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Coping with exams

Working towards exams can make us feel under a lot of pressure, especially at University. There may be no choice about taking exams but there are definitely things we can do to reduce the stress that can come with them:

  • Get things in perspective - Exams may seem like the most important thing right now, but in the grand scheme of things, they're only a small part. They don't define you as a person. Whatever happens you can still be successful in life.
  • Get organised - Ensure you know where and when exams will be held, marking criteria, what materials can and cannot be brought into tht exam room. Picture your exams as a time bound project. Break down revision into chunks and form a plan. Book in free time. Don't panic if you go off schedule, you can start again tomorrow.
  • Bad habits to avoid - Don't set unachievable goals, nobody can revise ten topics in one day. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, drugs - these all negatively impact your concentration and wellbeing long term.
  • Good habits to get into - Take regular breaks. Find out when and where you work best. Keep active. Eat well and drink pletny of water. Get into a regular sleeping patter, try and go to bed and get up at a regular time to make sure you get a decent amount of sleep.

Tips for the exam itself:

  • Don't panic - Some nerves are normal but panic is counterproductive and you won't be able to think clearly. If you do feel that you are starting to panic, take some slow deep breaths. If your mind goes blank focus on your breathing. If you still can't remember the information, move onto th next question and return to it later.
  • Take a bottle of water into the exam if you are allowed.
  • Remember, the invigilator is there to help you.
  • Read the questions / instructions carefully, then re-read to ensure you are confident of what is expected of you.
  • Prioritise what needs to be done. Pace yourself. Give yourself time to proof read your answers.

After the exam:

Standing around and joinging in with the exam post mortem can often be discouraging. Don't spend time worrying and criticisng yourself for what you think went wrong. Congratulate yourself for what you know you did right.

Reward yourself for your hard work. Do something you enjoy. Let the stress of that exam go, especially if you have more exams coming up in the next few days / weeks.

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