How to Stay Balanced During Exam Weeks


Exam anxiety is quite common for most students, especially during finals week. Research shows that a little anxiety can improve your performance by boosting the release of adrenalin which enhances how you respond to challenging situations. However, extreme anxiety can hinder performance when it comes to showcasing your academic and cognitive abilities.

Fortunately, there are various ways you can manage your exam stress levels to promote alertness and set yourself up for better performance. Some key pointers are listed below:

  1. Indulge in physical activities
    Regular exercise is an excellent way to manage your stress. Getting involved in physical activities facilitates the release of endorphins which help to enhance your mood. It also assists in boosting your energy levels and distracting your mind from your upcoming exam(s). Such activities include taking a walk, bike riding, going to a yoga class, some hardcore cardio, among others.
  2. Have someone to talk to
    Do you experience intense panic before the exam? It would benefit you to speak to your tutors, parent or classmates. It gets easier if you share your worries with your peers, who can help you to keep the exam in perspective. If that doesn’t help, try talking to your school’s guidance counselor.
  3. Relaxation training
    Proper relaxation techniques are useful in relieving tension and helping you prepare for your exams. Such practices include deep breathing and meditation, and they are geared towards mindfulness. Through meditation, a student can focus on the current situation and acknowledge their anxiety and physical reactions. They can visualize themselves sitting for the exam and learn to control the stress prior to the actual exam day. Also taking a few deep breaths during the exam can help you control your anxiety and concentrate on the questions in front of you.
  4. Avoid procrastinated cramming
    Most students tend to wait until the last minute, mostly the night before their finals exam day to study for the test. This is not advised since you are more likely to get overwhelmed by the multitude of topics you are required to cover and the lack of time you have. Ideally, develop a consistent study routine several weeks before the exam. Try spending more time studying for the test to give you adequate time to ask questions, apply your knowledge to practice questions, and get clarifications where necessary. The more prepared you are, the lesser the likelihood of getting panic attacks.
  5. Get a good night’s sleep
    Getting plenty of rest is essential to boost your concentration and thinking. You understand better when you study with a fresh mind. Several hours of panicked, last-minute cramming the night before the exam may seem helpful, but it serves you no good. Commit to having a scaled balance between sleep and study during the exam week. Teenagers should have at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep. 8-hour sleep is OK for adult learners.
  6. Eat a balanced diet
    Hunger is known to worsen anxiety. It also starves your brain of the essential nutrients that are required to boost your concentration levels. Avoid consuming foods that contain high amounts of sugar, fat, carbohydrates, and caffeine. They are unhealthy, and they will only make you irritable, hyperactive and moody.
  7. Take a break from social media
    Social media can be the antithesis of productivity. It is distracting and can thus leading to divided attention. If you study with a phone beside you, you are likely to waste a considerable amount of your study time texting, waiting for emails, or checking social media. Consider turning off your social media during study hours if not for the entire exam week. Switch to Do Not Disturb Once you’ve finished your studying, you can reward yourself by going on your phone and spending time on social media.

    About the Author:

Eliza is a co-founder of Tutor the People. She works mostly advising students on their academic and professional pursuits, and matching students one on one for MCAT prep, GRE tutoring, CPA prep, LSAT test prep, and GMAT tutoring.

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