Exams

Controlling stress and anxiety

It is normal to experience some level of anxiety or stress just before and during an examination. This is appropriate and helps spur us on. However, occasionally our stress levels might surge unexpectedly and throw us off balance at just the wrong moment.

There are four likely times when this might happen:

  • On the way to the exam
  • Outside of the exam room
  • Waiting for the examination paper
  • During the exam.

Open All (to print) | Close All

It is normal and natural to feel some stress associated with tests and exams.  However, that stress should not prevent you from studying or thinking clearly in the test or exam.

Signs

There are a variety of indicators or signs for anxiety including:

  • feelings of irritability and/or uneasiness
  • heart palpitations
  • muscle tension and pain
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • shallow breathing
  • dizziness
  • muscular tremors
  • repetitious thoughts
  • excessive perspiration
  • change in sleep or eating patterns.

Reducing anxiety (University of South Australia)
This comprehensive site outlines the signs and how they affect your ability to study.
http://www.unisa.edu.au/counsellingservices/wellbeing/anxiety.asp

With exams, you will probably be asking yourself questions like:

Will I pass?
Do I know enough?
Will I be able to remember everything?
What if they ask something I do not know?

Steps that you can take to help reduce the level of stress affecting you:

Identify what it is that you are stressed about.
What can you do to address these issues?
Stay healthy and physically strong - practise relaxation.
Start revision early and stick to your revision plan.
Think positively – recall other areas of your life where you have succeeded against the odds.
Acknowledge your competence.

Keep reminding yourself of the following points:

  • Even though you have may have prepared thoroughly for the examination you will never be totally prepared.
  • You will never know everything there is to know about your subject so focus on the main issues, ideas and points.
  • You do not have to give perfect answers.
  • Exams are designed to test what you know, they are not designed to fail you.
  • There are worse things than exams to endure.
  • Most people end up passing most of the time.

This is a potentially risky time because you will be surrounded by many other students feeling just like you - anxious and stressed out and other students who seem to be very relaxed and light hearted.

There are several things that you can do to minimise being influenced by other people’s negativity.

  • Keep reminding yourself of all the positive thoughts that you had on the way to the exam.
  • Avoid discussing with other students which areas you studied (or did not study), what you know (or do not know), and so on.
  • Avoid discussing possible exam questions or topics with other students.
  • Avoid asking yourself what you know about some topic - there will be time enough for that once the exam has started.
  • Try to stay relaxed by focusing on calming and positive thoughts.
  • Relax yourself by taking some deep breaths, hold them in and then count slowly as you let them out.
  • Do not worry about an exam that you have already sat earlier in the examination period. You can no longer do anything to influence the outcome of that exam. However, you can still influence the outcome of the exam that you are about to do.
  • Focus your thoughts on what you are about to do, not on what you have already done.

Remember that you have done all that you can possibly do to prepare for the exam. The time for worrying about what to expect has long passed.

Sitting in the examination room waiting for permission to begin reading the exam paper is typically the period of highest tension and anxiety.

You should:

  • Relax yourself by taking some deep breaths, hold them in and then count slowly as you let them out
  • Clear your mind of negative thoughts;
  • Determine to use the adrenaline rush to your advantage
  • Focus on calming, positive thoughts
  • Not be distracted by the students around you.

Keep reminding yourself:

  • There is no reason to worry because you are well prepared
  • You will pass.

Keep telling yourself that you will pass.

In most cases you will probably be too busy to worry about not passing. Occasionally, however, you might find that you are running out of steam with a particular question. This can be a dangerous moment in an exam because it opens up the possibility for you to lose your focus and concentration.

There are several things that you can do if you find your thoughts drifting away from the task at hand.

  • Refocus
    Try to refocus your energy. Relax yourself by taking several deep breaths, hold them in and then count slowly as you let them out.
  • Reassess
    Decide whether to persevere with the question. Will your time be better spent on another question? You can always come back to this one when you have completed the other required questions. It is possible that you might remember things to use in this question while doing another.
  • Remember
    Keep reminding yourself that:
    • You do not have to give perfect answers
    • Exams are designed to test what you know, they are not designed to fail you
    • You do not have to write down everything that has been written on the subject, just the main issues, ideas or points relevant for the question.

Feeling stressed is one of the most common student complaints at university.

Stress is a normal reaction to unexpected events in everyday life.

However, our stress level increases if: we are faced with something new, unexpected, or unknown (or potentially catastrophic!).

Physical symptoms

There are a number of physical symptoms that alert us to a stressful situation:

  • Our heart starts to race, signalling an increase in the production of adrenalin
  • Our breathing becomes shallower
  • We are edgier than usual
  • Other symptoms

Fear of the unknown

With exams, you will probably be asking yourself questions like:

  • Will I pass?
  • Do I know enough?
  • Will I be able to remember everything?
  • What if they ask something I do not know?

Steps that you can take to help reduce the level of stress affecting you:

  • Identify what it is that you are stressed about
  • What you can do to address these issues
  • Stay healthy, physically strong ... practise relaxation ...

 

For further information contact ALLSP on (08) 89467459
Assignment Scheduler
Time Management Calculator