The dreaded time of the year, the exam season, is just around the corner. It is not uncommon for students to feel the burden of having all their knowledge from the previous months put to a test. To make the most of all the effort and time put towards studying it is vital to be in charge of one’s stress levels. Feeling confident and calm allows you to give your best performance and the exams to be a real reflection of the skills you have gained.
Here are some tips on how to use the stress you might experience to your advantage and put a check on the excess of it.
Preparing for your exams is a semester-long enterprise. Try to attend as many lectures as you can, make legible notes and ask questions when you don’t understand something. That way, come exam period, you will feel much calmer and prepared to revise. If you have to write some final papers and/or make presentations, try to schedule the time for them so that you have enough time for rereading and making any necessary changes. The more you procrastinate, the worse and out of proportion a task will seem.
Voicing your worries and anxiety can help ease it! Don’t hesitate to reach out to your friends and family and tell them about what is troubling you. Sometimes also just simply their presence is enough to make you feel better. You might also try talking to the university staff: have tea and voice your concerns at the International Office or maybe even talk to your professor.
While it’s understandable that the exams are your top priority at this moment, taking care of other aspects of your life at this moment is important too. Give yourself space for your hobbies, spend time outside, and don’t give up on a healthy number of hours of sleep.
Your physical condition is closely linked to your mental state – so, to make sure you feel your best, take care to feed your body healthy, nourishing food! Taking some time for a physical activity of your choice, be it running, working out, or simply a little bit of stretching can work wonders for decreasing your stress level and promoting a healthy perspective. Don’t use the lack of time as an excuse – use an even just 10-minute-long study break to do a few yoga exercises or to put on your favourite song and dance away. You’ll be able to come back to your studies refreshed and in a better mood.
Keep a calendar, virtual or physical, and plan your activities. That will give you a clear outlook on what remains to be done and revised and take away some of the anxiety of having to deal with too much. Similarly important is to take care that the space around you isn’t cluttered. Piles of books, scattered notes and dirty dishes all over your desk will distract you from learning and create an overwhelming feeling. Take a five minute break to bring your empty mugs to the kitchen, put the books back on the bookshelf and organise your notes.
Spending a whole day in the library or at your desk alone in your room can be quite depressing. Even if your exam schedule does not allow you to spend time outdoors or with your friends for some time, try to appreciate the small things around you that make you happy: a cup of favourite tea, a beautiful sunset, music that you enjoy. Soon the exam period will be over and you will have more time for the things you are missing now.
Breaks are vital for your brain to perform to its full potential. Don’t push them back or rely on the feeling of tiredness: schedule your breaks into your study schedule! You might want to try out some study methods like the Pomodoro method, which alternates 25-minute high-focus study sessions with 5-minute breaks. Plan what you’ll do during the breaks as well to avoid mindless, unproductive scrolling through social media: will you use your break to make yourself a meal, go on a quick walk, do a few stretches, or read a chapter of your favourite novel?
While it’s no wonder that everyone is focused on themselves during this period, taking the time to remember about your fellow students who are also struggling through their exams can boost the mood of both of you. Surprising a friend with an encouraging message or with their favourite snack can make their day, and it always feels good to share kindness 🙂
It is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when all wrapped up in the pressure of the exams at hand. Try not to spiral and remember that one exam or worse grade is unlikely to have a lot of influence on your overall university experience. Be confident in the knowledge you have and keep in mind that you have taken and successfully passed many exams in the past – you already have achieved so much to be where you are now!
You’ve got this – and we have our fingers crossed for you 🙂