There is no doubt that a lot of stress comes with the HSC exams. With the anticipation in the days or even weeks leading up to exams, it can be really hard to stay cool, calm, and collected at this time — so we’ve come up with some tips to help you reduce that stress.
We want to avoid those mental blanks, panic attacks and feelings of anxiety when it comes to exams, so here are 5 things you can do to help resolve this!
Let’s get started!
Tip #1: Have a Plan For Your Study
More often than not, mental blanks come from a lack of confidence in yourself and your understanding of the content at hand. The truth is, you most likely have enough knowledge to answer the question, but when you are finally allowed to flip the exam booklet open, the words on the page don’t seem to make sense.
The best way to stop these mental blanks is to study consistently before the exam. Knowing that you have studied your hardest in the lead up to the exam instills confidence in yourself!
Turn this into a literal plan! Write a to-do list for each subject where you just brain dump everything that you want to cover before the exam.
It does not need to be an extravagant plan, just a simple list that tells you what needs to be done and can help you prepare thoroughly for the exam.
Tip #2: Get Enough Sleep The Night Before
Research has proven that if you don’t get enough sleep in the 17 to 19 hours before your exam, your cognitive performance is the equivalent to being over the blood alcohol level. If you do not get sufficient sleep, which is around 7 to 9 hours, you will essentially be completing the exam drunk!
You will not be on your best game and you will feel irritated, less focussed, and are more likely to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Put simply, catch those Zs in the lead up to your exam and you will feel a lot calmer and less stressed!
Tip #3: Avoid Friends That Freak You Out
We all have those friends who may be the kindest people you have met, but when it comes to an exam being around them just stresses you out. Whether it be seeing their notes, or the feeling that they are more prepared than you, this energy is unlikely to help calm those nerves before an exam.
The best solution is to distance yourself from them before the exam. This does not mean that you stop being friends, just allow yourself to be alone if that will help calm your nerves.
Often standing outside the exam room with friends flicking through pages and binders of notes can unnecessarily freak you out.
Let them know! Just say you want to get yourself into the right headspace and focus on your own. This will reduce the stress you feel before getting into the exam room.
Tip #4: Do NOT Study Your Notes Right Before the Exam
As counterintuitive as this sounds, flicking through your notes as you wait to enter the exam room actually does more harm than good. Realistically, how much of that pile of notes are you really going to remember in the 10 minutes before an exam when you have been studying weeks before? Not very much!
So, instead of flicking through your notes and freaking out over what you don’t know, our exam stress tip is to just refer to your notes if something pops into your head before an exam that you want to double check.
Rapidly trying to read your notes like you have photographic memory will probably freak you out and it is more likely you will get into the exam room and have a mental blank. Channel calm energy and remember that you have already studied for this exam!
Tip #5: Have a Plan For the Exam
Picture this: you are going on a road trip to a new place, but you do not have a GPS signal and have not packed a map. You have no idea where you are going, when to exit the highway and which direction to even head in!
You would probably be very stressed and driving around aimlessly trying to find your way!
The same feeling applies to exams. If you do not have a plan for your exam, you can expect to sit down, open the paper and just blank out. You might get rushed with an overwhelming feeling and flip through the questions unsure of where to start.
Write a plan of attack! The night before, or even a couple days before the exam, figure out your plan for the exam. Map out: how long will you spend on each question, will you complete the paper in order?
Know what needs to be done and get into that exam with a plan!
These are just 5 simple tips that you can follow to reduce stress and prepare for any exam. You want to be on your best game, and these strategies can help you stay calm yet confident in the lead up to, and during an exam!
Looking for some extra help with study or more exam stress tips?
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Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.