learning course NT Academy: Success with Study Skills can help you to improve your study skills ahead of your exams. Students in receipt of Notetalker Pro can use their Notetalker code to access the e-Learning course for free.
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