Taking any kind of exam can be an incredibly stressful affair. However, for GCSE students, who are faced with having to take a lot of exams over a short amount of time, as well as finishing off coursework, it may well be the first time that they have had to deal with so much exam stress. Fortunately, if this refers to you, there are some ways to cope with the stress.
Start revision early
The most important way to avoid undue stress while studying for GCSEs is to start in plenty of time. You really need to start your revision at least two months in advance. Draw up a timetable so that you have the chance to cover all the topics necessary. Work out how you learn best; you may need visual aids, in which case, look on the Internet for help, or you may need complete silence, in which case, the library may not be the best location for you. Do what suits you and not what others tell you to do.
Ask if unsure
One of the best things about starting to revise in plenty of time is that you will have the opportunity to ask if you are unsure about anything. Your teachers should be only too pleased to help you with anything that is unclear. You should also ensure that you are covering all the necessary topics so that there are no surprises when it comes to the exam. Getting together with friends may also be a good idea, provided that you stick to the task at hand. Sometimes different people see things in different ways and can help provide a different perspective.
Factor in plenty of breaks
A sure-fire way of becoming stressed before exams is if you leave everything until the last minute and then don’t have time to take proper breaks. You need to rest your brain in between study sessions so that the information has time to sink in. Aim to revise for no more than thirty or forty minutes at a time, then have a ten-minute break. Just make sure that you don’t get distracted during your breaks and end up watching a television programme instead of carrying on with your revision. It may be comforting in the short-term, but long-term, it will add to your stress.
Make use of study aids
You should have GCSE course books and your notes to revise from, but it won’t do any harm to use other study aids to help cement your knowledge. If you’re unclear about what study aids to use, ask your teacher. Looking at past exam papers is also a great idea, especially once you have done some revision. If you set yourself the time that it will take to do the exam, you will get used to managing your time and you will put what you have learned into practice. Once you’ve done a couple of past papers, you will be able to relax, safe in the knowledge that you know what to expect.
Talk to your parents
Parents can be either a help or a hindrance when it comes to taking GCSEs. They may be overly helpful, wanting constant updates on how much revision you have done. On the other hand, they may be oblivious to the fact that you have exams coming up and expect you to do your chores as usual. Sit down and discuss with them what you need. If you want to be left alone to revise, or there is something they can do to help you, let them know. When you are about to take GCSEs, the last thing you want is to fall out with your parents.
Stress is much more manageable if you have something to look forward to afterwards. Plan to do something fun, or see if you can persuade your parents to treat you to something you want. The idea of a treat once you have finished will keep you going during the long evenings before and during your exams when you have to study rather than go out and enjoy yourself. You could also plan smaller treats for after each session of exams, especially if you have several within one week.
Ensure you have everything you need
At least the day before each exam, make sure you know exactly what you need to take with you and that you know exactly where to go. Some exams, especially mathematics and science, may need a calculator and other instruments, so make sure you know exactly what is necessary. Then make sure that you turn up a few minutes early. If you’re relying on public transport or a lack of traffic, leave home much earlier than you usually would. If something goes wrong and you arrive late, you will be even more stressed than necessary.
Your GCSEs will be over before you know it and you will move on to other things. However, you still want to avoid as much stress as possible by managing it in a sensible way.