Coping with Exam Stress
What is stress?
Although we tend to think of stress as caused by external events, events in themselves are not stressful. Rather, it is the way in which we interpret and react to events that makes them stressful. If you have time you may like to read why it's Important to approach exams in a positive frame of mind.
Counsellors on the different campuses can also help you. People also react differently to stress. For some, it improves task performance or is needed to get us started; but for many, stress can also impede our ability to perform well.
Exam anxiety/stress can have a number of causes. Understanding the cause for your own stress may provide insights into managing that stress, such as:
- being physically or mentally unwell
- lacking confidence in your abilities
- disliking the subject
- often performing poorly in exam situations
- being poorly prepared for the exam
- being overwhelmed by the amount of information to be learned
- not knowing what to expect on the exam
(Source: Muskinham College. (n.d.). Causes of tension and stress. In Learning strategies database. Retrieved November 1, 2007, from http://www.muskingum.edu/~cal/database/general/causes.html)
One of the best ways to avoid becoming stressed when faced with an exam is to be well prepared. Don't leave your study to the last minute. Be sure you are aware of when, where the exam will be held and the exam format. None the less, some students do get anxious despite being well prepared. The following may help those students.
Stress management tips
Not everyone deals with stress in the same way. The best way for you is to do whatever makes you feel that you have control over the situation. Many stresses can be changed, eliminated, or minimised. Here are some things you can do to reduce your level of stress:
- Become aware of your own reactions to stress
- Reinforce positive self-statements
- Focus on your good qualities and accomplishments
- Avoid unnecessary competition
- Develop assertive behaviours
- Recognise and accept your limits. Remember that everyone is unique and different
- Get a hobby or two. Relax and have fun
- Exercise regularly (meditation, yoga, swimming)
- Eat a balanced diet daily
- Talk with friends or someone you can trust about your worries/problems
- Learn to use your time wisely
- Set realistic goals
- Set priorities
Some further helpful advice is found in a series of web documents at Muskinham College where you will find a number of 'overcoming' strategies for exam stress and anxieties: