I hate tests, quizzes, and mid-terms, and, worst of all, final exams. For years, they made me so miserable, then I learned how to eliminate stress before and during an exam. If you have a big test or exam coming up, here are the things I do to help calm my nerves so I can focus on getting an A!
1. Avoid Caffeine
You might think coffee or Red Bull will keep you awake and alert so you can study, but it will only make your jittery and unable to concentrate. Skip the caffeine and drink water instead.
2. Get Plenty of Sleep
Don’t stay up late the night before the exam trying to study, or worse, partying with your friends. Your brain needs sleep and rest before the big day, and feeling tired will only make you more stressed.
If you have time, exercise a little before the exam to get your blood flowing and to get rid of any pre-exam jitters you might have.
4. Try Yoga
If you don’t have time to exercise, or you don’t want to, then try some yoga or stretching to help calm you and focus your attention.
5. Watch Your Breathing
If you are starting to feel stressed during the exam, close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few moments. Breathe in deeply through your nose, then blow it out slowly through your mouth. Slow down, and repeat a few times. You’ll feel better, less stressed, and ready to continue.
6. Don’t Try Everything at Once
Don’t try to quit smoking or start a new diet before an exam. The stress of the exam will make it harder to stick to your new goals, or, worse, trying to stick to your new goals will make you too stressed to even think about taking an exam.
7. Avoid Nay-sayers
Keep away from the people in your class who just want to complain or worry about the exam, rather than study and provide encouragement. They will only bring you down and make you worry, and that’s the last thing you need.
8. Know the Details
When and where is the exam? What do you have to bring? How long will it take, and will you be able to use your textbook or your notes? Make sure you know all of the details, so you don’t have to scramble and stress over them later.
9. Study, but Don’t over-do It
If it’s two days before the exam, chances are, you already know the material. Rather than try to cram everything from the class into the next two days, review your notes to refresh your memory. You’ll be surprised how much you remember on your own.
10. Take Breaks
When you are reviewing or studying, take frequent breaks. Studies have shown that people learn and recall best when they study for twenty minutes, then take a ten-minute break before studying again.
11. Get a Study-buddy
I always learn and remember better with a study-buddy! If I’m confused about something, or just need a little extra encouragement, having a friend right there is a great idea.
12. Be Prepared
Make sure you have the right tools for the exam. Will you need to bring a Scantron sheet? Pencils? Erasers? Your textbook, a calculator, notes? Set everything aside so you’ll be prepared before the exam.
13. Know the Score
Find out from your teacher or instructor how much of your final grade is resting on this one exam. Chances are, even if you don’t do as well as you would like on the exam, you can still get a good grade in the class. Knowing this in advance may help take some of the pressure off.
14. Keep a Positive Attitude
If you think you’ll do well, chances are, you will. If you think you’ll do poorly, and you keep telling yourself that, you will do poorly. So focus on the things you know you’re doing right, and keep a positive attitude!
15. Eat Right
Make sure to eat a good breakfast on the day of your exam. By good breakfast, I don’t mean an Egg McMuffin or a plate of donuts. The grease and fat from the McMuffin will make you feel heavy and bloated, and the donuts will give you just a brief sugar high. Have a bowl of whole-grain cereal (like Cheerios), a banana, and a tall glass of orange juice instead.
These twelve tips have worked wonders for me, and I follow them to this day. Junior high, high school, college, any student at any level can benefit from them. Did I miss something? Do you have a ritual that helps you calm down for an exam? How do you eliminate the stress of a big test? Please let me know! I’d love to hear it, so I can try it. Thanks!
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