7 tips to minimize exam stress
Raumil, a class XII student, is under pressure. His neighbor, Tirth, scored 91 per cent in the Class XII exams a year ago and Raumil's parents expect him to perform a lot better.
He isn't the only one in such a situation. With less than a month left for most examinations, many students find themselves weighed down by expectations. Comparisons, parental expectations and peer pressure are major concerns for students attempting their board exams. These concerns bog students down, leading to severe examination stress. The term 'exam stress' can be broadly defined as a feeling of anxiety over one's performance in the exams, the results and reaction of parents and friends; all weigh upon students to create exam stress.
The final exams for Class XII and Class X start on February 21 and March 7 respectively. For those of you who are appearing for these exams, here are tips that can help minimize the stress.
i. Revision tips Develop a timetable to monitor your progress. Make sure you allocate adequate time for fun and relaxation as well.
While revising a subject, practice writing. This would be an actual simulation of the examination itself. Plan your revision and complete it in time. This will give you a sense of achievement and build your confidence. While revising, vary subjects and their difficulty so you don't get bored or disheartened. Set realistic targets of what you can achieve in the time available.
Spend as much time on recall as on reading. Practice by writing answers as you would do in the exam. This will help you remember the important points when you answer each paper.
Practice writing answers under exam conditions. Take three hour tests, without a break in between, preferably at the same time as that of the exam. This will help your body clock adjust to the examination time and conditions.
ii. Time out To prevent mental fatigue, take a short break as soon as you notice your mind is losing concentration. Stick to activities that do not break your study continuum during these breaks. Avoid television and loud music. You will then be able to come back to your revision refreshed.
It is important to relax. Your mind and body perform at their best only if you get adequate rest.
iii. Maintain a regular sleep pattern A regular seven hours of sleep is mandatory for the body to function well. Also, sleep at a regular time; don't alter your sleeping cycle.
It is not important whether you study late or get up early, as long as you get into the habit of being most alert at the same time as that of the exam.
Try and stop working an hour before bedtime. You will find it helpful to do some muscular relaxation, which is particularly effective in relieving stress.
iv. What to eat Food rich in vitamins and proteins, such as green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits, are a must.
The nutrients will help your brain stay sharp. Avoid food with high fat content.
Don't drink too much coffee, tea or fizzy drinks. Caffeine will keep you up and reduce the clarity of your thinking.
v. NO distractions Keep all unimportant issues at bay. Right now, the board examinations should be your only focus. Stay away from distractions that could cause loss of concentration or unwanted anxiety. Stick to activities that do not break your study continuum.
vi. The power of positive thinking Spend time with people who have a positive effect. It will rub off on you. Avoid negative thoughts, such as 'Everyone else seems better organized, while I'm struggling.' Challenge such thoughts with positive thinking; for example, 'I have done well in exams before.'
vii. Practice relaxation techniques Practice deep breathing, meditation and yoga as forms of relaxation. They help your body relax and reduce stress. Alternately, take a brisk walk in fresh air after your day's revision is over.
If you believe in God, pray before you start studying. Prayer will help you increase confidence reduce your stress as well.
And yes, lots of luck with those exams.