Divija, a post-graduate student shares her best tips for dealing with exam stress.
The most difficult part of the year is here again – Exam season. Exams may be just a few hours of writing down answers on the actual exam day, but a lot of hard work goes into the preparation. Of course, not all of us study for the exams in advance and sometimes we may only be left with a few weeks to finish all the syllabus.
We are often told that we should only focus on studies during exam season as that’s what is the most important. But this does not mean that we completely ignore our mental health. The more we ignore it, the more stressed we will feel. This will just make the whole process of studying a negative one.
Here are 10 tips to help stay focused and not let exam season be the most stressful time of university life.
1) Organise your surroundings – Before you start the process of studying, organise your desk and clean your room. De-cluttering not only helps to bring clarity in life but can also help you feel responsible and ‘adult’. This will ensure that you concentrate and study hard for the exams with minimal stress. However, it is possible to get carried away and use this as an excuse to procrastinate. Know when to draw the line.
2) Make a schedule – sometimes we procrastinate so hard that even if we want to start studying, we can’t get ourselves to. The best way to start is to plan it out. Make a timetable so you can reflect on how many days you actually have to complete the syllabus.
3) Stay realistic – Many students plan a schedule for themselves but are not able to follow it because it was too unrealistic. It is important to be aware of our studying capacity and not overwork ourselves. In such cases, planning will only lead to more stress.
4) Don’t compare yourself to others – while it is great to chat with your friends and socialise as a way to reduce stress while studying, it can lead to discussing how much of the syllabus we have completed. This is a huge mistake because not everyone is equal and has the same intellectual capabilities. It is very important to not compare yourself to anyone.
5) Reward yourself – Studying constantly can be very difficult as you will only get the return after the results come out. This can easily make you feel demotivated and a way to combat this is to reward yourself. If you give yourself small rewards for each step, it will help to motivate you and stay interested.
6) Enjoy the process – exams are always viewed as a negative and stressful situation which no one wants to go through. It might be a good idea to take a step back and change your thoughts about exams. Instead of viewing them in a negative way, why not try to see them as a challenge? This could help reduce the amount of stress you undergo and may even help you enjoy the process of studying.
7) Do the more difficult thing first – nobody likes to do the most boring or hardest part of the syllabus first. But this can create more stress in the end as you may already be tired and not feel like doing the most uninteresting section of the syllabus. If you start with the part you find the most difficult, you can feel relaxed at the end of your study session as you are left with just the easier sections.
8) Progressive muscular relaxation – if you feel that your stress is going out of control and you cannot concentrate on studying at all, progressive muscular relaxation is a good way to feel better. It is a relaxation technique for reducing stress and anxiety where you learn to get aware of the physical response of your body to stress to relieve psychological stress.
9) Take short breaks – it may be easy to get so involved in your study that you forget to take breaks. This may be one of the reasons why you feel stressed. The key is to take short breaks to help calm your mind and stop it from getting overworked. One of the great ways to take a break is to look at memes related to exam stress. It helps to know that there are many people around you going through the same thing as you and might even make you smile.
10) Take care of yourself – Don’t let the exams take over your health. Sleep well, eat well and drink plenty of water.
If the stress gets too much, there are plenty of services offered by the University which can allow you to discuss the problems you are facing. Contact our Wellbeing support if you need to talk to someone: