Whether you are in Year 6 and preparing for the transfer test; or a teenager studying for end of year exams, GCSEs, AS or A Levels; or working your way through College or University – exam stress can suck!
Exam stress is a pain in the neck. In fact, it can be a pain in the head and stomach. Here are six tips which might help. Go on, give it a quick read, it can do no harm and it might just help.
1. Keep It Real
Don’t talk yourself down. Remind yourself that you know your stuff. It’s all in there, it just feels overwhelming. Of course, there are some subjects or modules which you are struggling with – that’s normal. If your mates are saying everything is sweet, they are probably exaggerating. Exams need to be taken seriously, with a plan of attack and effort. BUT exams do not define you. Exams do not require some superhuman, super clever miracle. Don’t underestimate how much time you will need – make a plan and get on with it. It’s important. but it’s not the only thing that matters, so don’t turn it into a drama and keep your approach simple but effective.
2. Be Honest
Be honest with yourself. Don’t make excuses that suddenly you just have to go to the party; you just have to do the extra hours at work; you will start studying tomorrow. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t put it off. Embrace what needs done and give it some attitude. Just start. Then repeat. Break it into smaller chunks and take the wins. Each chunk of studying is a win.
Be honest with parents. They’ll understand you are niggly or short tempered. They will tell you not to worry, that it will all be ok. What would they know? Oh yes, they did exams when they were younger. They worried and stressed. They know it can feel all consuming and hopeless. But look at your parents. It worked out ok. Maybe it feels crap today. Maybe you just want to hide in bed. Maybe if you just focus and give it your best shot, it’ll work out ok.
3. Take The Help
Ask a teacher to help you with something or ask the lecturer to be specific on what is expected of you. Big sisters and brothers, you can help. Not by asking the obvious question of “how is the studying going?” or, “are you ready for the exam?” That’s going to get a simple answer to humour you and stop the conversation. Offer to help, perhaps by making a light snack or running through questions, or helping create a quiet time out in the house.
4. Feed Your Brain, Not Your Impulse
Pizza, burgers, chips, crisps, chocolate, cheese toasties! All yummy and exactly what you crave, either to cheer yourself up or get a quick pick-me-up but its short lived and then you want more. You might feel a little bit cosey, but that’s short lived too, and then you’ll feel a bit moody or agitated. The carbs slow you down, make you feel tired and before you know you don’t have any energy to study. Energy drinks and coffee also give that short term effect so stock up on tasty but lighter snacks such as bananas or nuts – and normal drinks like sugar free cordial (if you think water is boring) or a glass of milk or a cup of tea!
5. Pat Yourself On Your Back
In your plan, give yourself rewards and time out. That doesn’t mean spend hours and hours on social media, but once you’ve completed a few hours study, take an hour doing something which makes you happy. Go sit on the grass and enjoy the sun on your face. Go to the cinema or watch an episode of your favourite TV programme. Listen to music or visit older relatives. Do something you enjoy. Then get back to studying.
Take a deep breath each morning and remind yourself, it’s all going to be ok. When you’re studying and feel the pressure build, take a deep breath. When you can’t sleep, close your eyes, switch off your phone, think of something nice and take several deep breaths until you switch off your brain. When you sit down to the exam, and you worry you’re about to go blank, take a deep breath and think about the keywords, then the main sentence in your head. Get that written down and the rest will start to build. When you come out from the exam, take a deep breath and remember, you did it and you can do it again. When you get results, take a deep breath and remember you did your best and you can try again if you need to improve.