When it comes to exams, everyone deals with the apprehension we feel in different ways. There are people who just breeze through exams and studying with seemingly little effort. But for the majority of us, when an exam approaches, stress levels can run high.
If left unmanaged, the stress of studying and preparation can leave us drained and burnt out, leaving little energy for the exam itself. So it’s useful beforehand to start preparing to prepare. Preparing isn’t only about cramming knowledge in before the big day, but ensuring that mentally we are in the right place when we sit down to write our paper or take the exam. Here are five handy tips to ensure that you make the best of your preparation time.
Write It All Out
When it comes to stress, we can tend to have a habit of letting our internal dialogue dictate our mood. We catch ourselves sitting in front of our books or computers, staring vacantly into space, and before we know it an hour has gone by and we’ve achieved nothing, driving us further into stress. Sometimes we see this as a character flaw which is holding us back, that we’re easily distracted or spend too much time ‘daydreaming’.
But these moments of reflection are our way of attempting to solve a seemingly insurmountable problem. If you find yourself slipping into the cycle of internal questioning, it’s a good idea to get a pen and write it all down. In the act of writing it down, we are both affirming our worries and issues and addressing them. In the act of writing, we have put our worries at a distance, so that we can analyze them and group them into tangible subjects that can be addressed.
Schedule Your Time
Having written down what issues you might be facing, it’s important to get into the habit of organizing them into time-specific tasks. To-do lists and prioritization tasks are central to time-management skills, and once used effectively can come in very useful in our careers. But it also helps us to visualize our end goals in a more realistic way.
Planning out each task and the time you give it can be time-consuming in itself. Although you should attempt to stay on schedule, you should also understand that some flexibility isn’t a bad thing, and you need to make time for self-care and relaxation.
Take Regular Breaks
Part of self-care is to take regular breaks, so make sure you put some time for breaks in your schedule. Burnout from stress is detrimental to your health and wellness. Spending time reading or in front of a computer for long periods can cause undue strain on your eyes, leading to headaches. It’s also unhealthy to stay inside for too long. Studies have shown that taking regular breaks outside can lower stress levels, even if these breaks are as short as five minutes.
“Taking regular breaks means that you can return to your revision with a clear head, seeing your tasks with fresh eyes,” says Sue McCluskey, author at LetsGoAndLearn and Viawriting, “Seeing the task ahead in a new light helps mitigate the stress it may cause.”
Hunger can be distracting. When we crave food, our cortisol levels go up and we get stressed. If we wait too long, we end up carb loading or binging on sweets. A good way of combatting this scenario is to keep ourselves well stocked with healthy, stress-busting snacks and drinks.
Eating too much sugar or caffeine will actually increase your stress levels, so before you go and buy that energy drink, try opting for green or black tea instead. Ditch the gummy sweets and instead opt for some pistachios or blueberries – equally as snackable but better for you in terms of stress and brain power.
At one time or another, we all end up ‘burning the midnight oil’. We believe that in order to maximize efficiency we have to extend our day into the early hours of the morning. “Sleep is crucial to performance,” says Robert P Russell, contributor to Studydemic and Academized, “Reducing how long we sleep affects our productivity as well as our health.”
Studies have shown that lacking sleep is a sure way to increase your stress levels, and in turn, stress can affect your sleeping patterns. Getting stuck in this cycle is a sure way to ruin your exam preparations and will affect your performance during the exam itself; but don’t worry! With these tips from GradGuard, your exam season should be a little easier.
BIO: Chloe Bennet writes for Revieweal and State Of Writing on a range of subjects such as education and finance. As an expert on administrative support management, she enjoys writing for Essayroo.