We all have been in that place where the mind stops functioning due to all the stress surrounding an upcoming exam. This makes learning more difficult as most of students' time and energy is spent on fighting the stress rather than studying itself. It is important for students to get over the nervousness surrounding an exam to be able to perform to their full potential.
Here, we discuss some tips which can help you to calm those nerves and perform well in the exams:
Start with smaller goals
Set up your study goals and take one step at a time to not overwhelm yourself. Give yourself plenty of time to accomplish these goals and other things you have to do before the exam. Build up confidence by reviewing the material frequently, in small blocks of time each day for several days before a exam every day.
Stress busting activities are designed to let you concentrate on your bodily reactions and control breathing to let any anxiety settle down. Engage in deep breathing for 2-5 minutes. Close your eyes and concentrate on the air going in and out of your lungs. Take long, deep breaths, fill your lungs and abdomen, hold your breath, and then exhale. Tense and relax different muscle groups.
Approach the exam with confidence
Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: visualization, logic, talking to yourself, practice, team work, journaling, etc. View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you have studied and to receive a reward for the studying you have done. Tell yourself positive things and be determined to stick to your plans even if something goes wrong. Giving the exam with a negative approach can further reduce your chances if doing well. Don't give up before things even start. Maintain a positive attitude and do not think about failing.
Don't go to the exam with an empty stomach
Try to have food items which reduce your anxiety levels. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress. Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices.
Try to reach the exam hall before time and take a final look at the notes or listen to music or maybe just silent, depending upon what works for you. When you receive the question paper, read it carefully to understand the directions and distribute time accordingly. Give the exam at your own pace and do not get intimidated by the speed of your batch mates etc because you do not know what they are writing or what exactly is their strategy.
Talk to yourself to inspire positive attitude
Tell yourself things which will motivate you to do better and be more relaxed. This involves: Thinking about rational responses to counter negative thoughts e.g. instead of saying “I’m going to fail this test” say “I have the ability to do this, I just need to get some help". Thoughts that help you to cope with stress e.g. “a little, anxiety is helpful will just try my best" and thoughts that keep you on task e.g. “I can write this paper if I break it into smaller steps.”
Things to do while giving the exam
The stress busting activities like deep breathing and muscle relaxation can be performed again to bring down the stress level. Start with easier questions and later jump on to more difficult ones to not mess them up due to stress of not knowing things. You can also drink water and think about the post-exam rewards to motivate yourself further. Avoid thinking that you need to know everything. Even if you miss certain questions, it is important to realize you can still score high. Also avoid attaching more importance to a test than it deserves. Don't panic thinking that you won't be able to finish the test within stipulated time. Most tests are designed in a way that they can be finished in allotted time, so you do not have anything to worry about.
Things to do after exam
In order to avoid these scenarios in the future, indulge in reviewing your work. List what worked, and hold onto these strategies. It does not matter how small the items are: They are building blocks to success. List what did not work for improvement in future exams so that you do not repeat them and fall prey to carelessness. Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle.
With these tips and strategies, we hope that you will find yourself less nervous in future and exams will not be as dreadful as they seem now.