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Exam Tips

Managing Exam Stress

Remember it’s normal to experience stress at exam time.

The following stress management techniques will help to manage and reduce feelings of stress and tension.

  • Challenging negative thoughts
    • Replace worrying and negative thoughts with positive statements or your fondest memory.
    • In your minds eye, see yourself taking charge in a relaxed, confident way.
  • Relaxation and breathing exercises

    The practice of relaxation exercises can prevent a build up of tension and give a sense of calmness.

    • Breathe in deeply, counting slowing up to 5 then, as you exhale completely, count slowly back to 1 and relax all your muscles from head to toe.
    • Hunch up both shoulders, so they almost touch your ears and hold for 20 seconds before relaxing.
    • Tighten your stomach muscles, holding and then relaxing.
    • Imagine you are a rag doll, limp and relaxed.

  • Eat, sleep, drink

    If you want to perform well on the day of an exam you need to ensure that you:

    • Eat well. It is widely known that good nutritious food has a big impact on your cognitive performance. Make sure to eat three good meals a day.
    • Get enough sleep in the lead up. Most healthy adults require between 7 - 9 hours of sleep per night.
    • Drink plenty of water! Simple as that.
  • Engage in regular physical exercise

    It is proven that physical exercise can benefit both our mental and physical health. It is important to schedule time for exercise and relaxation.

    Remember that exercise does not have to be strenuous! Being able to get outside for a short 15 minute walk can make a big difference.

  • Keep worrying thoughts under control
    • Refocus on what is happening around you, in your physical environment.
    • Concentrate on lines in a book or other people’s conversations. Recreational activities allow your mind to become refreshed.
  • Reduce alcohol intake

    Alcohol can have a negative impact on all aspects of life if not taken in moderation.

    A heavy night of drinking can effect you for a number of days afterwards which could impinge on your performance in an exam.

    During an exam period it is advisable to stay away from alcohol. There will be plenty of time to have a few drinks with family and friends when the exams are over.

Exam Taking Strategies

There are many pressures that come to mind when we find ourselves in the middle of an exam situation. However, there are ways and means of staying calm and supressing some of the stresses and anxieties that come with that exam paper that lands on your table in front of you. 

  • Read the paper thoroughly
    • Read each question a number of times before attempting to answer. 
    • Underline key parts of each question.
    • Ensure your name and student number is on all answer sheets.
  • Start with your strengths

    At the start of the exam you should play to your strenghts so ensure to first andwer the questions you are most confident with. A good start is half the battle!

  • Stay calm and relax

    The easiest thing to do straight away is to panic.

    Remind yourself that all you can do is your best. You know a lot more than you think so if you just keep your cool and get started everything else will work itself out.

  • Take your time

    You don't need to rush straight into the exam once you get your paper. Take a bit of time to compose yourself and scan through the paper, marking off some of the questions that you know you can answer.

    Once you have taken a minute or two to get a glimpse of the paper you will be ready to tackle your first question.

  • Use all the time allotted
    • Use the any remaining time to check your paper. You may notice some mistakes or information you forgot to include.
    • Make sure to try and attempt all questions before you leave the exam.
  • Use time wisely
    • Be aware of your time limit. Plan your time accordingly.
    • Wear a watch and allow time to attempt each question asked.
  • Cheating

    Don't even think about it!

    There are invigilators in the exam hall for a reason. If you are suspected of sneaking in notes or cheating in other ways during the exam you are at risk of being disqualified from the exam and may have to face a disciplinary hearing.