In every student’s life, exam stress is natural. It’s one of those opportunities for students to better understand themselves and it teaches them patience and endurance. In Singapore, the major exams like PSLE, O-levels and A-levels serve as checkpoints that students have to get through. These are important determinants of students’ future as they decide the pathway that higher studies and career would take.
Students often struggle to keep themselves calm before and during an exam, which affects their performance adversely. Exam-anxiety diminishes one’s ability to excel in an exam even if he or she has prepared adequately. This is why tuition teachers and school teachers make it a point to teach students some coping mechanisms to deal with exam stress.
Here are 7 ways in which students can tackle their exam anxiety!
You need to declutter you schedule, your room, and your mind. Planning has to start weeks before the exam. If you could plan out how you want to tackle every subject and cover everything before the exam, things fall into place and everything becomes easier. There is less friction in your day since you don’t need to spend every morning thinking about how revision should be done. Planning ahead (exam revision schedule) will ensure that you are prepared sufficiently.
Organising your table everyday will eliminate unnecessary stress of having to find your notes among a pile of files and papers. When you know where you keep your things, you don’t need to go through undue stress of losing important material.
Thirdly, decluttering your mind is of great importance. If you are bothered by feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, feel free to talk to your parents, friends, or tuition teachers Mental health needs to be preserved for optimum performance in exams!
NO.2: SWEAT IT OUT!
Exercise is an excellent way to get rid of your stress and it is probably one of the most common advice everyone would offer. Albeit being common advice, there is truth in it. Physical exertion releases endorphins (opioid neuropeptides which acts as natural analgesics), and decrease the level of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.
With exercise, there is increased blood circulation in your body and this allows for important organs like your brain to get better oxygenation as well. Meditation is also a great outlet to relieve your stress as deep inhalation and exhalation has proven to show great benefits!
NO.3: ADEQUATE SLEEP
The “I’m a night owl” theory is absolutely irrelevant because nocturnal study sessions have been proven to be ineffective and harmful to one’s health. Your circadian rhythm has designed your body to shut down its function and get some rest after sunset.
If you choose to go against the natural design of your biological clock, you will get trapped in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation. This will have detrimental effects on your health and cause you to perform poorly in your academics as cognitive thinking and memory retention become difficult tasks.
Meditation is one of the best ways to achieve a tranquil mind. It does not include anything fancy like chanting a mantra or twisting your body in pretzel-like forms; it’s just deep inhalation and exhalation. A study by UCLA found that long-term meditators had more grey matter in their brain which is thought to be involved in information processing.
Meditation also has considerable effect on the hippocampus as it increases the cortical thickness of that region which is associated with learning and memory. Studies also revealed that there is decreased brain cell volume in the amygdala which governs emotions like anxiety and stress. So, go to bed early and get some good night’s sleep!
No matter how much you try to exercise control over everything that happens in your life, it is important to remember that some events can never be avoided. Life still goes on and unfortunate events may pose as huge hurdles that can be challenging to get past.
You need to learn to compartmentalise thoughts and emotions your mind so that they do not tangle up in a mess. Should thoughts intertwine with one another over time, they become huge distractions which prevents you from being productive during study sessions. You need to be your biggest motivator during tough times.
NO.6: STEP OUTSIDE
Locking yourself in a room and studying for hours on end can be an unhealthy habit. You need to be able to have a change of scenery to refresh and rejuvenate your mind. The brain will be so much more effective in encoding information when it’s not exhausted.
You can switch up your study environment once in a while; maybe move from one room to another, go to the library or the coffee shop to get some work done. Sometimes group study sessions might lessen the burden and make learning more interesting. There is no hard and fast rule so you can do whatever works out for you!
Accepting this emotion will eventually decrease the amount of stress and anxiety experienced. Often times students are bothered by exam stress, and on top of that, they stress about the fact that they are experiencing stress. With some patience and acceptance, half the battle would be won.
When you focus on preparing for the exam, and when you do it with the mindset that anxiety and stress is natural human response, the journey becomes so much easier!