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Exam advice

Posted by Be Well

Exam season is upon us and we know what that means - sweaty palms, sleepless nights and sky high stress levels.

Getting through exams is never easy, and if you're about to take your exams, you're probably feeling the pressure.

Exams can be stressful, but there are ways to beat the pressure

But don't panic. There are ways to beat exam stress and ensure that you get the best possible results. Good planning and a slick revision schedule can turn a heavy workload into something manageable. And, it can conquer your nerves at the same time.

Follow our advice for stress-free studying and get ready to head to the top of the class.

It's wise to study

It's an age-old adage but studying really is the key to exam success . Being fully prepared for your exams is the most effective way to overcome feelings of stress and anxiety, and gives you the best chance of getting those all important grades.

Before you start revising, the amount of work you have might seem overwhelming. Many exam timetables require you to study for lots of different subjects at once, and it's easy to feel bogged down.

Combat this by drawing up a study schedule you can stick to . Work out how much you have to do and the time you have to do it in, and break it down into workable chunks. Try allocating yourself a few hours of revision a day, and mix up your subjects to avoid getting bored.

Plan your revision to make it more manageable

It's also important to find a study style that suits you . Studying alone in a quiet room suits many people, but not everyone likes working in silence. Try playing music quietly in the background, or revising with a friend - just don't let them distract you!

You can even customise your notes to make them more personal. Experiment with color coding, note cards, diagrams, or whatever you feel helps you absorb your chosen topic.

If you come across something you don't understand, try and find a new source of information rather than just memorising it, as this won't help you in your exam. Don't be afraid to ask your teacher or a friend for help if you need it.

Taking a look at past exam papers can also be useful as you can familiarize yourself with the layout and type of questions you'll be asked. Practice completing the exam paper in the set time limit so you'll know how to improve your exam technique.

A little R & R

While revision is an essential part of exam success, it's also important that you don't overdo it . Studying for hours on end without a break will only tire you out and ruin your concentration, making you even more anxious.

Stress is a natural feeling, designed to help us cope in difficult situations. In small amounts, it's actually good for you because it pushes you to work hard and do your best.

However, too much stress can cause problems such as headaches and loss of appetite, and can make you feel bad tempered. Avoid symptoms by taking frequent short breaks while you're working. One every 45-60 minutes is about right.

Take a break from revising every 45-60 minutes

During your breaks, try to do something relaxing , like reading a book or watching some television. Taking your mind off your work will help you come back to it feeling refreshed. It can also help to reward yourself after each revision session, for example, with a long soak in the bath or a good DVD.

When you're not revising, try using your spare time to get away from your books and do something physical. Exercise is good for taking your mind off things and keeping you positive, and will even help you sleep.

If you're still feeling stressed, it's important to talk to someone you trust such as a family member, teacher or a friend. Many people find exams difficult to deal with so don't be embarrassed to ask for support.

On the day

It's natural to be nervous on the day of your exam, but don't let your nerves get the better of you . Try to start the day with a good breakfast, and give yourself plenty of time to get to your exam hall.

Remember to take everything you need with you, including pencils, a calculator, and pens (preferably ones that work!). A bottle of water and some tissues can also come in handy.

Once the exam has started, take a few minutes to read through the instructions and questions , so you know exactly what's expected of you. Ask an exam supervisor if there's anything that's unclear - they are there to help you.

Plan how much time you'll need for each question, and keep in mind that longer questions, such as those in the form of essays, take more time and carry more marks.

Don't panic if you find yourself stuck on a question, but try to leave yourself enough time at the end to come back to it. Even if you're really stumped, an educated guess is better than leaving it blank.

When the exam is over, don't dwell on it too much, and resist the temptation to compare your answers with those of your friends. If you have more exams to come, try to focus on the next one instead.

Lastly, do your best and remember that exams aren't the be all and end all!

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