As exam season approaches, it’s important to remain calm and focused in order to obtain the results you need.
Sometimes, just taking a minute or two to breathe and regroup your thoughts can really help to settle your nerves and refocus your mind.
Try this simple 4 step breathing technique to help reduce exam stress:
- Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds
- Hold your breath for 2 seconds
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth for 5 seconds
- Repeat the process for 2 minutes
As well as breathing techniques, there are easy things that you can do from the comfort of your own room to help prepare for your exams.
We’ve rounded up our top five favourites from revision through to the big day itself:
1. Visually test yourself
Head down to the shops and buy yourself a pack of large sticky notes. On the front, write yourself questions that are key to your exams - it could be mathematical formulas, names of theorists or marketing terminology.
On the back, write the answer to each question then stick the notes to your wall.
Each morning, read the notes and test yourself on the answers before turning them over to see if you are correct.
Try to group questions or themes by coloured notes so when it comes to the exam, you can associate the answer with yellow/ pink/ blue etc and know which area you need to be thinking about.
2. Use past papers
As well as referring to books, notes and coloured answers on your wall, ask your tutor for past papers.
The first thing to do is to look through for multiple-choice questions. This is where you should then apply your coloured sticky note approach to analyse which question best suits the answers you know.
Once you’ve selected your question, break it down into sections to identify what it is actually asking you, then start to construct your answer.
Leave the mandatory questions in the paper to last as you will need to answer these ones either way.
The more past papers you can do and the more feedback you get back from your tutor on answers, the better. Studies have shown that past papers are one of the best ways for students to revise.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
This may sound like something that isn’t that important and you might consider yourself to be a night owl that stays up late revising until the early hours. However, the NHS recommends that adults get between 6-9 hours of sleep each night.
This ensures that your brain functions properly and that your body is fully rested. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your concentration levels may drop, your vision can be blurry and you won’t be on top of your game to sit your exam.
So, in the weeks running up to your examination, establish a sleep routine. Make sure you have no screen time for at least one hour before you go to bed - that’s no laptops, phones, TV or tablets. Instead, read your notes and let your body wind down.
Set your alarm to get up at the same time each day and try to eat breakfast within the first 30 minutes of waking up to kick start your energy for the day.
4. Drink plenty of water
Our bodies are made up of 60% water and our brains in particular are made up of 75% water. So, in order to ensure it’s functioning at its full capability, it’s vital that you drink plenty of water - especially when going into your exam.
It is recommended that adults drink 2 litres of water each day or 3.5 pint glasses to prevent dehydration. When our bodies receive the nutrients and hydration it needs, our mood improves alongside our concentration levels, awareness, cognitive abilities and motor skills.
Avoid drinking alcohol and energy drinks in the run up-to your exam and on the day itself. Alcohol can dehydrate you and affect your sleep pattern and energy drinks can cause a sugar crash.
5. Eat a varied diet
Eat your way to a good grade by looking at what you eat. Cut out high sugar foods like sweets and chocolate when you revise as they cause a short energy burst followed by a big crash. Instead, snack on protein-rich foods like nuts, eggs, dried fruit and oatmeal as they help with alertness and increase energy.
Like mum always says - eat your greens. Vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli are packed full of vitamin K which helps build pathways in the brain and improves memory and alertness.
Make sure you have a good breakfast on the day of your exam to ensure you have energy and your body is content, giving your mind the time it needs to focus.
Good luck to everyone sitting examinations this month!
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