At eighteen perhaps you can afford to be a bit blasé about exams: as a mature student, you know that you can’t. That exam pass matters to you. Remember that some stress is helpful – it will fire you up to succeed. Too much will paralyse you. So here are some tips that might help you to reduce that stress to an acceptable and helpful limit.
1. Look after yourself physically:
* Eat properly and at sensible times: junk food will fill you up, but won’t provide the nourishment you really need.
* Get the sleep you need: staying up all night to revise simply means that you will be too tired to do anything worthwhile the next day – and if the exam is the next day that’s seriously bad news!
* Get some exercise: don’t sit studying all day – go for a walk or to the gym, anything that gets the blood moving.
* Alcohol will make you depressed or euphoric: neither is helpful so avoid it.
2. Make a revision plan:
* Know what you need to revise and plan out each day.
* Don’t plan to work all day – revising is tiring and you need to have breaks. Note how long you can revise before you lose concentration and use that as a guide to plan breaks in to your schedule.
3. Revise efficiently:
* Reading reams of notes is tedious and unhelpful: summarise the key points on any topic and put them on postcards – you can carry these around and revise anywhere – at the gym for instance!
*Past papers will help you to identify the topics likely to be asked and you can plan out possible responses for each topic. Keep these responses loose though, because the topic may not come up in the form you expect.
4. On the day of the exam:
* Give yourself time to have a proper breakfast or lunch.
* Read through your notes again.
* Give yourself time to get to the exam room without rushing.
* Don’t get sucked in to stressful conversations with other candidates – it will simply pass their stress on to you!
5. In the exam room:
* Make sure you have everything you need – pens, water, even a mascot if that helps!
* Some deep breathing before you start will help you to relax.
* Read the exam papers carefully – make sure you know what is expected of you in the time given.
* Divide up the time properly – if there are four tasks you must finish them all: don’t spend all your time on one task because you know most about it.
*Plan out answers before you start each one.
*Ignore what others are doing: people do odd things in exams – faint, stare in to space, pay frequent visits to the toilets, hum, eat etc
* Whatever you do, don’t leave early: It is a simple fact – if you leave early you haven’t completed the exam properly.
6. After the exam:
* Avoid post mortems – discussing how you did with other candidates will only increase your stress levels.
Following the above tips should help you to relax, to perform to the best of your ability and most of all to be successful.