As we cross the halfway point of the exam season, many students will be feeling the strain. Awaiting results can be just as stressful as preparing and taking the exams themselves. Nikki Moys manages the Kent Business School Student Support Team and offers her top tips for coping with exam-induced anxiety.
Recognise when you are stressed
The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. If you’ve experienced any of the following symptoms for an extended period of time, then it’s time to take action:
- Difficulty getting to sleep or difficulty waking up in the morning
- Constant tiredness
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Poor appetite
- Loss of interest in activities
- Increased anxiety and irritability
- Increased heart rate
- Blurred vision
Write a revision timetable
It’s never too late to draw up a timetable, even if your exam is on the same day! A timetable helps you track your progress and manage your time – but be realistic and plan for fun and relaxation. Experiment with several different revision techniques to make revision more interesting.
Take regular breaks
When you feel yourself losing concentration – around every 45 minutes – take a short break and you’ll feel refreshed. If you’re working on-screen, try to avoid screens in your break, head outside for fresh air or take a walk to clear your head.
It can be difficult to sleep when you have an exam looming the next day, however, you should ensure that you get at least eight hours’ sleep. Make sure you wind-down before bed and avoid revision under the duvet – your bed should be your sanctuary.
Break bad habits
Junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, and caffeine never stopped anyone being stressed for very long. No one needs to revise on a hangover and whether it be tea, coffee or energy drinks, too much caffeine can cause tension and heighten anxiety. Drink water to stay hydrated, eat fresh fruit and vegetables and never skip breakfast. Fuel your brain as well as your body.
Regular moderate exercise will clear your mind and boost your energy levels – even a fast walk around the block every day will suffice. Nothing de-stresses the mind faster than physical activity, so build it into your timetable.
Avoid those who panic
Nervous energy can be contagious, so avoid those who panic where possible. Steer clear of any ‘exam debrief’ with classmates. There’s nothing you can do to change what you wrote on the exam paper, so why dwell on it?
Believe in yourself
You can only do your best. If you’ve attended all the lectures, put in the hours of revision and made use of all the resources available, you should go into the exam with confidence. Don’t lose sight of the fact that there is life after exams. Things might seem overwhelming right now but it won’t last forever.
Seek further help
If you’ve tried everything in your power, but still feel overwhelmed, it’s time to seek help. Don’t suffer in silence. As a Kent Business School student, there is a dedicated Student Support Team, details of which can be found on Moodle, who are your main point of contact for non-academic advice and personal difficulties, including health issues. This support is separate from teaching and academic guidance that students receive and ensures that students are able, as far as possible, to overcome or address problems that may otherwise impede their studies. In addition there is a section on Moodle dedicated to coping with exam stress which has useful links and advice for anyone who feels they need further support.
If you are experiencing personal or health problems affecting your studies, please contact the Student Support Officer in Canterbury or the Student Support Adviser in Medway who will listen confidentially and sympathetically to your concerns, provide advice, or if needed, refer you to central support services.