Beat Exam Anxiety And Do Better In Your SPM Exam
by StudyMalaysia.com on September 17, 2015 | Top Stories
Do you have exam anxiety?
It is natural to feel some anxiety before an exam. It happens to most people and anxiety can actually be a good thing! The extra adrenaline in your system helps you to perform better during your exams.
Sometimes, however, too much adrenaline caused by over-anxiety can have the opposite effect. So, the key is to keep your exam anxiety at an optimal level.
If you have experienced the following during an exam, you could have exam anxiety. Do you:
- feel like your mind goes “blank” during an exam?
- find yourself thinking “I can’t do this” or “I’m stupid”?
- feel like the room is closing in on you when you think about your exam?
- feel your heart racing or find it difficult to breathe?
- suddenly “know” the answers after handing up your exam paper?
- score much lower in exams compared to work done at home or in class?
- feel overwhelmed just before and exam?
Read on to find out what you can do to beat exam anxiety.
What to do to beat exam anxiety
Tests can be stressful even for the most prepared students. The good news is that there are some simple things you can do that can help you to reduce this anxiety.
1. From now till your exam...
Get enough sleep
When you continually deprive yourself of sleep, you can become more stressed and anxious. Lack of sleep also makes you less sharp mentally. So if you want your performance to be at its peak, make sure you sleep at least 8 hours each day. Many students think it’s OK to skip sleep to study but in the long run, you still need enough sleep for your mental faculties to do its job well.
Plan your days (and nights)
Being organised will help you make sure that you study smart. From now till your exam day, make a study plan that guides you on what you need to study. Make sure you list the most important things you need to learn and start with those first. Having a plan also helps you to make sure you cover all your exam topics. When you know that you’ve got all your topics covered in your study plan, you will be less likely to feel anxious. Don’t forget to minimise distractions when you study – put away that phone (now is not the time to socialise) and don’t try to study in front of the TV!
Practise Staying Calm
Because anxiety can do strange things to your memory, it is important that you stay calm before and during your exam. But staying calm needs practice. Try to establish a pattern of revision that gives you time to relax, especially before you go to bed. A relaxing break could be a long bath, exercise, listening to music or meditation – here are some stress relieving techniques you can practise from now till your exams.
Be exam savvy
It helps to feel as well-prepared as possible. When you are more familiar with the exam format and what to expect during the exam, you will be less likely to feel anxious. Here are some things you should do:
- Check the format and duration of each exam paper – make sure you know how many questions there will be so you can plan how much time to allot each section.
- Find out where your exam will take place and how long it will take you to get there. Make sure you know the rules and regulations – know what you can take into the exam hall.
- Take several practice exams. Time yourself to see if you can finish in the allotted time.
- Do an analysis of your practice papers – note what you usually get wrong or areas where you make careless mistakes; make sure you don’t repeat these mistakes in your next practice test and of course, in the real exam!
2. Just before your exam...
Here are some tips on what you should do in the days leading to your exam:
- Don’t experiment with new things in your diet. Stick to healthy foods you have are used to. Try not to take large amounts of caffeine and sugar.
- If there were a best time to be anti-social, this would be it. Arrive just on time and do not discuss the exam with anyone. Same goes for after the exam – leave without comparing answers. These are anxiety triggers. Just focus on your schedule – relax and revise.
- Visualise the outcome you want. Put yourself into a positive frame of mind by imagining how you would like things to go. Imagine yourself turning up for the exam feeling confident and relaxed – try to picture it in as much detail as possible.
- Don’t overwork yourself just before the exam. Make sure you have enough sleep the two days leading to the exam. Read through your revision notes. Don’t stay up late trying to cram as this could leave you feeling muddled and anxious.
3. While taking your exam...
So the day is here! You are walking into the exam hall. Here are some ways to keep your cool and ace that paper.
- Before your paper starts, close your eyes and do some breathing exercises, even if it’s just for 30 seconds. Make yourself relax – loosen your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Talk yourself through the exam. Say things like: I am relaxed; My mind is clear; I am calm and confident; Good job on finishing this section, now let’s move to the next section; OK, I’m doing a great job, just a few more questions to go.
- Before answering the questions, circle or underline key words in the question. Read carefully – make sure you know what is being asked.
- You’ve all heard this before – don’t spend too much time on one question. Start with the easiest questions first and then go back to the more difficult ones.
- Check your answers and proofread when you’re done. Remember the careless mistakes you used to make? Now is the time to make sure they weren’t repeated.
- Don’t get flustered if other candidates leave early. Allow yourself the entire duration of the exam.
- If do experience your mind going blank during the exam, try taking deep and controlled breaths and you will feel better. If your mind goes blank while attempting a question, skip it and try the next one. Continue to take deep breaths. If you feel you need to get up and walk for a bit to clear your head, put up your hand and speak to the invigilator.
To all who will be sitting for the SPM exam this year, good luck!