Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Coping with Exam Stress

stressed studentThis is pre-examination season, a time of heightened tension for the parents and of anxious moments for the children. It seems as though lives for parents and children are inside a gigantic pressure cooker with no respite in the near sight. Guardian Health Chronicle has a few tips on how to let off the steam………..

Exams can be stressful. For that matter anything that has a result attached to it, which can impact your life is stressful, say for instance–your performance appraisal, job interviews and even exams. Exams and more specifically the results associated with it are stressful because in Indian scenario exams decide a whole lot of things, which means the course of your career and the source of your livelihood. Preparing for exams is a year-long process. And the schools’ study pattern is designed in such a way that through constant evaluation and tests it prepares the children for the impending exams. Yet, as the exam approaches stress begins to build up.

Signs of stress

Stress can express itself in different ways, for different people before an exam. You might feel knots in your stomach or have the urge to visit the washroom all the time. This kind of anxiety is called anticipatory anxiety and results in adverse affects on the body and mind. Stress not only causes palpitations and tense muscles but also reduces the ability to make decisions, act or express oneself including organization of thoughts,” says Dr K.K Agarwal, senior consultant and dean Medical Education. Stress during exams can make it difficult to read and understand questions and even to recall terms and concepts.

A lot of stress that the student faces prior to exams stems from the fact that he feels he is overwhelmed by the amount of study-material he has to complete in the stipulated time.

  1. Evaluate your preparedness: a good way to do this is to run through the syllabus and jotting down the level of preparedness against each. There will be lessons that you’ve prepared for the test and you need to just do a quick revision, and there will be lessons that have to be studied from the scratch.
  2. Revise the lessons. Revisions sound boring, but you got to do it to learn the lesson. While revising it is difficult to plough through the mountain of notes all the time. Dr. Dawn Hamilton, the author of Passing Exams recommends that you chunk down your work by reducing pages of reading to a few sentences. Hamilton also suggests that you link key ideas in our head with a rhyme or acronym.
  3. Use mind maps. These are easy and quick to do, and a very effective way of revising any topics. Be as creative as possible when developing the map. Use colours, symbols, pictures, shapes etc. which will help you visualise and remember.
  4. Get involved in group discussions. There will be lessons on which you’ll have ambiguities. It’s a good idea to brain storm the particular chapter with your friends to clarify your concepts. You could also seek help of your teacher in this.
  5. Take tests. Do model test papers, once you’ve studied the lesson. This will tell you where you stand.

Smart eating tips

Many students refrain from eating or begin living on junk food before exams. Both these approaches are not right. Before exams, you’re learning and assimilating a whole lot of information in a short span of time. Naturally, your brain is functioning on overdrive. Doesn’t it make sense that you should support your brain with healthy foods? What your brain needs is constant supply of energy so that it can function properly. How to ensure it?

  • Eat breakfast within half an hour of waking up. Your breakfast should include complex carbohydrates and a generous dose of protein. Speaking simply you should eat wholegrain bread sandwich rustled up with peanut butter or boiled egg. Eat daliya with milk, poha with vegetables followed by a bowl of yoghurt.
  • Eat every two hours. You could snack on shelled peanuts, fruits like banana, apple, orange or guava, a scrambled egg, carrot slices sprinkled with lemon juice or a glass of milk.
  • Cut down on caffeine. While caffeine can give you an immediate energy boost, its effects are short-lived. Overdo it and you’ll feel—jittery, restless, irritable, and unable to relax. Limit your caffeine intake to 2 small cups of coffee per day and try lower-caffeine beverages like green or herbal tea or decaf coffee.
  • Hydrate yourself. Not drinking enough fluids can leave you with a headache. Keep a bottle of water close by your desk.
  • Take supplements. When you’re coping with stress, your body can use some help from supplements. Stress tends to deplete our vitamin C levels. Take vitamin C supplement along with a good quality multivitamin to stay on the top of your health.

Still, stress can overwhelm you before exams. Talk to your parents, because stress is too much of a burden to carry it all alone. A recent study has shown that 45 minutes of afternoon nap improves the declarative memory. Declarative memory is the memory of events learnt and understood earlier during the year. Bust stress by doing free writing. Jotting down your innermost thoughts and feelings can significantly boost mental and physical health. In expressive writing therapy, students are encouraged to express whatever is on their mind, letting their hopes and fears flow out in a natural, unrestrained way. It’s akin to keeping a journal, but more focused on the things that might be bothering you or triggering stress.

With these tips in place you’ll be able to deflate stress, learn well and will get good grades in the exams. ALL THE BEST…..

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Category: Exam Stress
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