Exams are frightening, no doubt, but there are ways to ease your mind and body so that panic doesn’t set in. Panic usually takes hold when you have not taken the time to prepare in a slow and methodical way and when you have stretched yourself to the limit both physically and mentally. Keep things in perspective and follow these tips to help avoid the panic that can occur before and during exams.
Be prepared. The easiest way to avoid the panic attack that ensues before a big exam is to be prepared for the test. Avoid the last-minute cramming sessions and the all-nighters that will negatively affect your thinking ability and state of mind on exam day by taking the time to study over a period of days or weeks if time permits. Work with a tutor, review with your teacher, take online practice tests, or create your own online practice activities. Have a parent, sibling, or friend quiz you on the material. Create flashcards, outlines, and other visuals that you can study and review on your own. Feeling like you did you best in terms of preparing for an exam will help you avoid the panic of taking an exam without having prepared yourself. Even if you don’t have the time to do as much as you would like, having a study plan and sticking to it will put you in control and help you remain calm instead of panicking.
Take breaks and take exceptional care of yourself during the exam period. Being tired, hungry, loaded up on caffeine or sugar, or wound up after hours and hours of study will only make you feel more stressed out and less in control of your circumstances. Taking a proactive stand by eating healthy foods, taking regular breaks, getting enough sleep, and doing moderate exercise will help you gain a sense of control during the stressful exam period. Read a book, watch a funny program, or meet a friend for a snack to distance yourself from the stress of exams for a little while. Obsessing about the exam around the clock will only ensure that you feel panic when exam day arrives.
Talk to someone. For most people, a sympathetic ear is a major stress reliever during difficult times. Talk to a parent, teacher, friend, counselor, or another helpful person if you are feeling exceptionally panicked during exams. Someone else’s perspecitive will usually bring you back down to reality when you have created a worst-case scenario of panic and failure in your head. Ask for help or advice if you need it. Take frequent study breaks and talk about something completely unrelated to school and exams. Try to remember that, in the scheme of things, this is one exam in one subject in one class and that you have a lifetime ahead of you. While exams are important, don’t make them into something bigger than they are. Make sure to share your feelings with a loved one if you feel panicked. Reassuring words will put you in a calmer frame of mind.
Talk to your teacher rather than panicking about what may be or may not be on the exam. Teachers don’t want students to fail their exams as much as students might think they do. Most teachers prepare study guides and are happy to help you after school if needed. If you need some reassurance that you are studying the correct material, meet with your teacher and share what you are doing to prepare for the exam. A good teacher will let you know if you are on the wrong track. You might also ask your teacher for names of students who might want to form a study group or participate in a one-time study session with the teacher.
Panic is a normal reaction to a stressful event such as an exam, but by feeling like you have some control over the situation, you can lessen your feelings of panic and remain calm during exam time. Adequate preparation, healthy habits, frequent breaks, talks with a loved on, and help from your teacher are just a few ways to take charge and feel like you have done your best to prepare for a stressful exam. Most of all, keep things in perspective.