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Exams fast approaching? Don’t panic!

By: Christine Ridgeon, Outreach Officer, Next Steps South West

Not panicking is easier said than done as the exam period can be a very worrying and stressful time, but there are things that you can do to help yourself during revision time and at the exam itself. Learning to cope with exam stress is an important life skill that can be learnt by anyone and once you’ve got the knack of it, it can help with a variety of times when you might be feeling nervous, anxious or stressed.

During revision time, it’s important to revise in manageable chunks and take plenty of breaks. You can only take in so much information at any one time. Anyone who has had to sit through a double lesson of their least favourite subject will know that your concentration disappears very quickly. Usually this happens whilst clock watching and waiting for break time to arrive.

Reward yourself and take time out! Whether it’s half an hour to watch a favourite TV show or an evening off to meet your friends. It will help to recharge your batteries and feel more refreshed when you go back to the books. However, don’t do what one of my friends did and forget to go back to revising. He spent an hour revising and decided he needed a break and got distracted by anything and everything that was more interesting than revision. Luckily for him, he did this for the mock exam. He not only failed it but also got a lecture from his teacher about putting in the work. He didn’t make the same mistake for the actual exam. If you’re a gaming addict or a social media junkie, time yourself. Set an alarm on your phone for a realistic amount of time that you can spend away from revising and then you’ll know when it’s time to get back to work.

Everyone is different and when it comes to revising this is still true. Some people work best revising alone and others like to team up to get through as much information as possible. Find the way that works best for you. Some people will be easily distracted working alone and find it better to work with people who can keep them on task. Others will get distracted working with friends and find it easier to focus working alone. Find what works best for you.

The revision is done and the exams next, how to cope? Preparation for the exam starts the night before. Stop revising a good few hours before bed. Pack your bag and make sure that you’ve got everything that you will need. Pencil case, glasses, water. Are you allowed to take mints or a bottle of water into the exam with you? Check the rules and then make sure that everything is packed and ready to go for the morning. Set multiple alarms for the following morning. This will be one time that you definitely don’t want to sleep through your alarm clock. Preparation is done! Now, take some time out and do something different before bed. Watch a film, listen to some music or spend time with your family. This will help you to relax before bed and hopefully aid a restful night’s sleep.

On the morning of the exam, leave yourself plenty of time. You don’t want to feel rushed. Eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water. It sounds very obvious, but feeling hungry or getting dehydrated during the exam won’t help with your concentration. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to school. If you travel by bus or get a lift with parents then think about leaving slightly earlier than normal. If the traffic is particularly bad that morning you won’t want to get stuck in it. Arrive nice and early and you can relax at school, while everyone else is still fighting through the traffic.

At the exam, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and calmly work through each question one at a time. If your mind draws a blank, move onto the next question and come back to it. The more you panic about something that you can’t remember the more likely you are to struggle to remember it. Moving onto the next question will keep your mind occupied and might help you to remember. Re-read your paper towards the end of the exam and make sure that you haven’t missed any questions. Leave the exam hall secure in the knowledge that you have done your best and no one can ask anymore of you then that.

So, you’ve read to the end of this and realised that you are procrastinating. Now is the time to get back to your revision. Good Luck!

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