5 Tips And Techniques

Exam DayCredit: clairer






Exam Day Looms

Unfortunately it may be that time of the year again for you when you are taking exams. Be them school, college or beyond, ballet, music performing or even your driving test, no-one enjoys the pressure, stresses and anxiety that are so often associated with taking them. However, there are actions you can take to help eliminate the worry around this hectic time. Whilst some of the following tips mainly apply to classroom or written tests, there are still points which are relevant to all tests in a broader sense. I hope that these five tips can help ease your studying concerns and worries in even just a little way.

Remember that everyone goes through these emotions and experiences so you are not alone. If the pressure of looming tests is interfering with your daily functioning, diet and sleep then do seek out medical assistance or talk to a family member or friend about it. Also, perhaps mentioning your concerns to your teacher could help, as they too may have great advice and tips to offer you and to help you out during this busy time.

Exam NotesCredit: cohdra

1. The Day and Night Before an Exam

Certainly, anyone will tell you that getting a full eight hours sleep is going to be beneficial the night before an exam. However, I am yet to find someone that has achieved this! Admit to yourself that you are anxious and stressed and that this is a natural way to feel before an exam. Tell yourself that this is a ‘normal’ reaction and that the adrenaline will help you focus and concentrate tomorrow.

The day before an exam try to do some exercise. Take yourself out for a nice walk or go to the gym. Not only will the exercise help clear your body of toxins, it will help you to sleep better and to find more energy in the day time.

In addition, try to eat healthy and balanced meals. For example you could have porridge for breakfast, chicken and salad for lunch, and fish, steamed vegetables and potatoes for an evening meal. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. The last thing you want is to wake up feeling dehydrated and stressed because your body needs water. (Nutritional advice is discussed further below in tip number five).

Exam OatsCredit: Seemann

2. The Morning of the Exam 

It is important to give yourself plenty of time to get ready and prepared for the day. So the night beforehand, set your alarm at least two hours before the exam start time and preferably a little earlier. Have a shower, get dressed and eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast such as porridge with honey. Porridge would be a great choice because it is a slow release energy carbohydrate which means you will feel fuller for longer. This is also useful because you probably will not have very much of an appetite at this time, so at least if you have some oats or even an oat breakfast bar then your body will thank you during the exam. You do not want hunger pangs to take over your concentration during the test.

Take a bottle of water and remember all of your equipment. Double check your exam schedule and where you have to go and the time you should aim to arrive to the building.

During the morning getting ready, allow yourself fifteen minutes to look over all your notes. Try to briefly glance at everything but then stop once fifteen minutes is up. Relax, and take several deep breaths in and out. You have done everything you can at this point, so clear your mind and prepare to make your way to the exam.

Exam ClockCredit: gracey

3. During an Exam

Remember to write your name on the paper as it is surprising just how many people actually forget to do this. During the exam, do not be afraid to ask questions if you need to, the exam invigilators are there to help you if they can. Take in a clear bottle of water to stay hydrated if this is permitted. However, remember to remove any labels from the bottle as this will not be allowed. Try not to over drink too, as then you may need a bathroom break which would take away from your precious exam writing time.

Take along a clear pencil case for your stationary items so that they are not only visible to the examiners, but also to help yourself remember what you have packed. For example with a maths test, double check if you are taking your calculator in or equipment such as a protractor as the invigilators may not have spares.

Use every minute of the exam when you think you are finished to check through your answers. You may be able to go back to a section and remember something else which could get you more marks. Ask for more paper in advance if you are going to need it. This is because the invigilators may not get to you immediately and this could save you a few minutes of valuable time, especially if you are someone who works right up until the final minutes of a test.

Exam GradCredit: hmm360

4. After an Exam

Well done for getting through your exam! You may have missed out questions, mulled over some pages for too long or forgotten a piece of useful information which came back to you the minute you left the exam room, but there is nothing that can be changed now, so relax! It can be extremely difficult not to judge oneself and criticize all the mistakes you may feel you made. It is natural to do this but it will not achieve anything positive.

Spend the rest of the day getting on with other things and let your mind focus on them instead. If you are free the rest of the day then do something you enjoy to help you relax and unwind. Perhaps for you this means exercising at the gym, going shopping, having lunch with friends or playing sport and so on.

Although awaiting the results can also be difficult, try to allow yourself to focus on the next exam and put the ones you have completed to the back of your mind. If anything, you have learned a great deal from going through the experience, and acquired transferable skills that you can apply for the next exam that you will face.

Exam FoodCredit: jmiltenburg

5. Nutritional Advice

As well as getting lots of sleep around exam time, eating the right foods can really help boost your concentration and brain power too. Try to avoid having too many caffeinated, rich drinks such as coffee or espresso. These drinks could dehydrate you and make you shakier and nervous which is the last thing you need at exam time!

Some people drink coffee to stay awake revising late into the night, but eventually a headache will probably follow. Instead, water is going to be great for increasing your hydration and concentration span.

There are lots of great and delicious foods which will have many benefits for boosting your exam performance levels and brain power, but the following examples are just a few you may wish to consider.

Eggs contain serotonin which is a ‘feel good’ hormone as well as lots of great vitamins. They also contain something called choline which helps the brain to produce signalling molecules[4]. This could be great for exam time!

Eating oily fish such as tuna or salmon is also a great idea because they contain Omega-3 fish oils. These oils can actually help to reduce high blood pressure and therefore the risk of heart disease, so lowering your stress levels with some fish oils could only help. You could even try taking fish oil capsules as a supplement during tests.

Try to avoid the cookies, cakes, muffins and rich desserts as these are going to spike your blood-sugar levels up and down, as well as the fact that they contain high levels of fats which are not necessary. Consider snacking on frozen grapes (which can taste like sweets) or dried fruits without the added sugar such as mango or banana flakes. Herbal teas and hot water will aid your digestion and promote nutritional balance at this stressful time.

Lastly, try to relax, take deep breaths and I wish you the best of luck with your exams.

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Below is a You Tube video from the channel ‘Official GMAT’ where some great exam day advice is offered from multiple people.