11 Tips to help learners cope better with exam stress

Photo: The therapy team blog

Before and during exam time, it’s normal for learners to feel pressure and stress. While a little bit of stress can motivate you to buckle down and work hard, it can also have an adverse effect, causing constant fatigue, headaches, increased irritability, feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, increased heart rate and poor appetite, which in turn negatively affect studying and results.

Here are the best tips for minimising exam stress:

1. Be prepared
Ensure you know what is expected from you in the exam, and that you have all the notes and books, as well as the best technological resources on hand that you’ll need to study.
Ask your teacher what you can expect in the test, and what type of questions will be asked.
Exams generally test four levels of thinking: basic (for example, memorising facts), complex (for example, inferring something from something), routine (for example, a maths times table), and critical thinking (for example analyzing and interpreting). Knowing what is expected of you will help you know how to prepare, and where you should be directing your studying and thinking.

2. Set up a study space
A comfortable space to study will not only increase your concentration and motivation levels, but also help you feel more secure, and calmer.

3. Find a study method that works for you
Not everyone takes in, understands and remembers information in the same way, so if a friend’s study method doesn’t work for you, don’t stress! You may study best through intense repetition, through visualisations or finding real-world examples, by making (sometimes silly) associations or by creating drawings of concepts that reflect how your brain understands them. Put in the effort to read up about and trial different ways of learning and find the way that works for YOU.

4. Divide your studying into smaller chunks
Study sessions are effective in shorter chunks of about 30 minutes over several weeks, rather than crammed into a stretch of several hours without any breaks.

5. Exercise
Research has shown that a 30-minute workout session every day not only boosts your health, but your brain too. Exercise has been shown to aid memory, attention and the rate at which we process information.

6. Eat and drink well
Keep your blood sugar levels steady to prevent energy dips, and avoid quick-release carbohydrates such as sweets, biscuits and chocolate in favour of lean protein, pulses, fruit and dairy.
Stay hydrated with water, and try to limit caffeine drinks to three a day. If you battle to sleep at night, avoid consuming caffeine in the evening and night.

7. Take regular breaks
Try to take a break every 30 minutes for a few minutes to have a snack, go for a quick walk, or chat to a friend. This helps the mind and body to relax, and “regroup” away from the studying.

8. Create a study plan
By creating a study timetable, you’ll not only feel more productive when you tick items off your list, but you’ll also feel more in control of your studies, rather than the other way round.

9. Get enough sleep
Sleep helps you assimilate new knowledge into your memory so that you can remember it on test day.

10. Limit your distractions
Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are fun to read through, but if you’re doing it every 20 minutes, you’ll be wasting a good portion of time on social media. No one is saying that breaks aren’t useful, but just watch how you spend them, and ensure you’re not wasting it.

11. Share the load
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, chat to someone like a family member or friend, or school teacher or counsellor. It not only helps to offload and not feel so alone with your feelings, but you might get some good advice too.

Source: Top Dog Education @ www.mytopdog.co.za.
Compiled by Seithati Semenokane / Courant News