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Exam Stress Taking Over? Top Three Tips on How to Calm Exam Nerves.

Every year, students across the country must take numerous exams, but how do you deal with the stress of it all?


Exams are daunting things; being brought into a silent room full of hundreds of other students. A single paper can bring so much worry. But this isn’t how exams should be seen. In my opinion, I feel like exams are often dramatized in the idea that it will make people want to revise more or make people try harder. But unfortunately, this only adds to the stress. Although stress is just a response to pressure and some is good (as it helps you to focus on your goals), too much can cause it to be hard to process and remember information during lessons. If this carries on for a prolonged period of time, it can have serious effects on how a person performs both academically and in everyday life.


Many adults fail to realize the amount of stress an average teenager has during exam times; psychologist, Robert Leahy stated, “The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.” This speaks a lot about today’s society and how exams are portrayed. For some, even the word ‘exam’ makes them worried. But it doesn’t have to be this way.


My top tips to stay on top of stress:

  1. My first tip is understanding what the point of exams are. Knowing this extra little bit of information can help calm your nerves and every student should be familiar with this.

Exams, depending on what they are for, can have many positive effects on your learning. For example, an exam can be a form of learning activity; helping you remember and recall things you have learnt. Sometimes, your exams are to prepare you for what more important exams will look like (GCSEs, A Levels etc.). They are also used as an indication as to how much information people have taken in during lessons and what teachers must go over again. Exams are not just a ‘pass or fail’ situation, they are a learning strategy.


2. Most commonly, people find it hard to focus on their revision and wrap their head around the concept. I know for many; this can be a main struggle and conclude in feeling flustered.


“‘I felt frustrated because I didn't know how to revise, yet everyone else could.’ – Ash, Year 9”


So, as my second tip, I suggest trying out many different revision techniques. Sometimes having a method that works for you can make you feel more confident in revising, resulting in getting better marks. A couple of effective revision methods that I highly recommend include partnered quizzing, having flash cards dotted around your home (question and answer or information), Cornell method (typically split into multiple sections: recall, main info, and summary) and dual coding (linking pictures with concepts).


3. My final tip is mental preparation. Sometimes we get so caught up in revision and focusing on the subjects, that we forget to look after ourselves and our mental health. These things can be so simple yet end up being neglected as a result of exam anxieties.


Getting enough sleep seems a bit cliché, but is truly an important aspect of preparing for an exam or everyday life. Poor sleep can affect your memory, creativity, and logical thinking, reducing your chance of achieving the best that you possibly can; always aim to sleep the recommended amount for your age group. For teens this is roughly around 8-10 hours.


Eating sensibly before an exam is also especially useful. Some people tend to over eat when they’re feeling worried whereas others don't eat enough and it’s important that you establish this. Eating nutritious food beforehand can help you to feel more alert and physically comfortable during an exam; things such as fruit or veg are generally simple yet amazing choices.


Make a point to stay hydrated too as dehydration causes lethargy and can make you feel weary. A hydrated brain helps the transportation of nutrients to the brain and keeps out the toxins, this is crucial for concentration.


One of the more forgotten tips is putting the exam into perspective. It is only an exam; it doesn't define you as a person. Cut yourself some slack and focus on positive thinking. Remind yourself that it will all be ok, that you can do it. It’s one of the most straightforward methods yet it is so effective in helping you to feel better about yourself and the exams.


Remember to take frequent breaks during your revision and make time for yourself, try not to let the work consume your life. Try splitting up your work into a few smaller sections and have little breaks in between so you can have a rest. This helps to keep you focused and to make sure your brain takes all the information in and doesn't get bored as well as keeping you engaged in the learning.


To conclude, exams aren't really anything that you should worry about too much. As long as you try your best at whatever you are doing and giving it your all, then you are doing great.


By Gracie L, Year 9

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