Top Ten Tips: Dealing with Exam Stress
By Shalini from the Student Team
Exam season can feel very overwhelming, no matter whether its on campus examinations or remote exams- worrying about revision and exam preparation in addition to all your usual daily tasks like cooking, laundry and maybe even a part time job. That’s why we’ve put together a set of Top Tips on dealing with exam stress, to help you stay calm and composed even during this stressful period!
If you’d like to listen to the Ten Top Tips, find our podcast episode here:
# Tip 1
Find out where your exam will be held, check out the format of the exam beforehand and make sure you’ve got all the equipment you need.
It’s so important to be aware of the time and location of your exam in advance so that you can plan your day out. Pack a clear pencil case with all your essentials. Make sure your calculator (if you’re allowed one) matches the requirements of the types of calculators that are allowed to be used in exam rooms. Taking note of the deadline of a remote exam is also extremely crucial, and it can be useful to schedule in time to complete the exam as soon as it’s assigned to you.
# Tip 2
Get a good night’s sleep before the exam- it is much more beneficial than late night cramming.
Cramming is one of the least effective ways to learn a subject. Research has found that many students cannot retain much information after a cram session. A big reason why it doesn’t work is that it dramatically increases a student’s stress levels. This stress has a negative effect on their ability to concentrate, making preparing for a test even more difficult. Being rested before an exam will make you feel clear headed and focused. This means that you will be at your full potential to do your best.
# Tip 3
Everyone copes with things in different ways. Friends might be able to suggest something you haven’t tried before
People have different revision styles and techniques. It’s always a good practice to experiment with different things before figuring out what works for you. Asking a friend what they do to deal with exams might help you figure out new ways to keep yourself motivated and be productive.
# Tip 4
Make sure you take time away from your desk or laptop and give your brain a break. Relaxation time is an important tool.
Breaks are essential in order to ensure efficient revision. Giving yourself a break will help you clear your mind and be on the top of your game at all times. Whereas if you keep pushing yourself to work even when you’re exhausted, you’ll find that you don’t really remember much of what you have learnt.
# Tip 5
Revision plans are a great way to structure your time but don’t fret if you unexpectedly need to dedicate more time to one module, just make sure to rearrange your schedule.
Sometimes, you may find that some modules require more attention than others. This may mean that you have to prioritise and plan your schedule in a way that you can still cover everything you need to know. One way to make sure to catch up on everything is to make a list of what needs to be done and then arrange your schedule accordingly.
# Tip 6
You can’t concentrate effectively for more than eight hours a day so plan fun things to do in your free time. It will help you stay motivated and gives you a chance to give your brain a break.
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, especially during exam time. Plan a special meal with your friends, or treat yourself to an evening of self-care after your revision session. This will help keep you motivated and resilient as you’ve let yourself relax and you can get back to working hard.
# Tip 7
If you’re stuck or are worried about something, make sure you talk to someone to solve the problem. There’s loads of support available- make the most of it!
There’s support available for any kind of problem that you may be having. You can always email your tutors and academic advisors if you require anything. There’s also the Student Support office if you need to talk about specific problems. The Library will be running Exam Extra with loads of useful sessions like ‘Calm your brain and have a croissant’ which is a mindfulness session followed by breakfast. This is a great way to start your day relaxed and focused. There will also be ‘Relax and Recharge’ which is a session where you can take a break from revision and clear your mind by doing some meditation, colouring, Play Doh and Lego. Besides, there are online resources from the library in dealing with exam pressure, where you can find them here at: https://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/using-the-library/students/training-and-skills-support/my-learning-essentials/online-resources/?level2Links=exam%20extra
# Tip 8
Impostor syndrome is the feeling that you don’t belong somewhere- but remember, the university wouldn’t have offered you a place if they didn’t think that you were good enough.
University is an overwhelming time for all students. Imposter syndrome is a common feeling among students and can be incredibly isolating. It is a pattern of behaviour where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having these feelings but it is important to remember that you are here because you deserve to be and have achieved the academic requirements.
# Tip 9
You’ll do much better in your exams if you stay motivated and healthy. It may not seem like it, but there’s more to life than exams.
Everyone’s heard the saying ‘healthy body, healthy mind.’ It is so important to ensure that you’re eating nutritious and balanced meals to keep yourself focused this exam season. There are lots of hot food options available on campus, for example at University Place, the Students’ Union and University Green if you need to grab lunch or dinner. There are also microwaves available at the Student’s Union, and in lots of other buildings, if you want to heat up your home-made food. You can also try bringing in healthy snacks like fresh or dried fruits, nuts or granola to keep you fuelled throughout the day.
# Tip 10
Remind yourself why you’re at uni in the first place and make sure to keep your goals in perspective.
Keep striving towards your goals and remind yourself that these exams are just a small part of you achieving them. Staying motivated is difficult, but with a positive attitude, good planning and some hard work, it is achievable.
All in all, this exam season make sure to get adequate rest, ask for help when you need it, eat healthy and stay motivated!
Good luck with your exams!