Exam season is the most stressful time of year for university and college students. While some students excel at this type of test format, many do not and it’s not hard to see why. Studies have shown exams are not an efficient way to test a student’s knowledge. Unfortunately, exams are still used to determine 25% or more of a student’s final grade. For this reason, it’s important that students go into their exams as prepared and calm as possible. Easier said than done, right?
We’ve previously covered the best study hacks to help students prepare for exams. Today, we’re going to focus more on mental health and discuss 7 stress management tips for students writing exams.
Go for a walk
Keeping your head down focused on your studies is a great way to prepare for exams … as long as you remember to take breaks. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to go for a walk. Walking is not only good for your physical health, but boosts memory and brain power too. If you’re stuck on a particularly hard concept or set of questions, getting outside for a walk can help you reflect on what you’ve learned and return to your studying feeling refreshed.
Set a schedule and stick to it
Look, we’re not going to judge if you’re one of those people who can cram the night before and ace the exam. If this works for you, go ahead and stick to it. However, most students don’t benefit from this kind of exam prep. What we’re saying is you’re going to want to create a study schedule for yourself. Feel free to put in as much or as little detail as you want but at the end of the day, having some sort of plan to follow will keep you on task and motivated. Check out College Info Geek’s guide for some great tips on how to create your own study schedule.
Listen to music
Listening to music is a great way to create a calming, positive environment for yourself. Certain types of music can give your mood a boost and spark motivation. While it can be difficult for some students to concentrate on studying while listening to music, there are ways to make it work. We’ve outlined different genres that make for a great study aids in a previous blog post but when in doubt, pick something without lyrics. Classical or ambient music both do the trick!
Get enough sleep
We all know how important sleep is for our well being. Yet, many of us don’t get enough of it. University and college students in particular have poor sleep habits and honestly, it’s hard to blame them. Between homework, classes, part-time jobs, and a busy social life, students are under a constant time crunch every semester. However, if there’s one time of year to focus on the quality of your sleep, it’s arguably exam season.
Sleep helps your brain retain new knowledge, so it really goes hand-in-hand with studying. Plus, getting a good night’s sleep before an exam will help lower stress and help with concentration. It’s also a good idea because the last thing you want is to wake up late for the exam because you spent all night cramming!
Remember to breathe
Microbreaks not only help your mind refocus but they are essential for practicing mindfulness. Breathing exercises or meditation are an effective way to calm your nerves and centre your mind on the moment at hand. Throughout the entire exam season, it’s important to remember to take time for yourself. Many students put themselves under too much pressure and in turn, have a lot of anxiety around exams. Just remember to take a few breaths, let go of negative thoughts and most importantly, believe in yourself. You got this!
Talk it out
We’ve previously discussed the importance of studying and trading notes with friends. However, discussing upcoming exams with other students can also be beneficial for your well-being. Talk out any anxieties or misgivings you may have about an upcoming exam. If they’re a good friend, they will listen and offer advice, even if it’s just reaffirming your capabilities.
Emotional support goes a long way in navigating stressful situations so if you’re feeling in need of help, make sure you ask for it. Your school also has councillors at the ready to help with exam stress should you need it, so don’t be afraid to drop in or make an appointment.
Tune others out
On the other hand, sometimes the best thing you can for stress management is to stop listening to other people altogether. Many of us know how toxic social media can be for our moods and well-being. Comparing ourselves to others’ highlight reels is a recipe for disappointment in our own lives. The same holds true, to an extent, for studying with others.
It’s definitely helpful to go over notes with others, but make sure not to get too caught up in comparing your study habits to others. Doing so can cause unneeded stress, as you start to question whether you are as prepared for exams as your peers. The truth is you are likely doing fine. Trust in your own methods and don’t let other people dump their own stress on you.
For more exam stress management tips, check out our list of study hacks and which genres of music you should listen to while you study.