Tips: 5 Easy Ways To Deal With Exam Stress!

Its exam time. Its absolute madness. You've spent all day, everyday holed up in your room under a mountain of papers but, you still don't feel prepared. Does that sound familiar? We've all been there. Finally in my 3rd year at university i've developed some coping strategies so i don't get too hung up on exams and stress myself (and everyone around me) out!

Confidence and self belief that you can smash it:

As much as i really don't want to be talking psychology now after revising this stuff for the past two weeks, i'm going to mention a theory here thats quite appropriate. The idea of 'self-efficacy' (Bandura, 1993) - this is the belief in your own abilities to manage well in a particular situation. Some people feel fine with exams, they're like 'yes, i can do this!' others don't have confidence in their abilities when it comes to exams. So my first tip is to conquer this. Tell yourself you can do it until your blue in the face. Although this also comes with time and practice, the more you do exams the more you feel like you can handle them. I like to tell myself it's not so serious and imagine it is like a mock, this takes of the edge a little bit. Self-efficacy has been found to contribute to academic success (Zimmerman, 2000) so it is hugely important to build that confidence and belief that you can handle it!
Find what works for you
Theres not point me sitting here telling you what i do, you have to do what helps you learn the best. Some people prefer mind maps, some people prefer fully written notes, and others prefer Q-cards. Personally i do all 3 as writing things out a million times really helps. But what is important is that you find the approach that works for you, of course this comes with time. Have a little play around and see what techniques you like best.
Be prepared:
Believe me, self-belief is a lot easier if you have actually done the revision and preparation.
I personally print out monthly calendars, set out all the exam dates and then look when i need to start revising. I will make a checklist to ensure i have covered everything i need to do. I'll then start my notes, practice past questions and create some small Q-cards nearer to the time for 'quick practicing' and remembering names/theories.  This way i know i've done everything i need to do. Don't leave it til the last minute and leave things out. This will just get you stressed and feeling unprepared which isn't good when walking into an exam hall.

This is something that has helped me tremendously these past two years. If you're anything like me and you're an absolute nightmare when it comes to exams then these tips are necessary for keeping yourself and the others around you sane.

Yoga & mindfulness - This is not for everyone but it's really helpful for clearing the mind which, is a life-saver when you're constantly thinking about all the revision. Your brain really needs a break. Allow yourself 1hour a day to just stop thinking. I promise the revision won't be so hard afterwards. 

Get outside & walk - Summer exams are always when the weather is lovely outside so we don't want to miss out on that. Not only is the vitamin D great for your health but walking and doing some light exercise can really help perk you up, leaving you feel more energised and less sluggish which can certainly accompany long revision days. I like to take my mini Q-cards with me, find a spot with a nice view, sit and read through them in the sun. 

Wind down at night  - Getting  a good nights sleep is vital. I know there is a temptation to do some all-nighters or late night early mornings but, in the long run this isn't going to be helpful at all. Your brain needs sleep to function: concentration,  memory, alertness (Psychology Today, 2015). Basically all things we need to do well in exam situations. So get 8 hours sleep, wind down 1 hour before (sorry no phones allowed!) and do something non-exam related e.g. colouring, reading. 

You are worth more than an exam grade: 
Yes exams are important, yes we want to do well. But realising that you are defined by more then a grade is incredibly relaxing and calming. As my nan always says "All you can do is your best". Nan's know best. So just remember that when you're sat in the exam hall. It isn't the be all and end all. Love yourself, look after yourself, be happy and just try your hardest. *cheesy*

Read more:
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28, 117-148.

Zimmerman, B. (2000). Self-Efficacy: An Essential Motive to Learn. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), pp.82-91.



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