Every student who wants to perform well experience exam stress. It is inevitable in education life.
With huge syllabus and curriculum to follow and the immense pressure of family and teachers to meet, exam time is the worst time in student life. According to Elizabeth York, M.Ed, LPC, LMFT “An understanding of the basics of stress management may help.”
Exam stress is overwhelming nowadays. The growing competition, number of subjects and the pressure of grades bring such pressure that students fail to give the best performance in the answer sheets.
Reactions to Exam Stress
Any type of stress affects the mind and body. When students undergo exam stress, they are expected to show the following symptoms:
- Feeling irritable
- Increased heart beat
- Disturbed sleep and appetite
- Sweating and heat flushes.
Psychological and Behavioral Reactions
- Increased emotional responses like crying and swearing before the exam.
- Nail biting and teeth grinding
- Fidgety movements
- Going blank and forgetting everything during the exam
- Negative and self-blaming talks.
Factors Causing Exam Stress
To reduce exam stress, we first need to know what causes it. Here are few factors that cause exam stress:
- Low motivation
- Lack of preparation and hard work
- High family expectations
- Unhealthy peer competition
- Higher self-expectation than potential
7 Tips to Reduce Exam Stress and Improve Performance
Even high achievers fail to perform well in their exams and the reason is exam stress they have been under. There is a whole bunch of things that can be done to reduce exam stress. Here are 7 simple tricks that can reduce the exam stress:
- Plan your time – One reason that increases exam stress is procrastinating till the last minute. Follow a schedule, break up the time you study into chunks. Exam stress is less when the preparation is not crammed for the eleventh hour. As Mark Twain has rightly said,” Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
- Relax and breathe – Let the stress out. Take short breaks from your study time. Allow yourself to relax, take deep breaths, and listen to music. Bringing out the “me-time” refreshes the mind and lets you concentrate back better.
- Practice -The feeling of uncertainty and self-doubt is another factor that causes exam stress. You can take practice tests before exams, solve the answers, discuss them with friends and teachers. This may boost your confidence and reduce the stress level before exam
- Visualize success – Exam stress brings negative thoughts like
“What if I cannot reach on time?”, “I think I’m going to fail”. Instead of the negative thoughts, try imagining yourself getting a high grade, scoring a top score and achieving what you want. Visualizing the positive picture gives the motivation to keep up the hard work.
- Stay healthy – Stress and anxiety affect health. It is commonly seen that students lose sleep and appetite before exams. With reduced energy, students find it difficult to concentrate. Make sure to eat well and avoid junk food, get enough sleep and take time out for exercise to keep your mind and body healthy before the exam. You can do Yoga. According to Emily Griffiths, LPC, “You’re hydrating and calming your brain at the same time by letting things flow in reverse for a while.”
- Talk out – Talking to family, friends or teachers about the stress helps to perceive the stress positively. It reduces self-doubt and lets you focus on the work. Taking advice from a wise person also helps in realizing self-potential and manage the standards you have set for yourself accordingly. It is very important to set your goals depending on your potential. Too high or too low self-evaluation, results in great disappointment and increases self-doubt.
- The 4 P’s to reduce exam stress
- Plan effectively.
- Proceed positively
- Prepare purposefully
- Perform persistently
Never fail to show up. The fear of under-performance should not hold you back from giving it your best. Break free from anything that distracts you. Taking it easy is not very hard after all. According to Rhonda Williams, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, “Develop your own professional and personal support system with not only those who support you but those who will challenge you if you are exhibiting signs of burnout.”